The New Mutants

BLU-RAY REVIEW:

20th Century;
Horror;
Box Office $23.8 million;
Rated ‘PG-13’ for violent content, some disturbing/bloody images, some strong language, thematic elements and suggestive material.
Stars Maisie Williams, Anya Taylor-Joy, Charlie Heaton, Alice Braga, Blu Hunt, Henry Zaga, Adam Beach.

Reflecting its comic book source material, The New Mutants offers a horror-infused take on the “X-Men” franchise and its penchant for finding people with bizarre superpowers.

As a spinoff of the “X-Men” comics, the “New Mutants” series focused more on younger mutants — the people born with genes that evolved to give them superpowers — who might one day be developed into full-fledged X-Men. The book’s style took on more surreal elements than the rest of the brand, though over the years it was the book that introduced characters such as Deadpool, Cable and Domino.

The New Mutants film moves away from “X-Men” style action and leans more into the realm of Stephen King thrillers and psychological horror. The story centers on a group of teenagers locked up in an asylum for evaluation of their powers, which manifest at the onset of puberty. But they seem to be under attack by an unseen force that takes that form of what terrified them as children. As discussed by director Josh Boone in the bonus materials, the film’s story draws particular inspiration from the “Demon Bear” storyline, in which one of the kids manifests her fears into a giant bear that attacks everyone.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

The film is taut in its execution and the cast is likable, but the film’s primary obstacle is its ‘PG-13’ rating, which doesn’t allow the filmmakers to take the story as extreme as it perhaps needs to go, resulting in the intended frightfest coming off as rather bland.

They also minimize any connection to the greater “X-Men” franchise, aside from a few generalized references. That it serves mostly as a standalone film is just as well, considering the film was delayed for so long its ownership in the interim transferred to Disney through its Fox studio purchase, making this the final “X-Men” film of the old regime, aside from more “Deadpool” movies that Disney-owned Marvel Studios might want to produce.

Follow us on Instagram

The Blu-ray includes 11 minutes of deleted scenes that are pretty much more of the same of what the film delivers.

There are also two featurettes running just over seven minutes: “Origins & Influences,” about how the original comic book influenced the filmmakers, and “Meet the New Mutants,” a profile of the characters and the cast behind them.

Finally, the disc includes a commentary track in which Boone interviews Bill Sienkiewicz, the comic book artist who worked on the “New Mutants” story arcs being adapted. It’s an interesting conversation about the artistic pathways taken by each man, but it’s not synched in any way to the movie itself.

HBO Max to Bow Dark Comedy Series ‘Two Weeks to Live’ Nov. 5

HBO Max will be the exclusive U.S. streaming home to the British dark comedy “Two Weeks to Live,” launching all episodes Nov. 5.

The Max Original stars Emmy Award nominee Maisie Williams in her first role after “Game of Thrones” and BAFTA winner and Emmy nominee Sian Clifford (“Fleabag”).

The series currently airs on Sky in the United Kingdom.

“Two Weeks to Live” tells a comic tale of love and revenge born from a seemingly harmless prank that goes terribly wrong. Kim Noakes is an early 20-something oddball who, since the murder of her father, has been sequestered away in the wilderness with her doomsday-prepping mother for most of her life. Feeling compelled to go on a belated coming-of-age adventure, Kim sets out to find her dad’s killer and along the way ropes mismatched brothers Jay and Nicky into her scheme.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

The series also stars Taheen Modak,  Mawaan Rizwan, Jason Flemyng, Sean Pertwee and Thalissa Teixeira.

Disney Sets Home Release Date for ‘The New Mutants’ After $21 Million Domestic Theatrical Run

Disney Media Distribution has set a Nov. 17 home release date for The New Mutants, the 13th and final installment in 20th Century’s “X-Men” franchise.

The film, released theatrically in August despite many theaters still being closed, earned a domestic box office gross of just over $21 million.

The film will be available on 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray Disc and DVD, as well as through digital retailers.

The New Mutants focuses on five young people with special powers who are forced to undergo treatment at a secret institution — allegedly to cure them of the dangers of their powers. But it’s soon clear that their containment is part of a much bigger battle between the forces of good and evil.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

The film was directed by Josh Boone from a screenplay he wrote with Knate Lee. The cast includes Maisie Williams, Anya Taylor-Joy, Charlie Heaton, Alice Braga, Blu Hunt and Henry Zaga.

Bonus features on the 4K Ultra HD and regular Blu-ray include:

  • “Origins & Influences” — Legendary comic artist Bill Sienkiewicz and the filmmakers explore the origins and influences behind The New Mutants;
  • “Meet the New Mutants” — Cast members share their experiences while filming and reveal how they bonded as a family, much like the characters in the film;
  • Deleted scenes.

Game of Thrones: Season 8

DIGITAL REVIEW:

HBO;
Fantasy;
$19.99 SD; $26.99 HD;
Not Rated.
Stars Peter Dinklage, Emilia Clarke, Kit Harington, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Lena Headey, Sophie Turner, Maisie Williams, Liam Cunningham, Nathalie Emmanuel, Alfie Allen, John Bradley, Isaac Hempstead Wright, Gwendoline Christie, Conleth Hill, Rory McCann, Jerome Flynn, Kristofer Hivju, Joe Dempsie, Jacob Anderson, Iain Glen.

