But while I enjoyed the movie for what it is, I can see what people don’t like about it. In a lot of ways “The New Mutants” as a story borrows too heavily from typical teen dramas of today and yesterday and even as a superhero movie lacks much originality. It’s a solid, watchable, and frankly fun experience but it’s nothing special in terms of its execution. It does enough to be interesting, exploring some fun ideas and utilizing its genre blend fairly well even though the scares aren’t much more effective than a typical PG-13 horror film would be. The problem is there’s a lot of potential but not enough commitment to the individual parts to make the whole package work, which is a complaint many other critics have placed on the movie as well. I love that there’s an actually believable, and narratively significant same-sex relationship in a teen superhero movie. I love the idea of mutants facing their fears and regrets especially since these often tie into their powers and the idea of mutants dealing with the guilt of their destructive potential has never been dealt with as heavily in past movies as it is in this one. Prior to “The New Mutants” such struggles were reserved for specific characters, but all five mutants in this movie are forced to deal with their demons head on. The effects were pretty cool and the personalities were defined, and yet there still seemed to be something missing. The overall experience was fun but it felt like its ambition was watered down in favor of hitting all the required marks more than the right marks. I would have loved to see the movie go full R-rated which I think would have been a better fit for what Josh Boone had in mind, and I do think the story and it’s deeper elements had a lot more ground to cover than was actually explored. There’s a lot of potential here, but it’s sadly wasted potential.
Even though “The New Mutants” wasn’t exactly worth the wait, the conclusion by some that it’s the worst “X-Men” movie to date is completely off-base. I’d still put it well ahead of “X-Men Origins: Wolverine”, “X-Men: Apocalypse” and “Dark Phoenix” and would even consider it more rewatchable than “The Last Stand”. It’s flaws lie in its lack of conviction as its cross-genre approach has potential but in the end the final product feels too safe and self-limited to take full advantage of its broader goals and ideas. I still found it quite enjoyable and, considering that the planned trilogy is all but canceled at this point, it works well enough as a standalone film with its own identity to warrant some rewatchablity. Considering that I thought “Dark Phoenix” might be the last we saw of the Fox “X-Men” series and that movie has only gotten worse with subsequent rewatches, having a much more palatable offering like this to say farewell made the return to the theater and the “X-Men” franchise worth every second.