EVEN prior to the present pandemic, The New Mutants had suffered delay after delay. Astonishingly, this Josh Boone directed superhero feature was first scheduled for release way back in April 2018. Subsequent setbacks, re-shoots and a transition from the hands of an independent 20th Century Fox to Disney led many to label the project cursed.

Indeed, so late to the party is The New Mutants that its title has now been rendered an irony. Rather than the launch of something fresh and exciting, the film marks the unwitting final chapter in the X-Men film saga launched by Bryan Singer exactly 20 years ago. With the X-Men now firmly settled in the ‘House of Mouse’, the likes of Wolverine, Magneto and Mystique are to be recast and consumed by the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

As a finale, then, The New Mutants is neither a celebratory triumph nor dud note. It’s a million miles from the successes of Days of Future Past but no Last Stand either. The words: average and forgettable come to mind. The New Mutants’ most remarkable achievement is the very fact that it has, in such troubled times, even made it to the big screen. Mulan didn’t even manage that.

To its credit, the film does realign the conventional gender arrangement of super team fare. Game of Thrones’ star Masie Williams and Emma’s Anya Taylor-Joy lead the film in a league of their own, with Stranger Things’ Charlie Heaton, Blu Hunt (Another Life) and relative newcomer Henry Zaga rounding off the gang. Each plays a character subject to ‘issues’ and each resides in an abandoned hospital under the care of Dr Cecilia Reyes (Alice Braga). As is explained to Hunt’s Dani Moonstar, on her waking in the hospital for the first time, all five are mutants and must learn to control their ‘gifts’.

Though Boone brings to the table pleasingly low-key stakes, where his film falls is in its failure to seize such an opportunity to plunder greater depths of character. The cast bring gusto but can only steer a sail-less ship so far. Likewise, Boone’s attempts to merge the superhero with the super scary never really hit the mark. The New Mutants has been rated a 15 by the BBFC but not for warning of lasting chills.

Ultimately, it’s a nice try but not so near miss for The New Mutants.