The only creepy things about Brightburn, though, are its labored, derivative narrative, its giddy sadism (it gets off on Brandon’s adolescent power trip, and expects its audience to do the same), and its cynical built-in branding.
Brightburn – Critic Reviews For Brightburn
Longtime comic book readers know that depictions of an evil, all-powerful superhero aren’t exactly foreign to the genre. Depending on how you see it, Brightburn’s adherence to the structure of an origins story will either exacerbate or alleviate the ongoing superhero fatigue felt by many of us. For me, it was closer to the latter, the film’s nasty, noxious inversion of a story we have seen too many times proving to be a much-needed shock to the system.
The concepts of Brightburn was explored in a 2017 DC comic , a Halloween special that had many short horror stories in an “else world” style – one of these stories had Superman re-imagined as an evil invader (named “Bump in the Night”) – the short story even ends with the young Superman destroying the Kent farm and heading off to presumably destroy the rest of humanity, a striking similarity to how Brightburn ends (just like Brightburn the evil Superman of this story is a child (at least in appearance)).
Still, it’s somewhat understandable that so many writers over the years have imagined a world in which that initial response of pure fear directed at a being capable of such destruction was the norm instead of a cool cover. Brightburn pays homage to the visual in a surprisingly subtle way. After his uncle Noah (Matt Jones) finds out about his violent tendencies, Brandon begins tormenting his family member as Noah drives away in his truck. After showing up again in his creepy mask after the truck breaks down, his uncle starts screaming as Brandon lifts the car up into the air off-camera. The filmmakers don’t make it overly explicit, but it’s undeniably a reference to Action Comics #1 — although in the source material, Superman didn’t then smash the steering wheel into the driver’s face until he was a bloody mess.
The scariest part of Brightburn is the revelation that Brandon isn’t alone. As the credits roll, a humorous if foreboding online video featuring the conspiracy theorist The Big T plays, where he warns viewers about a deadly half-man, half sea creature,” and a demonic woman who strangles her victims with a rope. To anyone familiar with the DC universe’s heroes, it’s obvious that these two are evil versions of Aquaman and Wonder Woman , respectively. If their presence hints at a potential team-up among the evil super-powered beings, Brightburn could step up as the group’s leader since he’s this world’s Superman.
But the biggest surprise and disappointment of the film, given that it was produced by Guardians of the Galaxy clown prince James Gunn and written by his younger brother Mark and cousin Brian, is that it has zero interest in leavening the mood with humor, mordant or otherwise.
Like Clark Kent, Brandon Breyer (Jackson Dunn) is an immigrant. When his alien pod crash-lands in flyover country, Brandon is taken in by two loving Earth parents, played by Elizabeth Banks and David Denman. A montage of home video footage shows Brandon’s first steps; his first trip down a slide at the local playground; him cruising around the living room on a toy tractor—normal kid stuff. Then one day he sticks his hand in a lawn mower rotor and realizes he’s different. Where Brightburn dovetails with the traditional superhero story is at this realization: Brandon immediately begins to entertain the idea that he could also be superior. The next hour or so is Brandon quickly forgetting the difference between right and wrong, between what’s his and what isn’t, between friend and foe. Brightburn folds the discovery of Brandon’s powers into his first scrapes with puberty—he is 12—and his parents are left to the impossible task of navigating both.
As well as Brandon, The Big T refers to a half-man, half-sea-creature terrorising the oceans and a witch who strangles people with a rope that makes them tell the truth. Yep, there’s an evil Aquaman and Wonder Woman in Brightburn’s universe.
This attempt at a fresh take on superhero movies falters just after its setup, never really exploring its potentially interesting theme. Instead, it just becomes a gory Omen knockoff with superpowers. Produced by James Gunn ( Guardians of the Galaxy and GOTG Vol. 2 ) and written by his cousin Mark Gunn and brother Brian Gunn, Brightburn does start with a terrific concept. What if, say, Superman’s adoptive parents in Smallville failed to instill in him a sense of right and wrong, of generosity and kindness, of empathy? The answer is that he could easily have become a little monster, simply destroying everything. And that’s about it.
Brightburn,” a new superhero-horror film which hit theaters May 24, riffs on the classic origin story of the iconic American hero Superman. The film’s initial marketing was heavily centered around the involvement of its producer, James Gunn, because of his high-profile relationship to more traditional superhero media — he directed the first two Guardians of the Galaxy” movies and was on board for a third at the time. Gunn’s involvement with Brightburn” comes as no surprise, as the film was written by his brother and his cousin, Brian and Mark Gunn, although the film itself is not remensciscent of any of James Gunn’s own filmography. Brightburn” is simply a lame horror flick not nearly worth the outsized marketing profile circumstances afforded it.
With superheroes saturating the box office in the last couple of decades, a driving quest is to find something fresh. The concept of what if” — exploring alternate takes on characters — is one that comics have turned to for years, and Superman’s origin story has fuelled that type of tinkering (DC had a Russian-raised Supes in Superman: Red Son, Marvel offered Supreme Power, which followed an alien orphan on Earth who took a much darker path). Brightburn splices the Man Of Steel’s childhood with an even more horrific outcome, positing what would happen when an unusual boy with adoptive parents confronts the triple threat of puberty, school bullying and a mysterious whispering coming from the crashed spaceship in which he arrived. Answer: there will be blood.
