Movies

The Plot Of ‘The New Mutants’ Recreated With Quotes From Baffled Critics

The New Mutants, an X-Men spinoff originally produced by Fox (which itself was acquired by Disney 2019) slunk into mostly empty theaters this past weekend. Which, to be fair, was probably more a function of the timing than of the movie itself.

Given that the film was originally shot in 2017 for a 2018 release, and the studio declined to screen it for critics or offer it on VOD in the midst of a pandemic (there were vague intimations that they were contractually obligated to give it a theatrical run), it seems fair to infer that Disney — who, again, didn’t even make it — were just trying to get rid of The New Mutants as quickly and as quietly as possible. Of course, why would we ever want to let them do that? The more a studio wants to hide a movie, the more I want to see it.

Considering The New Mutants‘ weird release and its studio’s seeming embarrassment about it, this seemed like the perfect time for Plot Recreated With Reviews. That’s when we try to recreate an entire movie using only expository quotes from the critics who saw it. Because sometimes it’s just more fun to hear a movie described than actually see it.

Directed by “The Fault in Our Stars” helmer Josh Boone, who co-wrote the screenplay with Knate Lee, “The New Mutants” takes place at an abandoned hospital where five teenage mutants reside semi-voluntarily while learning about themselves and their powerful abilities. –TheWrap

THE GANG’S NOT HERE

We don’t see Wolverine, Professor X, Magneto, Jean Grey, anybody. Instead, we meet a crew of mutant nobodies, who have zero control or understanding of their dangerous powers, and therefore are forced to live on a gross, crumbling campus in hopes of one day becoming proper X-Men. –NY Post [The NY Post guy REALLY seems to hate the building for some reason -Ed.]

Even Professor X, the patron saint of post-pubescent angst, is merely alluded to with a wheelchair and a look. –NY Times

OUR HERO

The film stars the spectacularly named Blu Hunt as Danielle Moonstar, a Northern Cheyenne teenager whose whole Reservation has been wiped out by . . . something. –Vanity Fair

…computer-generated carnage outside: an ominous cloud formation, too targeted to be a tornado, that flips cars and smashes mobile homes, emitting a deep, demon-like growl as it destroys all in its path. The phenomenon obliterates the reservation. –Variety

THE DEMON BEAR

Three times Dani repeats the proverb of the Demon Bear: “Inside every person there are two bears, forever locked in combat for your soul. One bear is all things good: compassion, love, trust. The other is all things evil: fear, shame, and self-destruction.” –Polygon

Which one emerges victorious? The one we feed. -TheWrap

[Oh God, not this “two animals inside you” shit again. At least it wasn’t wolves this time. -Ed]

THE ASYLUM

When Dani wakes up handcuffed to a hospital bed, it is revealed that she is the sole survivor from whatever happened at her reservation. –LA Times

Dani finds herself ominously kept prisoner/patient at an asylum of sorts run by Dr. Reyes (Alice Braga), whose soft tones and frowning concern for her charges belie obviously dire motivations. -VanityFair

There are many red flags at this facility. Mount Sinai, it ain’t. This dump looks like an abandoned insane asylum, and it’s run by just one stern woman, Dr. Reyes, who is a mutant with the power to create impenetrable force fields. -NY Post

“This isn’t a hospital,” Dani is told. “It’s a cage.” –South China Morning Post

THE GANG THAT IS HERE

The mutants in question are five deadly teenagers who, shortly after their powers kicked in at puberty, each killed someone (or some entire town, in the case of the distraught Dani). -NY Times

Handsome enough to begin with, jock-like Roberto da Costa (Henry Zaga) turns scorching hot when his libido kicks in. Rahne Sinclair (Maisie Williams, “Game of Thrones”) may seem mousy, but she’s actually a kind of werewolf who can transform on command. -Variety

I think she can turn into some kind of angry badger. Very scratchy when threatened. She can also morph into a standard dog if anything needs to be fetched. –National Post

Sam Guthrie (“Stranger Things” big brother Charlie Heaton) has a thick Southern accent and the ability to shoot, rocket-like, across the sky. –Variety

Anya Taylor-Joy makes for a compelling Illyana Rasputin. Presented as a victim of child slavery (and presumably rape) –Forbes [thanks for making that connection clear there, bud -Ed]

she’s a sword-conjuring sorceress who snarls that she’s killed 18 men. -South China Morning Post

Her character carries a pterodactyl hand puppet at all times -Variety

and is able to teleport and turn her eyes and arms into weapons. -Variety

Dr. Reyes, says they’ve been incarcerated to keep them from harming themselves and others with their nascent powers, but I think they’re undergoing AART, or Atrocious Accent Reversion Therapy. How else to explain the fact that Illyana Rasputin is rocking a ra-ra-Rasputin Russian voice? (Her other superpower seems to be perfect bangs.) Or that Charlie Heaton’s Kentucky drawl occasionally wanders as far south as Nashville, and up into Ohio? Meanwhile, Henry Zaga, actually born in Brazil and playing a Brazilian, somehow sounds Californian. –National Post

