ESP’s film reviewer Gavin Miller takes a look at the latest new movie to hit the big screen…
What a mess it has been getting this X-Men spin-off to the big screen.
Through script rewrites, production issues, in-fighting over the film’s tone, and in the middle Disney’s acquisition of Fox and the poorly-received final proper X-Men (current gen) movie Dark Phoenix not helping matters.
It initially entered pre-production six years ago – and had been given cinematic release dates as far back as April 2018 – when helmer Josh Boone was hired, riding a wave of goodwill on the back of his breakthrough direction with The Fault in Our Stars.
And now it has been pieced together? This is sadly one boring superhero film.
Boone seemingly has tried to make the best of it – but it’s very monotonous with only a handful of notable moments. Very ho-hum.
This is more like the first two episodes of a new teenage-orientated ‘mutant’ film being pieced together – then after watching it on Netflix or Amazon your prevalent thoughts being: ‘well that never really got going, don’t think I’ll be going back for more.’
That essentially sums up this more adult-orientated horror-tinted superhero flick, that still has the Marvel banner despite little reference to X-Men as it was pretty much edited out as Disney will no doubt relaunch the group sometime in the next few years.
But as it’s a bit of a mess it doesn’t really capitalise on its potentially interesting horror element as it’s basically a 12A movie, with a few minutes of 15-certification moments thrown in. Which end up being rather pointless.
When young Cheyenne Native American Dani Moonstar escapes the destruction of her reservation during a killer tornado, she ends up in a remote institution with four other mutants – mentored by Alice Braga’s (I Am Legend) medical doctor Reyes who is overseeing the facility.
Dani has been red-flagged with having mysterious psionic mutants powers that need to be unravelled, and she’s housed with Anya Taylor-Joy’s (Split) feisty sorceress-powered Illyana, Maisie Williams’ (The Game of Thrones) nurturing wolf-morphing Rahne, Charlie Heaton’s (Stranger Things) timid air-propelling Sam and Henry Zaga’s cocksure solar energy-manipulating Bobby.
But it seems that Dani has brought a power to the mutant home that is far beyond the realms of her new housemates, as it awakens all of their worst nightmares – and they soon come to life in the corridors of this installation.
And that’s not the only thing that isn’t ‘what it seems’ when the fivesome come to realise that they’re potentially not being groomed for the next generation of X-Men (the only fleeting reference in the film), but something altogether more sinister – which leads to them plotting an escape beyond the seemingly impenetrable shields that surround the complex. And in the process escape their sins too.
Sadly the premise never materialises into anything particularly enthralling, with its plodding A to B plot being extremely samey throughout – with the usual script devices thrown in such as stereotypical Moonstar/Illyana female egos ‘butting-heads’ confrontations.
And bizarrely the movie seems very small from the off, because there’s literally only one person and five students in the entire mansion-type house – giving it an empty ‘unfinished’ feel like they ran out of budget part way through. Which they probably did.
If you’re an X-Men fan then the characters aren’t wholly without merit – all of them show glimpses of charisma to just about make it watchable (particularly Taylor-Joy) – but it’s all just rather a bit drab.
Which means that these new mutants, will become old news very quickly – as there’s no a chance of a sequel being made anyway.
RIP Fox’s X-Men franchise. Thanks for the memories. The last being with 2014’s Days of Future Past. Which is sadly where this should have remained.
Cast: Blu Hunt, Anya Taylor-Joy, Maisie Williams, Charlie Heaton, Henry Zaga, Alice Braga & Adam Beach
Running Time: 1 Hr 34 Mins
Director: Josh Boone