This. Is. Not. Good. Enough.
Brightburn was released in the Colonies on May 24, 2019.
It was released in Germany on the 9th of May.
It’s released in the UK (I caught an advanced screening) on the 19th of June.
If your in Turkey and waiting with baited breath to see this film (for some as yet unknown reason,) you have to wait until the 19th of July!!!!
For. No. Reason.
This isn’t 1964 where film is hard to make and transport, it’s digital. It’s not because there’s a three ring circus travelling the world publicizing the thing, beyond a poster on a handful of buses and an email asking me to an advance screening, Id have no idea it was coming out.
A global release date (both for streaming services and the silver screen) should be the standard for film. It would cut down on piracy and allow the global film community to discuss new films without worrying about spoiling it for people who have not yet seen it for no other reason than geography.
Global release dates now.
Ok, deep breath.
And toys back in the pram and lets get on with reviewing Brightburn, a film which can be summed up with the phrase ‘What if Superman was evil.’
On a budget of roughly £6.50.
Which is a seriously limiting factor. I mean, imagine what you could do with an evil Superman? You could force him to hang around with Richard Pryor, blow out the Olympic Flame and straighten the Leaning Tower of Pisa, waylay an oil tanker and breach the hull, causing a massive oil spill! Then you fight a supercomputer, defeat it with some random acid that that the bad guy had hanging around and then realize your film forgot to have Lex Luthor in it before making ANOTHER film with no budget and…
Actually…. Don’t do any of that thing.
Instead, lets set the film when he’s still in Smallville… I mean the town of Brightburn (seriously? You called your town Brightburn? You were just waiting for a super-villain to show up with that name.) But here you have erm… Buperman just discovering his superpowers and beginning to cut loose.
An interesting idea for the first third of a movie but that’s the whole film. I mean it’s great that someone has finally noticed that superhero films and horror movies are, beat for beat pretty identical.
But that’s one of this films major flaws, for maybe 90% of the films run-time if you swapped out Brandon Breyer!?!? No. The super-villain is not called Brandon Breyer. For maybe 90% of this films run-time, if you swapped out Clint Thrust with Michel Myers, I wouldn’t have noticed and when he does go full Buperman, you see what this film could have been.
The films got a really solid cast who do the best that they have but no-one’s really got much to develop and we never really get a chance to understand what makes Clint Thrust tick. Was he born evil? Was he turned evil by his spaceship? Was it the reaction of people to his developing powers that sent him over the edge?
I mean, the kid playing Clint is fantastic as someone who discovers that he’s basically a God but again, what makes him tick? There’s a reason that the Smallville stuff never really plays much of a part in any Superman films it’s because we get that he has powers, now we want to see him use them. Here though, it’s the entire film.
I would have preferred it if Clint had gone to the big city and defeated it’s superhero and ruled over it with an iron fist or even if he had ruled over Brightburn, effortlessly defeating all those who oppose him by transforming them into Jack in the Boxes or banishes anyone thinking unhappy thoughts into the otherworldly cornfield from which there is no return…. Oh wait, that was a similar episode of the Twilight Zone, never mind.
Unless somehow James Gunn thinks the audience needs a film to explain the concept of people with superpowers because that’s one thing this iteration of cinema really doesn’t need any help on that front.
It feels constrained by it’s horror movie beats. I should not be able to swap out a super-villain with a generic horror movie monster and be unable to tell the difference. It’s all so by the numbers and constrained. For some unknown reason I get the feeling that Eli Roth might have been a good idea. I mean with a budget this low you can afford (relatively) to go for it with the gore and horror.
Look, Brightburn is a fun twist on the superhero genre and if there’s sequels then I hope that the filmmakers get to explore this universe a little more. Possibly with Blumhouse support. This feels very much like their wheelhouse. It’s good but if it had really gone for it’s ideas and developed its characters, then it could have been great. In a dark, twisted, sick way which would have been a fantastic antidote to yet another helping of 12a CGI infested focus tested sludge.
My Score- If Nothing Else