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6.4 of 10 on IMDb? Clearly underrated!
This is one of those rare stories,that I feel could really benefit from an additional 30 minutes. The fact that the runtime is limited to 90 minutes, results in a lot of rushed scenes, which are consequenced by my biggest complaint, the editing. It feels like they shot all the scenes individually,but had no idea how to transition, so they stitched them together. You're just bouncing from scene-to-scene-to-scene and it's incredibly jarring. There are several moments when I thought, yes, this is interesting,but please slow down so I can marinate in it. Nope,next scene.
There are,however, a few redeeming aspects. The actors do a really good job, and I really wish they had more time to sell us on the material. The gore,is actually quite good; there are some really brutal, bloody moments that I enjoyed. And finally, the creative decision to add Billie Eillish' 'bad guy' was genius.
Overall,I don't really know what you're looking for in this story. If it's a dark Superman twist, you won't get it. If it's horror, it's mediocre. As a slasher gore film, not bad at all. I'd classify this as wasted potential.
What could have been done is that he started his killing spree earlier on, was discovered, and somehow, a solution was formed or attempts at a solution were implemented. There was no foil to evil 'super-kid'. All it ended up being was a big exposition and then the typical late-into-the-movie mounting body count.
The movie feels incomplete - like half a movie.
Beside the good things in the movie, there are bad things also.
The story did not include parts that we should have seen. We don't get to see what's happening inside the head of the boy. Almost at all! This is a big problem. We see him what he does, but we don't know why he does those things (only in basics).
In every movie there's a motivation. Here we don't have that.
On paper, that sounds amazing. A deconstruction of the iconic character that has actually worked surprisingly well in it's original medium- the comics. Furthermore, it is produced by James Gunn and written by his brothers, Brian and Mark. With Gunn being so closely attached to this project, how could it possibly fail? After all this is James Gunn we are talking about, the man who is responsible for bringing the d-list "Guardians of the Galaxy" to the big screen. Gunn's 2010 film, "Super" was also a deconstruction of the superhero genre by itself and "Slither" was an excellent homage to old school horror films. Looking back at his past filmography, "Brightburn" seems to be a sure fire culmination of them all. Unfortunately, this is not directed nor written by him.
As mentioned, the script was written by his brothers, who previously worked on "Journey 2", the one with The Rock. Director David Yarovesky who has done nothing really notable, other than a music video for "Guardians of the Galaxy 2" and some horror feature no one's heard before, helms this. Boy, does it really show. For a film that aims to subvert the superhero genre or the mythos, it does nothing new. Instead, the end product is bleak and dire that even out matches the dark DC Snyder-verse, in that area. However, it is also bland and dull.
For some reason, this film has no comedic elements or even fun at all. Although I appreciate it being in full horror territory, the lack of James Gunn's signature tongue in cheek tone is infuriating. It's as if "Brightburn" tries so hard to make fun of and criticize "Man of Steel" but becomes the worse version of it. There are so many elements that Yarovesky and his writers directly lift from "Man of Steel". Heck, even the score sounds similar to Hans Zimmer's epic. However, all these elements felt watered down and it is not way as glorious as it's predecessor.
"Brightburn" feels unusually cheap and I don't mean as a low budget film only. The script is weak and the narrative feels incomplete. Scenes felt like they have not enough shot coverage or footage available. The entire film feels too rushed as a whole. I can't believe that I missed the slower pace of "Man of Steel". There are also weird character decisions that don't make any sense and only seemed to be made for moving on the plot.
Despite the acting being mostly competent, I could not care less about the characters. There is zero character development whatsoever, especially for the evil kid and weirdly enough, there is also no mythology fleshed out at all which leaves a ton of unanswered questions by the end. Additionally, "Brightburn" suffers from most of the same pitfalls of being formulaic and generic as any other modern day horror film. There is an over-reliance on jump scares and cut away from as much from the gore as possible.
Overall, it is really maddening how the film never reached a bit of it's creative potential. What we have got is a bare minimum of a movie that is so subpar to even call it a deconstruction of anything. It should have been over the top, satirical or at least scary. It's funny as an over the top character, played by one of James Gunn's commonly worked with actors, showed up when the credits rolled, leaving you to realise this should have been the tone of the film.
For a better deconstruction of the genre, audiences might want to watch Josh Trank's "Chronicle" instead. Despite my hatred of found footage, I appreciate what Trank was trying to do and it is a proper way to look at the genre differently. Or audiences can just go and watch "Man of Steel" again as flawed as it maybe; Snyder did fleshed out a unique perspective of the character. This on the other hand, is I quote from another reviewer, a cheap one-night-stand that takes all your money and leaves you unsatisfied.
