Director: David Yarovesky
Writers: Brian Gunn and Mark Gunn
Starring: Elizabeth Banks, David Denman, Jackson A. Dunn, Matt Jones, and Meredith Hagner
Brightburn asks the question of what if Superman was evil? It follows the basic set up of the Superman story, a married couple who own a farm in Kansas are struggling to have a child, one night a spaceship crashes nearby with a lone baby on board. They adopt the child, and as he grows up, he discovers he has powers. The only difference is that in Brightburn the alien child, this time named Brandon Breyer (Jackson A. Dunn) instead of Clark Kent, is pure evil.
The concept feels like something that would arise from a comic book debate, that it would be more realistic if Clark Kent used his powers for his own gain. The similarities aren’t subtle, from the setting and plot to the powers that Brightburn has. It feels a little like an alternative reality comic featuring Superman, and that’s meant as a compliment, and it does succeed in making the point that this is a more plausible way for the situation to happen.
One of the best things about this film is how hard it leans into the horror genre. The first time that Brandon really uses his powers, in the diner scene, it does feel tense and starts to feel scary. Brandon is creepy and sinister. Jackson A. Dunn does a great job playing Brandon and really is both an innocent twelve-year-old and a villain. Elizabeth Banks is also great as Tori, Brandon’s adoptive mother. She sees the beginnings of his powers but doesn’t want to believe what’s happening. She wants to protect him at whatever cost.
When the film does get going it shows its major weakness. It’s essentially Brandon doesn’t like someone and then kills them in a horrific way, before moving on to the next one. The writing feels very repetitive, as if this was supposed to be part one of a series and this is just setting up the character. As the plot moves along it’s a little sad when it dawns on you that this is all it is.
Ultimately, Brightburn feels like a set up for future films, which we will have to wait and see if they happen or not. It’s an origin story for a villain, and the final moments hints at what’s to come. It doesn’t feel like the idea is being pushed as far as it could be, but it’s still entertaining. There are some nice moments of horror, but as its own film it does feel a little wasted.
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