Director Josh Boone (The Fault in Our Stars) teams up with Keith Lee to create this highly anticipated new release from Marvel, The New Mutants. Instead of making a simple superhero movie, they decided to risk the wrath of fans and bypass the modern horror film. While die-hard comic book fans may not get the film they've been looking for, the twist on horror and singular dedication to elements of the original characters delivers more than they might have expected. Five young men, each with extraordinary powers bestowed by genetic mutations, are individually rounded up and brought to specialist. institution to learn to control and use their abilities. But they quickly realize that their mentor and the program itself may not have their best interests in mind. Despite wide individual differences, the children must unite to find out exactly what they have been turned into, let alone survive their “cure.”
The story is solid, although there are some liberties taken with the original characters. While some of it seems necessary to advance the plot, other parts seem necessary for change. By the end of the film, every change has at least a minor reason. Unlike other superhero films, The New Mutants is more of a horror mystery than a battle between clearly defined good and evil. The script follows the origins, offering mostly clues instead of tales. Also, there aren't many random characters in this movie. The film won't suffer much from this, but it will be a disappointment for those expecting deeper portrayals of characters they've known for decades. All is not lost for these true believers, as the final twenty minutes of the film showcase the heroic actions of all five, true to the original personalities. The casting director is committed to not only casting actors who look like the parts, but also fit the roles, although this is somewhat different from a regular Marvel movie. Each of them delivers excellent performances, bringing the originals to life to the point where the audience will be left wanting more development for each.
The lack of focus on this leaves them all a little two-dimensional, despite the best efforts of the actors. Maisie Williams gives a great performance as the conflicted Rahne Sinclair, showing that her acting chops extend beyond Arya Stark. Both Charlie Heaton as Sam Guthrie and Henry Zaga as Roberto da Costa seamlessly transition into the mentality of the original characters. Although Ilyana Rasputin is the character who suffers the most, Anya Taylor-Joy does well. Blu Hunt's Danielle Moonstar, while at the center of the story, lacks substance. This emptiness has more to do with the script than the actress, and perhaps that was the writers' intention for how the story was going. The visuals are both breathtaking and sometimes terrifying. Great care was taken to portray everything realistically without giving away too much in advance of the plot. Various antagonists come in and out of the game in a way that would make any horror franchise villain proud. There are several teasers to keep an eye on. If the movies happen, it will be interesting to see how these characters continue to develop - especially if they manage to cross over into the traditional Marvel Universe of characters now that Disney owns all the properties. For now, the mutation from superhero to horror is definitely driving viewing.