Brightburn (2019)

Director: David Yarovesky

Cast: Elizabeth Banks, David Denman, Jackson A. Dunn, Matt Jones, Meredith Hagner

Screenplay: Brian Gunn, Mark Gunn

90 mins. Rated R for horror violence/bloody images, and language.

 

Brightburn is an excellent example of a “What-If?” kind of film, one that takes a previously established archetype and turns it on its head. For this scenario, the film takes a look at superheroes, most specifically Superman. No, they’ll never be able to say it’s Superman, but c’mon…it’s Superman.

When a spaceship crashes onto a small farm in Brightburn, Kansas, Tori (Elizabeth Banks, The Hunger Games, The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part) and Kyle Breyer (David Denman, Puzzle, Logan Lucky) discover a baby boy inside the wreckage. The two adopt the baby, naming him Brandon. Flash-forward twelve years and Brandon (Jackson A. Dunn, Avengers: Endgame, Gone are the Days), now nearing puberty, is becoming disobedient and troublesome. It is during this time that he starts to notice that he isn’t like all the other kids. He has superhuman strength and a violent temper. Tori and Kyle are forced to discover exactly what their son really is.

Imagine Superman…but he’s evil. It’s as simple as that. That’s not a bad thing. It’s a very interesting idea to explore in a film, and I mostly dug it. Perhaps the film’s biggest problem is that I don’t think it really explores the idea fully, and it doesn’t offer up enough twists and turns to maintain investment. I knew where it was going the whole time, and nothing really surprised me about the film. Near the end, it just kind of lost my focus. Something like Brightburn would be better as a short film or an episode of some horror anthology series. If you told me to come up with a story about an evil Superman, I’m pretty sure I would hit all the same beats as the film hit without much trouble.

I really enjoyed Banks and Denman’s chemistry and performances as Brandon’s human parents. Their journey of understanding who Brandon really is works pretty well, and I was invested in their conflict. The best aspect of the film is that question of what to do about him. That’s where the ethical discussion would come into play, and I wanted that further explored.

The rest of the film works fine enough, and it sets up where a potential would go, which excited me. Brightburn gives us some likable characters and a really tough premise, and it hits those horror notes really well. There’s some pretty gory stuff in the movie, and director David Yarovesky (The Hive) holds the tension very well.

Brightburn is a fun little experiment in the deconstruction of the superhero mythology. It works pretty well as a fun little horror movie, but my one major problem with the film is that it didn’t surprise me. Everything that happened in the film is exactly what I expected to happen, and that made me less interested in the narrative because I saw all the plot beats way ahead of time, and I would have liked something with a bit more to its plot. I still recommend it to horror fans and superhero fans for a good little time, and I would be totally into seeing a sequel.

 

3/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

[Box Office Report] Aladdin Grants a Memorial Day Wish for Earnings

Memorial Day weekend just ended here in the United States, and the four-day box office earnings have come out, and it looks like Disney’s newest live-action redo Aladdin has unsurprisingly taken the top spot with $112.7 million, but what is surprising is how much it made this weekend, even with trailer criticism and rumors of problems on set surfaced for months leading up to its release. The film initially garnered good reviews from critics which have somewhat middled-out since its premiere. The $112.7 was not enough to unseat Disney’s own Memorial Day weekend record of $139 million with Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End. It looks like people are willing to give Disney a chance on Aladdin. I personally thought the trailers looked fun, and I wasn’t going to give into trolls and critics on Will Smith’s take on the Genie because it is unfair to compare him to the late great Robin Williams and his classic vocal performance.

John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum held onto #2 this weekend with $31 million. The dropoff wasn’t terrible for the Keanu Reeves action film which is celebrating its best box office run in the series still. John Wick 4 has already been officially greenlit and will open in theaters in 2021, so don’t be too concerned for the John Wick franchise. This newest installment boasts some of the most intense and gripping action ever put to film, even if the story isn’t as strong as the original’s.

Avengers: Endgame took third place this weekend with $22.3 million. The long-awaited end to the Infinity Saga edges ever closer to Avatar’s worldwide record gross, but I doubt it will have the legs to make it past the James Cameron-directed sci-fi epic. The only factor still at play for the MCU’s latest is a possible bump when Spider-Man: Far From Home drops, but will it be enough?

In fourth this weekend is Pokemon: Detective Pikachu with $17 million. I was still hoping that the first live-action Pokemon film would have performed better, but give the hesitancy to see video game movies and the juggernaut of Endgame, I think the studio should still be proud of Detective Pikachu’s run. You also have to remember that Detective Pikachu was a popular game in Japan, but I’m pretty sure it didn’t even hit stateside until 2018.

The horror-film take on the superhero myth, Brightburn, opened in fifth place this weekend with $9.5 million, below forecast. Both this film and Booksmart took in less-than-stellar hauls, but I think timing on release was a problematic factor. There’s just too much out there right now and people made decisions with their dollars.

This weekend, I didn’t get a chance to nab any of the new releases mentioned here. I was only able to catch the somewhat wider release for the Ralph Fiennes-directed The White Crow. What did you see this weekend? Did you pick with your dollars? Let me know/Drop a comment below!

 

-Kyle A. Goethe

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