Spoiler warning for anyone who hasn’t seen the movie, this review will contain heavy spoilers so… that’s your warning.
Okay, let me just start off by saying that I can completely understand why Bruce doesn’t trust Superman. Brandon Breyer starts off as an innocent kid who seems likeable enough in the first act of the movie. However, things start to shift away when he discovers the powers and strength within him. Jackson A. Dunn playing Brandon was convincingly creepy, the kid just has that vibe that says I’m going to kill you now. The movie is really at its best when it focuses on Brandon basically being evil Superboy. Brightburn sets the idea that Brandon isn’t really a normal kid from the beginning. He doesn’t EVER smile, he never really conveys any emotions and he’s almost always tense. Now, I’d understand if there was a war around him but in the first act, his mainly just going to school like any other kid. The movie tries to push it a little much and it comes off a little forced. We get that Brandon is a “Superman” being but give him some personality.
Also, Elizabeth Banks and David Denman play their roles of the parents pretty convincingly. However, and this is probably one of my bigger problems in the movie but Brandon’s parents aren’t very smart. In one scene Brandon returns home late at night after he’d just killed his uncle… yeah. Anyways, Brandon lies to his parents, saying that he went out playing football with some kids from school. Mind you, he walked in shirtless because his shirt was bloody and this is my problem with the scene. Your son walks in shirtless, his shirt is stained with some blood, you KNOW his lying… what do you do? Well, Brandon’s parents just lets him go upstairs to bed. Now, its not so bothering that it’ll make you dislike the movie but the unrealistic nature in the scene really pulled me out of the movie. I kept thinking that surely they’d punish him, they’d do something that would indicate good parenting.
You may have already heard about the violent and gory nature of this movie and that’s part of what made the movie intense for me. One point in the movie, a waitress named Erika finds herself trapped in her own diner as Brandon is about to kill her. The movie doesn’t exactly show how but the windows all around her explode and a shard of glass enters her eye. This was unbelievably graphic… and that’s just one scene. The movie doesn’t pull its punches and I like that for the most part. It makes sense because any human would be defenceless against someone like Brandon. The budget for this movie is only 7 million dollars, however, the action, CGI and cinematography are all handled well. There is one scene where the CGI looks a little off and it’s at the beginning with Brandon throwing a lawnmower into the air as he accidentally discovers his powers.
Something the movie does well is that it doesn’t waste time. The writers of the movie know the audience are familiar with Superman’s origin story and skips all of that. However, with that came a bit of an issue for anyone who had seen any trailer for this movie. Brightburn doesn’t leave anything for surprise. My Goodness, the trailers literally give away EVERYTHING in the movie so whenever a “twist” would come along, you’ll know it was coming. At one point Brandon breaks a girls hand after she calls him a pervert and my friend told me he’d seen this in the trailer. It wasn’t just one scene either. There were scenes when I thought to myself, “I probably shouldn’t have watched the trailers”. It’s a pain because I think the movie would’ve done better for me if the trailers weren’t so revealing.
Brightburn also hints at the possibility of building a universe. Within the post-credit scene, the movie hints at an evil version of Aquaman which caught me by surprise. The movie also hints at a “witch with a lasso choking people to death”, take that as you wish but some are taking it as a evil Wonder Woman. This is a pretty cool idea but it makes me wonder if DC/WB may sue later on. This does seem unlikely but still, if the “Brightburn-universe” ends up doing better than the DCEU, it may become a problem for WB.
My biggest problem with Brightburn is that it just isn’t as smart as it wants to be. This is what I thought when leaving the cinema. Unfortunately, the movie tries to delve into the psychological aspect of why Brandon is the way he is but it never really succeeds. It never does get you to truly understand Brandon’s motivations. Instead, the movie cheapens the story by throwing this generic evil voice that kind of guides Brandon into becoming evil. The story just didn’t pull me the way I would’ve liked. The concept of an evil “Superman” is a great one, you can do so much with but not much is done here. The movie further exploits its own bad storytelling later in the third act when Brandon expresses to his mother that he wants to do good. This is just not shown at all. At no point in the movie does Brandon save or even attempt to help others. There’s nothing at all within his personality that indicates Brandon wants to do good. The line is thrown into the movie randomly and far too late in the movie for them to explore that possibility.
By no means is this a bad movie… however, the movie does suffer from its own bad storytelling and the weak exploration of Brandon’s character. The movie is fun, providing a lot of great action and some really tense moments. Is the movie worth watching? Sure, just not in the cinema. The movie has an interesting premise but the writers don’t do much with it. A lot of the time when watching the movie I was entertained, its the after taste of the movie that made me go, “Oh… this probably could’ve been better”. I’d suggest waiting for your streaming service to add this movie or renting it for a cheap price. It’s a fun movie to watch, as long as you don’t expect too much from it.