Arts & Entertainment

“The New Mutants” escapes Hollywood curse

By David Villafranca

Los Angeles, Aug 24 (efe-epa).- The first Marvel Comics big-screen foray into horror, “The New Mutants,” is finally set to debut this week after a thousand and one delays that made it seem as if what looks to be the final installment in the X-Men saga was cursed.

Directed by Josh Boone from a screenplay he wrote with Knate Lee, the X-Men film stars Maisie Williams, Anya Taylor-Joy, Charlie Heaton, Alice Braga, Blu Hunt and Henry Zaga.

“We released the movie we wanted to release. We finally get for people to go see it, but certainly that part of it, that middle period, was a hugely frustrating experience,” Boone told Efe.

The odyssey began in May 2017, when 20th Century Fox announced that it was making “The New Mutants” with Boone directing a cast headlined by Williams (“Game of Thrones”) and Taylor-Joy (“Split”).

Shooting took place over the summer with plans for a release in April 2018 and a trailer for “The New Mutants” appeared in the fall of October 2017.

Then came a series of postponements. Hollywood buzzed with rumors about a decision to shoot new scenes, but Boone denied that and he attributes the delays to complications arising from Disney’s acquisition of 20th Century Fox.

And by the time the film was complete, in March of this year, the coronavirus pandemic was in full swing and studio executives weighed bypassing movie theaters entirely in favor of sending “The New Mutants” directly to streaming platforms.

“I’d say that for the window that Disney was going through the merger with Fox, that was the most frustrating part of it. Because Fox didn’t know what they we going to do with the movie, Disney didn’t know what they were going to do with the movie, and I had no idea what was going to happen,” Boone said to Efe.

The studios, he said, “had bigger fish to fry.”

“Fox put all their energy into ‘Dark Phoenix’ (another X-Men film) that cost more than twice what ours cost. It had a major cast that needed to be taken care of and everything else. They really dealt with that and by the time that was all done and taken care of and the merger was done, and Disney invited us back to finish this one – by the time we got to that point and we got to where I am now sitting with you – it’s been a great experience,” the director said.

The film depicts a group of teenagers with extraordinary abilities who are confined to an oppressive psychiatric facility.

But besides the aspect of horror and special powers, the movie depicts the anxiety common to all adolescents.

“These kids happen to have powers, but it really is about that awkward stage where you’re not who you were and you’re not who you’re going to be yet,” Taylor-Joy said. “Let’s just make that even more intense by putting all of them together in a hospital where they can’t leave and then giving them powers on top of that.”

The rising star said that “The New Mutants” touches on some of the same themes as John Hughes teen films such as “The Breakfast Club” and “Pretty in Pink.”

“Of course it exists within the X-Men universe, but also it feels kind of John Hughes-y. It feels like they’re individual characters going through all of this and we just get to have fun because we get powers,” the actress told Efe.

In the same vein, Boone noted that Hollywood doesn’t seem very interested right now in the dilemmas of adolescence.

“I love all the Marvel movies, but they’re all adults to some degree or another, other than Spidey (Spider-Man),” the director said. “I love seeing actual young people – teenagers – in a teenage story that are more like movies that I loved back then and the comics that I loved back then.”

While acknowledging that the horror aspect of “The New Mutants” represents a new direction for both Marvel and the X-Men on the big screen, Boone said that the original X-Men stories had undertones associated with the horror genre.

“It was already kind of so dark and strange and different than typical comic book stories. In general, the kids didn’t wear costumes. There were metaphysical dimensions to it, there were occult dimensions to it,” he said.

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