The eighth and final season of “Game of Thrones” is certainly its most divisive, setting off a wave of Internet debates as to whether the final run of episodes was worthy of the extensive storytelling that had been laid out before.

Much of the ire seems to be focused on the creative decisions made by showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss in mapping out the final story arcs of the various characters once they no longer draw from the “Song of Ice and Fire” novels by George R.R. Martin, which formed the basis of the first five seasons.

A noticeable shift in the show’s pacing occurred in season six, once it was clear they had to create their own after reportedly receiving outlines from Martin about how he envisioned the saga more or less ending up. After season six, it was announced the show would wrap up in 13 episodes split into two seasons, with seven in season seven and six in season eight.

In hindsight, the argument goes, this timeline was insufficient in setting up the character development needed for the plot twists of the final episodes, leaving the final storylines feeling rushed while retroactively weakening the earlier seasons by both devaluing their story development and making it clear (particularly to readers of the novels) where the show missed opportunities to lay the foundation for the plot points the writers eventually decided to pursue.

The series has spent seven seasons seemingly maneuvering every character into two factions. One is the army gathering at Winterfell to fight the Night King and the White Walkers. This is the faction commanded by Daenerys Targaryen and Jon Snow, who joined forces last season. However, their truce may be complicated by the lingering truth of Jon’s true heritage, which could present an obstacle to Dany’s claim to the Iron Throne.

Meanwhile. Queen Cersei has fortified her hold on King’s Landing through an alliance with Euron Greyjoy’s fleet and a mercenary army.

The first two episodes deal largely with various characters reuniting, setting the stage for the battle against the Night King, which takes place in the third episode. The final episodes involve the battle for King’s Landing and its aftermath.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

So, is the final season as problematic as the darkest corners of the Internet would make it out to be? Well, mostly no, but a little bit yes.

The ire seems to fall into two categories. The first, as mentioned, is the show rushing to get to the end. The second is the specific outcomes for some of the characters, which may have differed a bit from what some of the more entitled fans envisioned in their heads.

As to the second point, such is often the refrain of toxic fandom, and seems misguided. The character arcs themselves are fine and completely understandable, particularly when it comes to the most divisive of the individual stories, that of Queen Daenerys and her quest to reclaim the Iron Throne on behalf of her family.

The show has always been an examination of the dangers of tyranny and absolutism, even when the results of such governance may seem beneficial. The cycle of inherited power is itself the problem, not the potential for harm a new ruler may bring.

That being said, it’s hard to disagree that the final march to the end was a bit rushed, and perhaps could have used a few episodes to show events for the characters to experience that might reinforce their motivations in the final battles.

The final season is fine as it is, as easy as it is for fans to pick it apart, and will likely come to be better regarded once absorbed into the bulk of the show as fodder for binge viewing. While the asinine suggestion of fan petitions to “remake the season with competent writers” is beyond the realm of credibility, it’s hard not to at least entertain the idea of filming a few more episodes of material to expand on the character development, then re-editing them into the final couple of seasons (though, realistically, that ain’t happening either).

The show’s critics are also quick to overlook the many strengths of the final season, which offers some of the most stunning visuals of the series. This includes the purposefully dark and moody third episode, which uses its nighttime setting to great effect give viewers the same sense of unseen dread the characters would experience in fighting off wave after wave of undead armies.

There was some concern about the cinematography being too dark upon its initial airing, but this isn’t much of a problem with the digital HD presentation.

The other aspect of concern in fan circles were all the memes pointing out Starbucks cups and plastic water bottles left on the set for key scenes. The prominent coffee cup was subsequently digitally erased from episode four, but a few water bottles spotted under the chairs in the “Council of Lords” scene in the finale were still visible in the digital copy of the episode, at least within the first few days of its digital release. It will certainly be something to keep an eye out for in the eventual Blu-ray release that should arrive in a few months.

The digital package of the final season also includes a four-minute production featurette, a 17-minute profile of a key season from the third-episode battle, and The Last Watch, the feature-length documentary chronicling the making of the show’s final season that provides an enlightening look at the filmmakers and craftsman who brought it all together.

Lionsgate Bringing ‘Early Man’ to Disc

Lionsgate will release the stop-motion animated film Early Man on digital May 15, followed by Blu-ray, DVD and on demand May 22.

From the Aardman animation studio, the prehistoric romp tells the story of Dug the caveman and his goofy friends who challenge invaders to a game of soccer in order to win back their home.

The film, which earned $8.3 million at the domestic box office, features the voice talents of Eddie Redmayne, Tom Hiddleston, Maisie Williams and Timothy Spall.

Blu-ray and DVD extras include the featurettes “Before the Beginning of Time: Creating Early Man,” “Nick Park: Massaging the Funny,” “The Valley Meets the Bronze” and “Hanging at Aardman Studios: A Workshop Exploration.”