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The New Mutants

Twenty years after the first ‘X-Men’ movie burst onto screens, comes the last instalment in the franchise ‘The New Mutants’. Based on a popular Marvel comic beginning in the early 1980’s, ‘The New Mutants’ gained its own followers as it successfully charted its unique course in the series. The long delayed film version, while not great, gives it a good go in offering a coda in a film series reaching its temporary conclusion.

Five young mutants, including Wolfsbane (Maisie Williams), Magik (Anya Taylor-Joy) and Cannonball (Charlie Heaton), are held captive in a secret facility. Although mentored by the facility’s Doctor Reyes (Alice Braga), the group are desperate to flee. Fighting to escape past mistakes and forge new futures, the team learn to use their special abilities to become the heroes they were born to be.

Directed by Josh Boone, ‘The New Mutants’ is a darker and more personal entry in the ‘X-Men’ franchise. There’s less saving the world and more saving themselves as the group try to overcome their fears. It’s like a teenage-angst story with the young mutant’s developing powers reflecting their growing maturity. This makes for an interesting instalment, free of the overblown excess of other films.

The cast do a fair job with their sketchily written characters. Williams succeeds the best with Wolfsbane exactly as seen from the comics. The mix of horror, drama and action is competently handled without being amazing. The excitement levels come in occasional spurts with the low key atmosphere and small ensemble working despite this lack of consistent incident.

‘The New Mutants’ is decent which is about the highest compliment one could give. It’s engaging without being too boring. As the grand finale to the 20th Century Fox ‘X-Men’ series, it may surprise fans expecting a huge blow-out. It provides a way forward for the new film owners, Disney, to create their own mutant-led tales with what comes next full of intriguing possibilities.

Rating out of 10: 6

CURRENTLY SHOWING IN CINEMAS.

Bright

‘Bright’ offers a new twist to the tired movie cop formula. There have been an incalculable number of police-based movies that it’s hard distinguishing one from the other. ‘Bright’ stands out with a potentially intriguing blend of fantasy and reality. Under David Ayer’s direction, ‘Bright’ shines a new light on the shadowy crime/cop genre.

In the future, humans co-exist with orcs and elves in a world where fantasy creatures exist. Dayl Ward (Will Smith) is an LAPD police officer paired with orc officer Nick Jakoby (Joel Edgerton). Patrolling the crime ridden streets, the duo become involved in various situations testing their new partnership. Along the way they meet elf Tikka (Lucy Fry) who is hunted down by evil elves including Leilah (Noomi Rapace) who is determined to destroy the world order.

‘Bright’ has a few engrossing elements amongst the predictable screenplay. Among them are the moral codes of orcs and elves which help to establish this unique world. Issues of friendship, loyalty and accepting differences are also aired and delivered in heavy handed fashion. Whenever ‘Bright’ explores the lives of the creatures it fires and further exploration in this area would have made for a more interesting movie.

There’s a somewhat tired feel overall with ‘Bright’ not as impactful as hoped. This is no fault of the performers with Smith and Egerton making for a strong odd couple. Edgerton especially conveys Nick’s stoic strength with Smith providing his usual charismatic patter. The action sequences are top notch, enlivening the often slow and uneven story.

Whilst it gamely attempts to spin a tired genre, ‘Bright’ isn’t as great as hoped. The surface elements are in place but the main body of an arresting plot is largely missing. The cop formula will always be around with the long arm of the law targeting any creature or human in its sights.

Rating out of 10: 6

CURRENTLY STREAMING ON NETFLIX.