The name above the title on Brightburn’s poster is James Gunn , who produced the film; its screenplay was written by his brother Brian and his cousin Mark. The director is David Yarovesky, who worked with the more famous Gunn on a few projects. Together, they’ve made a smart and extremely gory horror film. They understand the iconography they’re working with and play with it cleverly — Brandon, for example, is only seen in outfits of red and blue, and his superhero costume” is made out of the tattered remains of the blanket his mother wrapped him in when he first arrived on Earth, just the real Superman. Although Brightburn is not a comedy, Yarovesky and the Gunns have some fun with their dialogue. Listen closely early on and you’ll hear some of the characters foreshadow their later, untimely fates.
Produced by Gunn and written by his younger brother Brian and cousin Mark, Brightburn” is a dark twist on the Superman origin: It centers on a 12-year-old boy (Jackson A. Dunn) from another world raised by a Kansas couple (Elizabeth Banks and David Denman) as their own, but the kid turns out to be more evil than good.
The story centers around Tori and Kyle Breyer (Elizabeth Banks and David Denman), a loving married couple living with their adopted son Brandon (Jackson Dunn) on a farm in Brightburn, Kansas. When Brandon starts acting a bit strange, his classmates blow him off as a weirdo and his teachers blame it on puberty. Only Tori and Kyle know the truth — Brandon is actually an extraterrestrial they discovered as a baby in a crashed alien craft 12 years ago. As Brandon familiarizes himself with the amazing powers of his alien body, unsolvable incidents of violence begin occurring across Brightburn. Tori and Kyle must figure out what terrible things their son has decided to do with his powers — and what, if anything, they can do to stop him.
Sure, the plot is a little thin. But this is horror movie. If you are expected a thick plot, that is kind of on you. Brightburn is very much a horror movie, through and through. Predictable at parts, sure, but the ending did throw me for a loop. It was something I was not expecting at all.
To make matters worse, the Breyer family themselves—whom I will talk about in more detail soon—suffer from the same level of predictability during this part of the film. In scenes where we see Brandon’s parents, Tori and Kyle (portrayed by Elizabeth Banks and David Denman, respectively), they talk about things that were to be expected from the first act of a film such as this, like how they and Brandon should go on a vacation in the foreseeable future, and how one of these scenes would end with them giggling and kissing.
Another genre also pervades the silver screen, and that’s superhero movies. Clearly the creators of Brightburn saw this, as they decided to create a film that merged the two. Brightburn,” named for the town in which it takes place, is more Clark Kent than Superman. It isn’t superhorror. It’s just ordinary horror.
In an entertainment landscape dominated by superhero narratives, a movie like Brightburn was probably inevitable. Its ingenious premise – What if Superman, but bad” – is so simple that it can be delivered through iconography rather than words.
Tori, who typically sees only Brandon’s sensitive personality, is his constant defender who tries to rationalize his rage through a series of encounters with his school and law enforcement, and angry parents of the children Brandon has terrorized.
Instead, he handed the project to director David Yarovesky and screenwriters Mark and Brian Gunn (James’s brother and cousin, respectively), who clearly aspire to the intimate genre deconstruction of M. Night Shyamalan’s Unbreakable but don’t have the patience for that movie’s slow, deliberate burn.
Aware that their son Brandon (Jackson A Dunn) is behind a series of murders in town, Tori (Elizabeth Banks) and Kyle (David Denman) both try to stop Brandon from killing again, only for it to end badly for both of them. R – Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian. Contains some adult material. Parents are urged to learn more about the film before taking their young children with them.
Brightburn isn’t just grotesque and horrific (as R-rated horror movies tend to be). It’s cynical and depressing and utterly, horribly gratuitous. It’s almost as if its creators (including executive producer James Gunn, who makes a disappointing left turn from his much lighter Guardians of the Galaxy movies) were interested, like Brandon, in seeing how much pain and anguish they could inflict upon moviegoers.
Then of course the violence begins. This looks to be a fascinating, and horrifying take on a Golden age comic book origin story that we’ve all grown quite comfortable with. If nothing else, this looks to be the perfect synthesis of Gunn’s career as a horror auteur (Slither) and as a superhero storyteller (Guardians of the Galaxy).
One such kill seems to directly match the visuals used in the most recent Superman films like Justice League and Superman v Batman: Dawn of Justice — of course, those films didn’t involve Clark Kent blasting his adopted father’s brains out with eye lasers. Brandon also appears throughout the film hovering in the darkness with red eyes, presumably as a way to prep his heat vision for murder. Although the actual Superman doesn’t tend to heat vision his villains away, the past couple decades of comics have featured the Man of Steel appearing menacingly with red eyes — a habit that’s leaked out into the various Superman pastiche comics like Irredeemable and The Mighty.
What if a child from another world crash-landed on Earth, but instead of becoming a hero to mankind, he proved to be something far more sinister? With Brightburn, the visionary filmmaker of Guardians of the Galaxy and Slither presents a startling, subversive take on a radical new genre: superhero horror.
Brightburn essentially validates Batman’s fear in the one percent chance” that Superman may turn evil, while also proving Luthor’s hypothesis that demons don’t come from below, but from above to be true. Critics and Rotten Tomatoes aren’t quite feeling the burn when it comes to James Gunn’s thriller about an evil kid superhero.