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Brightburn (2019) Movie Review By Peter Pluymers

 

Brightburn Review

Director: David Yarovesky
Writers: Brian Gunn, Mark Gunn
Stars: Elizabeth Banks, David Denman, Jackson A. Dunn

“Take.. The.. World. Take the world.”

Superhero-movie-haters unite. Run to a nearby movie theatre to see this movie. Because “Brightburn” is the ultimate anti-superhero-film of all time. The moment I realised which direction it was going, I cursed myself because after seeing “Avengers: Endgame” I’d decided to have a little sabbatical. I was going to avoid movies with characters in tightly fitting latex suits and superhuman powers. But as it became clear that it wasn’t what I expected, my enthusiasm grew all the more. My enthusiasm for films such as “Deadpool” and “Ant-Man” (because of a touch of whimsy and the originality) was effortlessly overtaken by this highly original anti-superhero film. And if one also mixes the superhero genre (of which they are continuously producing sequels and prequels) with my all-time favourite genre horror, it simply can’t go wrong. I am indeed enthusiastic, yes. Extremely enthusiastic!

It all starts as a sort of Superman parody or reboot (another favorite Hollywood term these days). Here too, we meet a young couple who have been trying to have a child for years. Even spicy lingerie doesn’t do wonders because farmer Kyle Bryer (David Denman) (and yes, the location is again a big farm) is rather clumsy, which means that his watch always gets stuck in his wife’s hair. BANG! Before they realise it, some object out of space crashes nearby. Right in their back yard. And as if it’s the most normal thing, Tori (Elizabeth Banks) finds an innocent, sweet little guy in this comet or spacecraft. They adopt him instantly and call him Brandon (Jackson A. Dunn). All peace and light, you think. Until the boy realises that something is wrong. Especially when he tries to start the lawnmower and suddenly the thing ends up at the neighbours. A few meadows further.

With the well-known figure Superman, the parents didn’t waste any time and told young Superman to keep his growing powers under control and only use it to help humans. In the 70s this fact was acceptable. But after the trillionth superhero movie, that concept really starts to sound boring. And that’s where “Brightburn” starts to deviate substantially. As soon as it seems as if puberty hits Brandon, and no it’s not about hair growth and other side-effects, and he wanders around the farm at night looking for something that seems to call him, it becomes clear that a constructive parent-child conversation is not really useful. When Brandon feels disadvantaged, it’s best to stay away from him. The consequences of a tantrum can be disastrous. You could end up flying into a closet or have a crushed hand as a result. So they are stuck with a teenage son with issues who has superpowers. A “Dennis the Menace” with an attitude. You don’t have to be smart to know what’s going to happen next.

Let’s talk about the horror part. For those who are only used to super-hero films, it will be a shock. For a seasoned horror fanatic, it’s all just ordinary. It’s not terrifying or too bloody. There are some excellent gore effects in it, though. I personally found it simply exciting at certain moments. Exciting as in how the story will continue and end. And they even tried to tackle that part in an original and quirky way. The majority of blockbusters always have such a predictable outcome. In a western, the bad guys always eat dust in the end. A romcom has a happy ending in most cases. And even superheroes on the verge of despair will eventually prevail (such as The Avengers, for example). If you expect this to happen here as well, you’re absolutely wrong. But there’s one thing I’m sure of. The marketing department of Marvel already smells money. I bet they are planning a sequel already with The Avengers trying to beat the unstoppable Brandon.

About the acting, I can be brief and concise. Simply excellent. Especially the mother and son bonding was worked out and portrayed in a proper way. The desperation and motherly love that Elizabeth Banks radiates is simply wonderful to see. And even though Brandon seems incomparably innocent at times, the moment his evil ego pops up, he can conjure up a frightening and impressive facial expression. It’s just a shame he didn’t focus his anger on the annoying class bully as well.

“Brightburn” definitely will end up in my top list this year. The only downside was the duration. Far too short of course. But otherwise, this superhero parody, peppered with SF and horror elements, is simply sublime. The fact this film has a go-against-the-rules attitude and the idea of a superhero who doesn’t care about humanity is a pleasant and refreshing change compared to the commercial one-size-fits-all releases nowadays. Just something as simple as Brandon’s costume. Has anyone ever wondered who actually made the Spiderman suit? Or did Peter Park have a Sewing and knitting diploma? Brandon uses a piece of woolen textile and a bedspread as equipment. Ingenious anyway. As brilliant as the film itself. I keep repeating it. It is hoped that it will stay with this unique film and that they won’t come up with a miserable number of sequels.

