It's good to be back, even if the content isn't
Hey! What is this thing? Going to the movies? Who does that? More importantly, what does going to the movies look like in the current climate? Well, it includes masks, people not wearing said masks, and projectors that haven't been used in months. Oh, and obnoxiously loud kids - that part hasn't changed. But, you know what? I loved every second of it.
Let's talk about the experience first. It was so good to be back in my happy place. In the "before times," the movie theater was a place of refuge. An escape into another world, to elude the troubles of our time. To have that feeling return, to come back to my safe haven - every emotion was amplified. Every sense heightened. I was here for this (ultimately) messy superhero film. I sat with baited breath for every (predictable) twist and turn. This film, unorganized as it may have been, was chaotically beautiful. Because the moment was beautiful. I found myself holding back tears towards the end of the film, even though I was FULLY aware I was watching a painfully cliche, "main hero discovers their power from within" ending. When you've been away from your happy place for so long, it's hard not to be taken along for a ride, even if you know exactly where that train is headed. Going to the movies is back, and I can't help but be here for it.
Which brings us to The New Mutants. First things first, what I mentioned earlier. The projector this was screened on was awful. I get it - it was barely used for 7 months. A projector like what's at an AMC is probably not designed for that. But, my God. The viewing experience was absolutely awful. Everything was SOOOOO dark, the screen was almost indecipherable at times. The film didn't do the projector any favors - nearly the entire film was shot with cold lighting, and at night - but it didn't feel like much of an attempt was made to adjust the situation the movie presented the AMC staff and equipment. As if the staff wasn't fully aware that they were back, and didn't know what they wanted from the return. An accidental metaphor for the film, because it was confused about what it wanted to be, a tale of two disjointed ideas come to life. Half of this was a "haunted house" superhero film, half of it was an action-y "escape from Krypton" superhero film. It made the film tonally inconsistent, and really muddied the ideological waters of what this film wanted to be. Was it about overcoming your deepest fears? Was it about overcoming the oppressor? Was it about discovering the forces of evil pulling the strings behind a seemingly innocent operation? WHY NOT ALL OF THE ABOVE? Because throwing everything and the kitchen sink against the wall always works, right?
That said!! There are some major pluses of this film I have to share. First and foremost: the main character. The original trailer would make you believe this title belongs to Anya Taylor-Joy, Maisie Williams, or Charlie Heaton, but no! The title goes to little known Blu Hunt, who is also Native American. This marks the first superhero movie led by a Native American actor, and I am so here for it. It's kind of a shame this isn't being talked about more, because it is a monumental moment for diversity. As if that boundary pushing equality wasn't enough, this film also features an unapologetically gay love story. Honestly, it's one of the best LGBTQ+ love stories I've seen, because of how inconspicuous it is. After a big, "We're discovering ourselves and our sexuality," moment, this love story is intertwined with the overarching narrative in a totally innocuous way. It was easily the strongest narrative of this film, to the point I'm actually kinda disappointed it's sucked up in this ultimately mediocre, disorienting superhero film.
In conclusion, is The New Mutants actually worth seeing in a theater? ……….no. I don't think so. Every decision we make has a risk calculus, and unless you live and breath film like me, it's not worth returning to a theater (and see the irresponsibility contained within by its "invincible" patrons - my fellow theater goes took their masks off almost as soon as the lights went down) to see a disorganized superhero film. But, if you live and breath film, such as yours truly, (hello!) any film is worth it. When you've been aimlessly searching the void for purpose over the past 7 months, (a personal exaggeration, but a nice allegory for this writing) any film that is at least competently told is worth it. The escapism of a dark theater and a visual story is indescribably refreshing. Just…. Maybe wait a few weeks and for a better movie (looks at Tenet) before you do it yourself.
My Number: 5/10
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