Well I absolutely LOVED this movie.
Is it the most subtle movie around? Nah.
Does it do anything particularly new or interesting with it’s brilliant premise? Nope.
Can you predict the entire movie from the premise alone, and that’s just reinforced through the trailers and the opening couple minutes of the movie? Of course.
But GOSH I enjoyed the heck out of this movie.
So for those of you that haven’t heard of this little flick, BrightBurn is the story of Superman, spaceship baby landing in Kansas and getting raised by some farmers and everything… except he’s FUCKING EVILLLLL.
And yeah, that’s it. That’s the movie. Watch baby Superman go evil.
And it is BY NO MEANS subtle that it is supposed to be Superman. His name is Brandon Breyer, which is clearly a play off of Clark Kent. The first time you see him he’s wearing a blue shirt with red shoulders, he’s living in Kansas on a farm, and the opening two shots are his parents trying to make a baby while the camera focuses on books about miscarriages, followed by a shot looking out the window at some sort of crash in the woods.
No explanation that Brandon was found in the woods. No talk of the spaceship. No talk of super powers. You get none of that until later. The movie KNOWS that you know what this is about and it wastes no time explaining it to you.
The rest of the movie is Brandon’s descent into darkness one gory murder at a time, while Elizabeth Banks’ Tori continues to blindly stand by her son, with David Denman’s Kyle growing more and more suspicious.
That’s it. YEAHHHH I hear some critics saying they expected something more compelling and creative from this idea, and that’s fair. Evil Superman happens in the comics more than you’d guess and a lot of the time it’s used to parallel other ideas, like nature vs. nurture or cold war stuff, but this flick is fine just being a horror monster movie of sorts.
Okay there’s SOME Nature vs. Nurture stuff here, but I don’t think that’s the message the creative team was intending.
What they do intend was very clear. NO ONE can call this movie subtle.
Like, let’s talk about Brandon’s wardrobe here. YEAH, you think I just like to type movie reviews about my feelings and whether I enjoyed the jokes? NAH BOY, we talking fashion and it’s implications toward character growth YO!
Brandon starts the movie in a blue shirt with red shoulder pads. What’s that? Looks just like Superman’s outfit? NO SHITTTTT.
Brandon starts to be a murderous little shit soon, maybe not murdering people but CERTAINLY hurting them. Well in these scenes he’s shown wearing GREY. (Gray?) Kinda like he’s in the middle of a black and white mindset.
Brandon kills people, (spoiler?). From that point on, this boy is wearing RED. Heck, he actually changes into a red shirt after getting blood on his grey one. Murder LITERALLY changes his shirt color.
And his final shirt in the movie is BLACK. Subtlety, Thy Name Isn’t James Gunn. But still, I appreciate its bluntness. Meaning doesn’t have to be too subtle to be appreciated and the theming throughout the movie was really fun.
But man the “subtlety” (sarcasm) is EVERYWHERE. Even the editing! There’s at least two times where someone is like “Oh man, scared me to death” and the minute they say death it cuts to a murder scene. Great job.
THESE DEATHS THOUGHHHHHHHHH. Okay so the movie KNOWS you KNOW his powers, but it doesn’t want to show you them often. It goes real “Jaws” with it, showing only what you need to see. But when they DO show stuff it gets graphic. There were at least two moments where I just HAD to look away. One you can see coming, and the other… my jaw just dropped. And looking away didn’t help, the sounds… the sounds will haunt me.
Probably a little unnecessary, but I’m sure someone out there will appreciate it. Point is, don’t eat spaghetti while watching this movie.
And otherwise, it was pretty great! Unnecessarily gory, sure. Not the most interesting use of a great concept, totally. But it was chilling and solid and repeatedly the shots were memorable, and I just really dug it.
Already being a horror film, it’s not gonna be for everyone. Even taking that into account, this movie STILL isn’t going to be for everyone. But it was a pretty neat portrayal of just how badly the Superman story could go and I deeply appreciated it.
Plus I’m just happy James Gunn still has a career.
AND I WOULD LOVE TO SEE THIS BECOME A CINEMATIC UNIVERSE OF IT’S OWN.