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‘New Mutants’ an interesting take on Marvel mutant stories

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We see a lot of movies that don’t even try to do new or different. They tell the same stories we’ve seen over and over, only with different characters and some different visual cues. Superhero movies, which have dominated the cinematic landscape since 2008 or so, haven’t been immune to this. So when a superhero movie tries to do something a little different, it’s like a breath of fresh air.

“New Mutants” tries to do something a little different, by fusing elements of horror films and 80s John Hughes movies into a story about super-powered mutants. It doesn’t always work, but there’s enough good going on in “New Mutants” that it makes for fun and interesting viewing.

Based on the Marvel comics series, finds young Dani (Blu Hunt) escaping as a mysterious event wipes out the reservation she called home. She finds herself locked down in a strange facility overseen by Dr. Reyes (Alice Braga). Dani meets four other teens: Illyana (Anya Taylor-Joy), Sam (Charlie Heaton), Roberto (Henry Zaga), and Rahne (Maisie Williams), each of whom has a tragic backstory and powerful abilities.

The kids begin to form uneasy bonds as they defy Dr. Reyes. Unfortunately, they begin to experience terrifying visions of events from their pasts. At the same time, they begin to figure out that the “hospital” they’re stuck in may not be what it seems. Can the kids come together and use their powers to escape their visions and get away from Dr. Reyes?

“New Mutants” comes across like a superhero movie spliced together with a horror movie and “The Breakfast Club,” with a little “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” thrown in just for fun. The result is a flick that feels familiar but then takes you places you weren’t expecting to go.

The bedrock that makes “New Mutants” work is some really solid writing. The script conquers several challenges, including giving the characters good bits of emotional stuff to chew on and weaving in themes of facing your fears and learning to trust people you don’t necessarily like. The script also has to tell an intimate story that’s limited by a relatively small, claustrophobic setting. It does a good enough job with all this to give the movie a sturdy foundation.

Because the movie is such a small, one-location affair, the acting has to carry the weight of the story. Thankfully, the actors do just that. The young castmembers ably acquit themselves, with Hunt, Williams and Heaton being especially good. Braga is appropriately icy and emotionless. Her lack of compassion for the kids freezes the blood a bit.

The atmosphere also helps to sell this movie. It’s dark and murky in that hospital, which contrasts nicely with the vivid elements in the nightmare sequences. The atmosphere helps ratchet up the tension and as you get to know the characters and like them, it creates a real sense of dread over what could happen to these kids.

That all works, but not everything does. The biggest flaw is the ending, which is way too formulaic and Hollywood for its own good. While it ties in the theme of facing your fears, there had to be a more creative way to do it. Most of the scares are standard jump scare-type scares. That is to say, you can see them coming from a mile away and they aren’t very scary.

“New Mutants” doesn’t pack any surprises into the plot. You know basically where the characters will end up at the end of the movie before you get through the first act. But plot surprises aren’t what makes this movie worth seeing. For most of this flick, you get to experience something that’s not like every other superhero movie out there. That, plus the solid work from the actors, makes “New Mutants” worth watching.

3 Indy Fedoras out of 5

MPAA Rating: PG-13

Thanks to Fat Cats in Rexburg for providing screenings for movie reviews on EastIdahoNews.com.

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