Even before COVID-19 came along and laid waste to the 2020 cinema release slate, Josh Boone's The New Mutants had already suffered multiple delays. The last hurrah of Fox's X-Men franchise has been long coming and, after a muted cinema release in August, finally receives it home video debut. The main question is, was the wait worth it?
The New Mutants begins with Dani Moonstar (Blu Hunt) running from her village as it is ripped apart by an unseen enemy. When she wakes up, she is in some kind of hospital setting, with Dr Reyes (Alice Braga) there to greet her. She meets her fellow patients and starts to ask questions about what is going on and where they actually are.
It turns out that the establishment is more of a home for mutants, albeit without the niceties that you'd expect from Xavier's school for the gifted. Reyes runs a tight ship, surrounding the hospital with a force field and is prepared to put the teens into isolation if necessary, but is happy for any of the mutants to move on up accommodation run by her benefactor.
Dani finds out more about the other teens - Rahne (Maisie Williams), Illyana (Anya Taylor-Joy) and her dragon puppet, Sam (Charlie Heaton) and Roberto (Henry Zaga) - and together they start to piece together exactly what Reyes has planned for them and decide to fight back. It doesn't help that Dani doesn't know what her power is, but when the group do find out what it is, it puts them all in danger. Can they come together and put their disparity aside, or will they look after themselves first?
Although this is still basically a superhero film - and so you can probably guess the answer to that previous question - it is very unlike the others that have come before, even in the X-Men universe. The continual delays have sucker-punched any momentum the film may have had, so it's a real shame that something so different in the subgenre comes across as so underwhelming.
Introducing horror into the equation should have been exciting, instead it looks almost like an afterthought, like they agreed to it and then backed off (hopefully, Raimi's Doctor Strange sequel will not suffer the same fate). Even simple scares are subdued, so it comes across more One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest than The Exorcist III.
A missed opportunity, perhaps, but then Fox's approach to the whole franchise has been inconsistent at best, so we probably shouldn't be surprised. Points for trying something new, but it's now nice to know that the future of the franchise is now safely back in the hands of Marvel.
THE NEW MUTANTS is available on digital from December 28th and on DVD, Blu-ray™ and 4K Ultra HD™ on January 4th 2021