I really wanted to like this movie. It was off to a quick start, but sadly. That isn't always a good thing. There are seemingly no segway between scenes in the opening act, all the scenes just seem random and pieced together. I'm not sure if there were scenes that got cut or what, but there's practically no depth. The lack of depth extends from the scenes to the characters. I don't ever see the motive behind his anger. He's just a psychopath kid that wants to kill anyone that tells him no "yawn". This movie is incredibly boring and for a 7 million dollar budget, it really should not be this way.
For a movie that sells itself as "if Superman wasn't a good guy" there's also literally no buildup to the kid being normal to figuring out his abilities. He puts his hand in a lawnmower and next thing you know he's using his laser vision to slice through doors. I guess invulnerability and laser vision go hand in hand? I'm not saying he's kryptonian, but I can't imagine these are the kinda things one would pick up overnight, the kid didn't exactly sell himself as a genius.
His parents act completely clueless halfway through the movie. Talking about him when he's literally in the next room (guess he doesn't have super hearing, how convenient). Still pretending he's a child when they've seen the things he can do.
It's like they wrote this movie to suit a bad plot and not minds or hearts. The writers insult the viewers intelligence by just ignoring general logic. This could have and should have been a drastically different film. This is what happens with three Gunns, evidently.
The list of Cardinal Rules broken by the players in this tale of horror are too many to count. But I'm going to have a whack at most of them. ***These people should have watched Ryan Higa's "How to Survive A Horror Movie." (See it on YouTube.)***
First of all: You don't go out into the woods and pick up some stray baby from an alien spacecraft, keep the kid, and think things are going to be sweet and rosy.
Second: You don't stash the spacecraft out in the barn and think things are going to be A-okay.
Third: When your quiet little sweetheart of a kid crushes his classmate's hand into pulp, you don't brush it off as childhood shenanigans.
Fourth: When you find blood and guts photos secreted amongst your pubescent 12-year-old male kid's trash stash, you don't brush it off as saying maybe he's just boning up (har, har) for his bio class or whatever.
This movie made me think of Stephen King. Kind of his genre of thing.
What I liked most about the movie was the cast. The Dad, played by David Denman, is awesome in his role. Elizabeth Banks is okay. The kid with the laser eyes is highly watchable and believeable.
I had a bit of a hard time seeing Banks as a Kansas housewife, stuck out on a farm, denim overalls and all. What were they farming, anyway? A dozen chickens? And since when are there wolves in Kansas? There haven't been wolves in Kansas since they were "extirpated" (euphemism for completely wiped out) in the early 1900s. (I know, I looked it up.)
Okay. So many plot holes and trite goings on. But there are some GOTCHA! moments when you may leap up in surprise, too. There's definitely some nasty gory stomach-churning bits for those of you who enjoy that type of stuff. I'm gonna have a hard time wiping that guy in his truck scene out of my mind any time soon.
I gave this movie 7 stars. Watching David Denman is what made this a fun movie for me.
Having a character do things for seemingly no reason is the result of lazy storytelling. The kid came from space? OK, so what? The kid has superpowers? OK, why? Because he's from space? The kid takes a liking to a female classmate? OK, why? The kid is intent on killing people? OK, why? "Take world?" OK, why? Killing his Earth mother? OK, why? She was the only person in his life who wouldn't stop loving him. Is he going to (in subsequent sequels) just keep killing his guardians?
Every scene is exactly the same: things look normal, something upsets the kid, the kid's glowing red eyes appear ominously in the dark and/or rainy background, the person he's stalking turns around to see...nothing...and then the kid indulges in some pointlessly violent act of murder. I'm serious about this. Every scene follows the exact...same...pattern. (Each scene would have been fine on its own as the first five minutes of a different, more well-developed movie. But this effort just never moves past the idea of an introductory scene and, therefore, never develops any kind of plot or story arc.)
The boy's origins aren't explained. His motives aren't explained. His parents' obliviousness isn't explained. His powers aren't explained. Unlike its infinitely superior origin films such as Superman and Chronicle, there is no narrative story arc to this movie. There are no romantic interests, no friendships, no plot twists, no charm, no inspiration, and no point.
The Brightburn pitch seems to have gone something like this: Pitch-person: "Okay, so this baby crash lands on a farm just like in Superman only this kid is a sadistic, unempathetic sociopath who kills everyone he meets at the slightest provocation." Producer: "Sounds intriguing! Then what?" Pitch-person (looking at his watch and darting toward the door): "Oh, shoot. I have to go floss my cat's toes. But don't worry, I'm sure we'll figure out the plot as we go!"
I saw this movie with my wife and our two teenage boys. We all love the kind of movie we thought this was going to be. We all left the theatre, compared notes, and we all emphatically agreed that we should have walked out after the first five minutes. The upshot: This is not the movie you think it's going to be, and, as a fan of either the superhero or horror genre, you deserve much, much better.