It finally happened! They made my favorite comic series into a movie! And then, the movie came to theaters and I got to go to one and watch it before they all close again!
My hopes for it were never really that high and they sank quite a lot when I saw a poster showing Rahne holding a rosary, but of course I had to see it and of course I enjoyed it for what it was. Now I'll begin my complaining about it, thank you very much.
Thanks to my job I had been hearing a lot of director's comments that I wouldn't have read otherwise, and I couldn't help noticing that the actors he particularly raved about, playing Dani Moonstar and Roberto, were the ones that weren't that great for their roles. The writing is to blame here too, but since both were newcomers, it really felt like there should have been a sense that these were rising stars and I couldn't wait to see them in something else, and there definitely wasn't.
I also didn't know Ilyana's actor from anything else, but DAMN, she was PERFECT. She looked like Magik, she sounded like Magik, and she played the bitchy-bordering-on-outright-evil attitude beautifully. Her character in the comics was already high on my list of favorites, but she was absolutely the best part of the movie.
Don't have much to say about Sam, portrayed by one of the teenagers from Stranger Things. He was good but I mostly wanted to see him taking more of a big brother role toward the other mutants, and I think the change to his origin story - accidentally killing someone when his powers manifested rather than saving them - added too much angst for that.
So that brings us to Rahne, one of my favorite fictional characters of all time. I love Maisie Williams but she wasn't Rahne, and it wasn't just about the change to her religion. The inner struggle and vulnerability really weren't there; she was more like a kind but unhappy teenager with yet another dark past.
I had actually been looking forward to her romance with Dani, since I've been shipping them for a while but this is the first time it's written as canon. The problem I had with the way the movie handled it is that their personalities were essentially switched. In the comics, Dani, like Sam, is a team leader and feels protective of "the kids", while Rahne is painfully insecure and sheltered and is often pointed out as being the youngest. They join the team at the same time, but they're never exactly equals.
In most of the comic book movies (or shows) featuring a team instead of an individual hero, one character gets singled out as the audience entry point and also usually has a power or a trait that the plot hinges on. In The New Mutants, it's Dani. She gets introduced to the other four, who have already been at the facility for some time, and then she's described as one of the most powerful mutants ever like wow, and then she has to save the day by defeating the monster that she herself created.
For starters, that was a pretty lame use of the Demon Bear, but what bugged me is that it should have been Rahne. Her world gets turned around when she turns into a wolf, she moves to this scary place and gets comforted/rescued by Dani, she helps the others get closer to each other in turn, and they all work together to bring down the Big Bad.
And the worst thing is, they didn't even make use of the special telepathic bond that Rahne and Dani have! That's like the whole basis of the ship right there! Dani is supposed to have a form of animal communication that turns out to work with Rahne's wolf form! Such a waste.
Anyway, back to Ilyana. Aside from what I already mentioned, the really great thing about her was the use of Lockheed. Very different from his comics origin, but this time it was in a good way. I knew from trailers that there was more to him than the hand puppet, but the moment the puppet came to life was in no way diminished, and I even loved the way he was designed and animated. Granted, the explanation for Ilyana controlling an entire hell dimension was a little iffy, but the backstory it would take for anything else is admittedly too much for the context.
One other change from the source material that I actually approved of was Roberto's powers. In the Marvel Universe, super-strength without super durability or invulnerability is kind of a raw deal even if doesn't have to be charged up daily to work. The movie apparently combined his powers with Magma's, which even jives well with the name Sunspot, and the effects were pretty cool, too.
All of the effects were good enough for me, really, although you could see the budget constraints here and there, and I wish there had been more of Rahne's wolf form. Also, any look at her in-between form at all, rather than just a teeth/claws/eyes thing, or a complete transformation scene.
So that's my ramble. I don't know if anyone else has seen it but if you have I would love to hear your thoughts.