Brightburn (2019) Movie Review By Philip Henry

Brightburn Review

Director: David Yarovesky
Screenwriters: Brian Gunn, Mark Gunn
Stars: Elizabeth Banks, David Denman, Jackson A. Dunn

OK, stop me if you’ve heard this one. A spaceship crashlands in Kansas. A farmer and his wife investigate and find a baby inside. Since the couple are childless and have been trying everything to become parents, they decide to keep the boy and raise him as their own. The comparisons with Superman’s origin story are no coincidence, because this film posits a very interesting question; what if, despite loving parents and all the corn-fed wisdom in the world, Superman had turned out bad?

Unlike Clark Kent, young Brandon Breyer’s (Jackson A. Dunn) powers don’t manifest until his twelfth birthday (aliens obviously knew the exact date he was going to land on Earth and use the same calendar as we do) and then the straight-A student and all-round nice kid starts to change. It’s a very creepy concept to explore what puberty with superpowers would be like in the wrong hands. Brandon’s attraction to a classmate leaves her creeped out and terrified of him as he quickly crosses that line between infatuated kid and violent stalker. His parents do their best to support him and keep him on the straight and narrow, but the voices whispering in Brandon’s head seem to have much more influence.

What follows is closer to a slasher movie than a superhero movie, with some of the goriest injuries and kills I’ve seen on-screen for quite a while. Brandon soon realises he’s ‘superior’ to everyone else and doesn’t have to do what anyone tells him. Elizabeth Banks plays his mother and gives a great performance. She’s one of those moms who’ll say: ‘My kid wouldn’t do that’ despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary. A line earlier in the film tells us her own parents had already written her off by that age, and she’s determined not to do the same. Brandon’s dad is more level-headed about what his adopted son is becoming, but he’s unable to stop him, despite increasingly desperate measures.

Brightburn isn’t officially part of the DCU; there’s no comic or graphic novel that this is based on, but I think the film-makers are hoping he will become an honorary member. During the closing credits there are oblique references to Aquaman and Wonder Woman, which suggests that Brightburn does exist in this same world. This movie does something that even Marvel haven’t attempted (yet) and given us a full film devoted to a bad guy’s origin story. It’s not one for the kids though; it’s got its fair share of F-bombs and the deaths are really visceral.

The other thing that separates it from the majority of superhero movies is the budget. Brightburn only cost $6M and at the time of writing this the box office figures collected two days after release show it had already taken $17M. That’s not big money for a superhero film, but with this low budget it’s already well in the black, so I hope that means a sequel will get green-lit quickly.

I like this premise and I really enjoyed Brightburn. It’s a nice twist to explore after years of superheroes who are committed to doing the right thing, and I think there’s a lot more mileage to be had out of this idea. If they take the time to develop this character properly, DC might have a supervillain worthy of bringing the gang together again for if they ever attempt another Justice League type movie.

 

Brightburn (2019) Movie Review By Steven Wilkins

Brightburn Review

Director: David Yarovesky
Writers: Brian Gunn, Mark Gunn
Stars: Elizabeth Banks, David Denman, Jackson A. Dunn, Matt Jones

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to see Superman completely high off Red Kryptonite?  Of course, we all have and thanks to Brightburn, we get a pleasantly good look at what NOT having an emotional tie to humanity can do to a overpowered being.

Let’s be very clear, this is absolutely a predictable film from start to finish but none of that takes away from the outcome.  When the Breyers (Banks/Denman) try for some time to conceive a child, prayers are sent from above when Brandon (Dunn) drops in on their farm one night.  They raise him as their own over the next 12 years of his life assuming all is well until one night “home” begins to call to Brandon. Now if you’ve seen just about any Superman film then you know the origin well.  Instead of accepting the task of heroics though, simply flip that script to taking over the world and you’re good to go.

Brightburn is a great, gory thriller, some emphasis on the gore.  It’s been some time since a mainstream film delivered brutality to the screen and you’re really never let down much once Brandon turns.  As he playfully stalks his prey, the hits come hard an swift.  You want to feel bad for some but really, any fan of superhero films has likely been waiting for this level of darkness and will cheer on every bleak moment delivered.

Simply put, Brightburn is no prestigious award winner but it’s a lot of fun and well worth the time.  Gather up a group and watch it together.  Enjoy

B+