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Cinema Trips 'Brightburn'

My thoughts on the James Gunn produced evil Superman film.

Brightburn is a 2019 indie sci-fi/horror film starring Elizabeth Banks (The Hunger Games, Power Rangers), David Denman (The Office, Power Rangers), and Jackson A. Dunn (Avengers: Endgame, Shameless). The trio form the family of this Superman-esque narrative that takes a look at what would happen if this godlike being ended up being a bad egg, with Jackson playing the super powered alien. The film is directed by David Yarovesky (The Hive), and is written by Brian Gunn (Journey 2: The Mysterious Island), and Mark Gunn (Journey 2: The Mysterious Island). The film is also produced by James Gunn (Guardians of the Galaxy, Slither), with the music being done by Tim Williams. 

Narrative

The narrative is not all too complicated, it is simply the premise that we were sold on to begin with. What if Superman was evil? There is nothing more to this film beyond that. We are shown some interesting fatalities within the film and some gruesome imagery, though beyond that it does not go deeper than the central premise. As a result of this, despite the brisk ninety minute runtime, there were times when the pace of the film really lagged and seemed as if there was an incredible amount of filler. It felt as if this was an idea for a thirty minute long short episode for a 'what if' concept that was elongated to fit a theatrical runtime. These moments of stagnation made it harder and harder for me to stay interested in the film, only reviving me when the finale of the film came around.

Characters

The characters had one note that they played throughout the film, which is nothing bad on its own, however the film would have benefited greatly had the characters had been written with a greater depth to them, primarily because there is a sense in the film that seems to have greater character arcs to have been considered. There is the sense that the outcome of the family is treated as a tragedy, however we are not shown a great deal of the family dynamic at the transition from the good times to the bad, which makes it seem as if some characters turn on their beliefs at the flip of a hat. What they attempted to do with Jackson’s character was evident, while not being executed properly, making his behaviour far more in line with a light switch being turned on, as opposed to a gradual change to the character.

Visuals

Visually, it is very obvious that this is an indie film that was made on the budget of a ham sandwich, when compared to some of the big budget blockbusters from Hollywood, as such, it is admirable that the filmmakers decided to go through with the project regardless. That being said, it was obvious that their visual effects budget was very, very, very low. The moments when Jackson is flying are very limited, and aside from the stationary segments when he is hovering in the air, you only get a blur on the screen for a split second. Regardless of what you may think of Man of Steel and Batman v Superman, the standard of visual effects in those films when it comes to Superman flying has set an incredibly high bar, so much so to the point that the flying effects in this film seem student level in comparison. In addition the compositing in the finale of the film felt amateur and one could easily see where green screen was used (however, it was still better than some of the compositing in Captain Marvel). That said, the fatalities in the film, and the gore effects are top notch.

In Closing

Is this a good film? No. Is this a bad film? No. It is an average film, and considering how excited I was to see this film, average seems to be a bigger disappointment than it should have been. Would I watch this film again? I would not go out of my way to watch it, however if I happen to come across it in passing I would watch it because despite my many qualms with the film, there were times I really enjoyed myself watching it. So in closing this is a film that I recommend you watch if you are bored for an hour and a half on Netflix.

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