In case you haven’t seen it, The Breakfast Club was an ’80s pop culture milestone. Directed by John Hughes, the teen coming-of-age comedy-drama told the story of five high school students from different cliques, who came together on one Saturday afternoon during high school detention and formed an unlikely friendship. Kids born in the ’80s and ’90s watched the heartwarming film on repeat, and its formula influenced countless films for decades after.

Now, the reason I bring up The Breakfast Club is that horror/superhero film The New Mutants, which happens to be the 13th and final installment in the X-Men film series, reminds me of The Breakfast Club, amusingly enough. It’s like a very dark superhero version of the ’80s film, with five superhero characters who find themselves in a facility under strict supervision, having done some bad things. Granted, these are far worse things than what any of the kids did in The Breakfast Club — but the characters are similarly colourful. There’s the seemingly bad character with a good heart, the shy one, the smart one, the mysterious one, and the good one. They all go through trials throughout the course of the film, and bond together as they conquer their fears.

If anyone can direct a film about young people, it’s Josh Boone. His 2014 romantic tragedy film, based on the popular young adult book, The Fault in Our Stars, was a success by any standards.

He certainly had a lot of talent to work with in The New Mutants. There’s the Game of Thrones actress Maisie Williams, who plays Scottish mutant Rahne Sinclair, with the ability to turn into a wolf. There’s The Originals actress Blu Hunt (Danielle “Dani” Moonstar), who plays a Native American mutant with the ability to create illusions. There’s a touching romance between Rahne and Dani here too.

The New Mutants, the 13th and final installment in the X-Men series of films, is fairly watchable

Then, there’s Anya Taylor-Joy, who impressed viewers in several films, including Emma, and plays the Russian mutant Illyana Rasputin. Her character is the sister of the fan favourite X-Man Colossus, who fans will remember from Deadpool. She has some impressive sorcery powers.

There is Charlie Heaton, from Netflix’s Stranger Things. He plays the American mutant Samuel “Sam” Guthrie, who comic book fans will recognise as the flying superhero Cannonball. Finally, there’s Henry Zaga, who plays the Brazilian mutant Roberto “Bobby” da Costa with the ability to channel solar power. Zaga has also appeared in some Netflix shows.

The New Mutants had been in development hell for some time. There were rumours of production issues and reshoots, which is usually a terrible sign. Rarely do such films come out well after extensive reshoots, such as Superman II did in 1980, or Rogue One: A Star Wars Story did in 2016. Usually they are stinkers, such as Josh Trank’s Fantastic Four (2015).

Surprisingly, The New Mutants is fairly watchable if you’re a fan of X-Men films. It’s certainly better than Dark Phoenix (2019). Sure, the characterisation could have been deeper. Yes, the film is very predictable and the narrative misses several opportunities for more interesting plot turns, but the film is fine overall. The visuals aren’t bad either.

Interestingly, the film may have been saved by Covid-19. A planned first film in a new trilogy, the release was apparently cancelled after Disney purchased Fox. With the rights returning to Marvel, the plan has been to reboot the X-Men franchise. However, Covid-19 has brought production of new films to a near standstill and, apparently, the powers that be decided to finish the film in post-production and release it as a one-off. Ultimately, The New Mutants is an okay film, which is fitting for the final X-Men film, considering that Fox’s franchise was overall okay too.

Rated PG-13 for violent content, disturbing/bloody images, strong language, thematic elements and suggestive material

Published in Dawn, ICON, September 6th, 2020