You’ve seen the trailer. Is this yet another superhero movie? We’re in the era of Marvel-mania. We’re also seeing DC Comics trying to compete. For some, it’s great entertainment. For others, we’re oversaturating the market. It’s not just movies, but television as well. So, when Brightburn was released, it was refreshing to see something we seldom do: a superhuman who’s violent, calculating, and totally insane. Oh, and he’s just a kid.
The film plays off the Superman mythology. A couple in rural America finds a baby in some spaceship that crashes lands on their property. They adopt the baby. He grows up. Dad hides the pod in the barn. What they don’t know is that evil has slipped through.
Elizabeth Banks and David Denman (from The Office) play Tori and Kyle Breyer. Their alien son Brandon, played by Jackson A. Dunn, seems like he could be a Clark Kent. It’s at his birthday celebration that his dark side starts to show. It’s terrifying. Dunn does a great job portraying someone who knows they have power over others and could be a destructive force that exacts brutal violence with impunity. Yeah, he’s Superman…if he turned out to be a serial killer. Brandon slowly becomes the ultimate anti-Superman, willing to kill anyone, including family members, who gets in his way or crosses him. It’s American Psycho…with a cape.
Banks's character embodies all the aspects of an unconditionally loving mother. It also blinds her to the fact that her “son” is a psychopathic alien who intends to carve a path of death and destruction on this planet. Denman plays a father who quickly realizes the danger Brandon poses to, well, everyone, though he’s tortured as to what to do about it. In the end, he finds a solution that ends very poorly for all involved.
The film, as noted by others who have seen it, has a good concept but bad execution. For all the goodie-goodie superhero films out there, it’s about time we see a superhuman that intends to kill, kill, and, kill some more. We need balance and a story about how not all alien children with superhuman strength and the ability to fly turn out to be like Clark Kent is something that was missing in this rush to adapt every graphic novel to the big screen. Is it worth seeing in theaters? No. Sorry, with the way movies are priced, this isn’t worth the cost. No doubt the producers shot for the A-grade, and this film doesn’t really have any bad performances per se. Bank, Denman, and Dunn all give solid performances, especially Dunn. But after we hit the credits—you can’t get around that this film, on a grading scale, is no higher than a C-plus. It’s worth a watch when it hits Netflix, Hulu, or Amazon, however.