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The Wasted Potential of "Brightburn"

Benjamin Wollmuth is a lover of literature who enjoys sharing his thoughts on everything from movies and video games to books and music.

Brightburn spoilers ahead!

Brightburn spoilers ahead!

Superman Gone Bad

If yous aw the trailer, you know the premise: Brightburn takes a classic origin story and flips it on its head. The story in question? Superman: what would happen if Superman was actually a messed up and sadistic child who wanted to murder everyone? This, to me, was a promising concept; it was unique and had never been done (in film, that is). However, this film falls flat in its execution. Here's how.

More Motivation

The movie simultaneously never ended and needed more time. If this movie was turned into a fun horror film instead of a mundane film full of cheap jump scares, a longer runtime could have suited this film well. Brightburn should have focused on more character development for the character of Brandon, this films Superman. The beginning seems rushed, almost like the writers did not care about developing the character and instead wanted to get into the gore (being honest, the stuff that most people probably came to the movie to see). However, if the film would have taken a deeper look into what was going on in Brandon's head, including the emotions he was feeling and the motivations he had, he would have been easier to understand. The film makes it seem like the ship he landed in, which seems to be speaking to him, is talking to him and convincing him to destroy the world. If this is the case, the writers did not explain the idea well enough for it to be completely understood. I still didn't exactly understand why this boy wanted to kill everyone. Maybe the kid is just mental (he most likely is), yet the movie could have delved into the idea more with a longer runtime.



Wasted Powers

A longer runtime (and most likely a bigger budget) could have led to some more intense death scenes, as well as made the movie scarier. The only thing that could really classify Brightburn as a "horror movie" are the aforementioned cheap jump scares. Brandon just is not that scary. He is a creepy kid for sure, with a lot of weird tendencies, but he is far from scary. This is a kid with powers nearing Superman, yet he uses them in the dullest of ways. Do something cooler than just picking up a truck a few feet off the ground and dropping it. Do something more creative than blasting lasers through a guy's face (even though it was kind of cool to look at). This movie could have done many things with the level of power Brandon had, but instead went with breaking a guy's jaw on a steering wheel or getting a piece of glass stuck in a woman's eye. The coolest stuff that Brandon did was mostly shown off-screen, besides the aforementioned laser-through-the-face moment and when Brandon breaks the one girl's hand. Hell, the best scare in the damn movie was shown in the trailer (which is typical nowadays when it comes to horror movies), not to mention Brandon's strange power of being able to make lights flicker on and off CONSTANTLY. Disappointing to say the least.

Parents Know Best?

I think Brandon's parents in this movie pissed me off the most. I'm not a dad, so maybe I just don't understand. However, I know for a fact that if something wrong were to ever happen in my household when I was younger, I would get blamed for it, even if they knew I was not the one who did it. The parents in this movie seem to be switching sides constantly. One moment the mother (Elizabeth Banks) is calling her son a monster, and the next she is completely defending him. The dad (David Denman) is right the entire movie until he decides to take Brandon on a hunting trip just so he can shoot him in the back of the head, all without telling his wife anything. How the hell was he planning on explaining that to her? They know Brandon's lying, yet don't do much about it. They know he fell from the sky, yet don't assume he's murdering all of these people. I know they needed to act this way for the plot to make sense, yet... does it make sense?

Scary? Or disappointing?

Scary? Or disappointing?

Final Thoughts

I guess I was expecting greatness when going into this movie. I love horror, so it pains me to say that this is yet another bland horror movie released as of late. There was so much potential, too. I didn't hate everything. There were some really awesome shots, and as I said before, the concept is unique. Yet, with the lack of character development, the underuse of Brandon's awesome powers, and the weird changing emotions of the parents, this movie did not stick the evil superhero landing. I am giving Brightburn a 5/10. I am still waiting for a horror movie to blow me away this year. Here's hoping that one actually does.

© 2019 Benjamin Wollmuth