Brightburn (2019): Superman: The Quest for Rest In Peace

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“Brightburn” is directed by David Yarovesky (Guardians of the Galaxy, The Hive) and stars Jackson A. Dunn (Shameless, Legendary Dudas), Elizabeth Banks (The LEGO Movie, The Hunger Games), David Denman (The Office, Traffic Light), Matt Jones (Mom, Breaking Bad), and Meredith Hagner (Men at Work, Search Party). This film revolves around a family and its child, Brandon Breyer. Brandon is growing up fast, and at times seems to be a relatively normal child. But we soon discover that he has powers, he sometimes behaves poorly, and he has various elements of a psychopath. Basically, take Superman, but make him malevolent, wicked, and some sort of equivalent to a devil worshiper.

I originally saw the first trailer for “Brightburn” last year, and I was somewhat excited for this film upon seeing that trailer. It looked beautiful, bold, and a tad scary too. In a way, this film is a mix of horror and a traditional comic book style story. The movie is not based on any preexisting property by name, even though it does contain similarities to “Superman.” To add even more comic book and superhero elements into the mix, let me just point out that James Gunn, director of the two recent “Guardians of the Galaxy” films, has a producer credit on this movie. This film is also kind of a family project, because the two writers are related to Gunn. You’ve got Mark Gunn, a cousin of James. And Brian Gunn, who happens to one of James’ brothers. It’s clear that this movie was partially done with combined passion, and it’s nice to see a family come together to entertain audiences. Granted, I don’t like everything they’ve done. I think “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” may be one of the most overrated movies of the past few years. And both Brian and Mark wrote “Journey 2: The Mysterious Island,” which may be my least favorite movie with The Rock in it.

But with all of the creative forces combining together for “Brightburn,” how did they all add up? O-K? I guess? This was not my most anticipated film of 2019, but it was up there in terms of films I was looking forward to. In fact, of all the films that came out during its particular opening weekend, it was probably the one I wanted to see the most. Granted, I ended up seeing “Booksmart,” which ended up being good. I still have no interest in seeing “Aladdin,” but I finally got around to seeing “Brightburn” only to have numerous less than positive things to say about it. I mean, it’s not all bad. But it seriously could have been a lot better.

As a concept, it is certainly intriguing, and there are a lot of ideas that go into the concept that are executed fairly well. That being said however, this almost seems like a pitch movie.

“It’s gonna be Superman, but evil! Comic book movies are the thing right now! Let’s see what we can do with one of the most iconic comic stories of all time, but with a sinister twist! It’s gonna be great!”

This movie ultimately reminds me of a movie like “Lucy.” Remember “Lucy” from 2014? If you haven’t seen “Lucy,” Scarlett Johansson plays this girl who gets drugged by some less than friendly people, all the while discovering how to use more than 10% of her brain. It seems like a good movie to write with a couple of people around you, discussing ideas of how to use one’s brain at a greater level than what mankind is traditionally capable of. But it doesn’t mean anything for the movie in terms of how watchable or compelling it will turn out in the end, it’s just a collection of seemingly rad ideas.

If there were an evil Superman per se, this movie would be a good example of how such a character would work. In fact, I literally do mean evil Superman because the movie starts off with a crash on a farm, and the crash involves a baby boy. This baby grows up, we see him seemingly hitting puberty, and he becomes a stalker, an aggressive talker, and a violent maniac.

I also gotta give props to everybody acting in this movie, and this even includes our lead kid actor, Jackson A. Dunn. He owns the part as Brandon. He’s almost a perfect embodiment for a child of his age in terms of how he presents himself (despite being more aggressive than the average person). When he would cover up truths or lie, I felt like that would usually be how a kid of his age would do such a thing. And he, thankfully, did not overplay his character in any scenes involving dark violence, gore, etc. I guess in that sense, I might as well give props to the director for properly handling this film’s scenes.

But sticking to acting, the two standout performances in the movie have to be from the parents played by Elizabeth Banks and David Denman. The best part about their characters to me really sticks out like a sore thumb during the halfway point, specifically how they view the main situation of the whole movie. And it just goes to show how far Elizabeth Banks’ character would go to unconditionally love her kid. Granted, there are slight hints of wanting what’s best for him. But at the same time, she comes off as one of those mothers who will put her kid before anyone else regardless of how they behave or what they tend to do in their daily life. This sort of reminds me of those situations where a parent will endlessly defend their child or deny any of their faults. Her character’s thoughts and actions are completely different compared to those of David Denman’s character, who thinks the kid is up to no good, he’s violent, and he’s showing no signs of being a sane person.

My last compliment I can really give to this movie is that it does look really nice. The cinematography kind of made me feel like taking several deep breaths of fresh air. Granted, I did watch the movie through a 4K Blu-ray, but still. I also dig the farm location, I think overall, it suits the movie very well.

In the end, “Brightburn” is a movie with an interesting twist on a well-known concept, but I don’t know if I’d ever watch it again. Comic book movies are currently more popular than they’ve ever been. This is not based on a comic book, but if you told me it was, I wouldn’t be surprised. One trend I’m seeing now is the rise of comic book villain stories on film. We just saw it in “Venom” last year, which sucked hard. And we’re seeing it again this October with “Joker.” Thankfully, this is not anywhere near as unwatchable as “Venom.” But this movie doesn’t add anything big or bold to the type of genre with which it is trying to associate. “Brightburn” is a tad scary, it is somewhat entertaining, it is well-acted, but it doesn’t have an enormous “oomph” factor to it. I’m going to give “Brightburn” a 6/10. Thanks for reading this review! This weekend is the release of Brad Pitt’s “Ad Astra,” which I hear is getting great reviews so far, and I cannot wait to check it out whenever I can! I’m hoping to go see it Friday, because I do have Fridays off from school, so it would be good timing on my part. Plus, I am busy Sunday evening, so I can’t go see it then. Also, while not completely official, I wanted to touch upon another recent trend in the movie world, specifically “alternate programming at the movies.” If you have been following the news lately, sporting events and TV shows are making their way to cinema screens, and I want to talk about that! Be sure to follow Scene Before if you want hear me talk about this, or other movie-related topics! Also, check out my Facebook page! I want to know, did you see “Brightburn?” What did you think about it? Or, what is your favorite “Superman” movie? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

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