DR. REYES

Dr. Reyes tells Dani that baby rattlesnakes are more dangerous than their grownup counterparts because they don’t know how to control their venom. So Dani and her fellow captives are there for their own good, to protect themselves and others until these magic adolescents can more carefully realize their full potential. -Vanity Fair

Dr. Reyes, who works for the mysterious Essex Corporation. -South China Morning Post

swears she can soothe their guilt with a mix of talk therapy and constant camera surveillance. The sickly teal walls are the first hint that this dormitory isn’t what it seems. -NY Times

It looks an awful lot like the hospital in “Shutter Island.” That’s because both were shot at the Medfield State Hospital, an imposing late-19th-century red-brick asylum that makes for an ideal horror-movie location. -Variety

MUTANT BONDING

As Dani works to understand her talents’ true nature, her newfound friends find themselves plagued with nightmares about the lives they’ve taken. And before long, these nightmares begin to manifest themselves in the physical world, creating real-life monsters that the patients are powerless to resist. -ThePlaylist

Like “The Breakfast Club” on steroids, these five misfits slowly overcome their differences, bonding and becoming friends. -Variety

Naturally, the kids rebel with a dance montage. -NY Times

MISFITS MAKE GOOD, SORT OF

This is the first Marvel movie to depict an openly queer relationship, giving Dani a lesbian love interest. -Variety

“It’s going to get better,” Maisie Williams’s character says, in Panglossian fashion, at one point in The New Mutants. -Vanity Fair

Boone assigns teen mutants to teenage clichés, like the misunderstood jock (Da Costa) or mean girl with a dark back story (Rasputin) and expects the audience to feel something because there are violins playing in the background. –Polygon

Glimpses of a TV playing episodes of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” help drive the point home. –LA Times

STYMIED EXPECTATIONS

In the comics, these guys become known as Wolfsbane, Sunspot, Cannonball, Magik and Mirage. Those nicknames are never used here -NY Post

and we’re only given passing glances at their abilities. -TheWrap

None of the patients ever step foot outside the hospital grounds. -ThePlaylist

For the most part we’re meant to be invested in the twin mysteries of (A) what is Dani’s secret power and (B) is Dr. Reyes a good doctor or an evil one? -National Post

When the true mastermind behind the villainy is unearthed, it’s a deep cut throwback to a franchise that no longer exists. –CinemaBlend

POWER UNLEASHED! SORT OF

Fox’s 20-year, 13-film X-Men series goes out not with a bang or a whimper . . . but a bear attack. Yes, every camper’s worst fear is the asinine conclusion of a two-decade stretch of mutant movies -NY Post

Once unleashed on a series of computer-generated whatsits (including a phalanx of gangly, befanged disco dancers), the teens’ inability to control — or explain — their skills just makes them look goofy. -NY Times

Featuring a demon bear, -NY Post

wolves and sharp-toothed skeletons, -South China Morning Post

it’s a messy action orgy that explains Dani’s mysterious powers. -NY Post

While their elders boast the ability to control weather or metal or minds, the fledglings appear to have gotten the dregs of a white elephant exchange. Illyana has the gift of flickering into an alt-world where her hand puppet becomes a belching, parrot-size dragon. As for Sam, an explosive miner’s son from Kentucky, his biggest moment is when he chains himself to a post and bangs around like a tetherball. -NY Times

If it wanted to be the first Marvel horror movie – a very interesting choice for a story about mutants locked up in an institute – it’s never scary. -CinemaBlend

Without any palpable atmosphere, the jumpy moments and creepy suggestions arrive like only more exposition, -Vanity Fair

scares that you’ll forget about as you’re watching. -Empire

All of its awe is perfunctory, its reveals of superpowers and troubled backstories thunking around like particle board—dense with the pulp of other things -Vanity Fair

IN CONCLUSION

The New Mutants is like watching a lousy TV pilot for a show that you know didn’t get picked up. -Forbes

Part of me wishes its new owners had continued to punt its opening date ever farther into the future. It could have attained mythical status as the film always on the verge of opening, but never quite making it. Sometimes the best X-Men film is the one you don’t see. -National Post


Well, there you have it, folks. It doesn’t sound so bad, but then it doesn’t sound that good. Probably a solid B+. Honestly I wanted to know more about the pterodactyl hand puppet.

Also, one more thing, I couldn’t fit this quote into the format, but I felt like you should see it.

Most baffling sentence award: Dan Buffa of KSDK:

“Anya Taylor-Joy’s accent doesn’t just come and go; it overwhelms you the way a bad karaoke singer would right after a bad plate of nachos.”

Look out, everyone! The man has a simile and he’s not afraid to use it! Two points for anyone who can figure out what the hell that means.

Vince Mancini is on Twitter. You can read more ‘Plot Recreated With Reviews’ here.

×