Brightburn – Film Review
by Fran Winston
Directed by: David Yarovesky
Starring: Elizabeth Banks, David Denman, Jackson A. Dunn, Matt Jones, Meredith Hagner, Gregory Alan Williams, Jennifer Holland, Steve Agree, Becky Wahlstrom, Christian Finlayson
In cinemas June 19th
An alien baby is found by a childless couple who raise them as their own but when he hits 12 and the ship he arrived in awakens it triggers something in him and it becomes obvious that he has some special gifts.
No, this isn’t Superman or a Superman spin off. Although you could be forgiven for thinking that from the premise. In fact, this is a sci-fi horror offering that boasts Guardians of the Galaxy’s James Gunn as a producer. Given his love of the super hero and sci-fi genre it is no understatement to say that hopes were high for this.
Where it veers from the Superman style story is that instead of saving humanity the child, Brandon (Dunn), goes on somewhat of a rampage triggered by a message from the ship telling him to “take the world” and even his adoptive parents aren’t safe from his wrath. In case you were wondering, the title of the movie is the name of the town the family live in rather than a reference to the child’s powers. However, the posters do make this look somewhat misleading.
Overall, this disappoints somewhat. While it does offer a refreshing subversion of the superhero genre it doesn’t really follow through on any of the promises in its set up. Banks is great as Brandon’s adoptive mother but is completely wasted here. Dunn is suitably sinister as Brandon but it feels like “villain by numbers” at times which is probably down to Yarovesky’s direction rather than his artistic choices. Overall, the script doesn’t really give the actors a lot to work with.
There is nothing special about the effects – we’ve seen them all before – and the story itself offers little original (I refer you back to my superman references).
This had the potential to be great but it loses its way around the same time that Brandon discovers his gifts. It is OK but there is probably not enough of any of the referenced genres to satisfy fans. It’s not quite a full on horror, nor is it strictly full on sci-fi. There are very few surprises and you see most of the “twists” coming a mile away. There are one of two Easter Eggs which reference previous Gunn work which should keep super eagle eyed fans engaged but for the average cinema goer this will merely be a distraction for 90 minutes. If this was the work of a debut filmmaker with an inexperienced cast, I would probably hail it as a great first effort but given the calibre of those involved this really falls short of what you would expect.