The concept behind Brightburn is very original and has so many options attached to it. I love the idea of an evil spin on the Superman story. A pod crash lands in Kansas and a barren couple takes in a helpless baby and once he enters his pre teen stage, he discovers his powers and uses them for evil. That is a very intriguing set up and it has a whole lot of potential for a thrilling and interesting film. It also has potential to set up a franchise, which I’ll get into later.
Brightburn really hits the ground running. Exposition is basically non existent here. I got into the theater just as the final preview was ending, so I knew I hadn’t missed anything but damn it sure seemed like I did. I mean there is less than a minute of backstory before it says 10 years later and we’re thrown into the main story. I was surprised at how short the exposition was and really wanted a more developed beginning to it all. That’s the first negative here, the lack of both story and character development.
Elizabeth Banks and the cast try their absolute hardest to uplift the lacking material. The cast and the performances they give is for sure this film’s best card, and it’s played well. I really loved Banks’s portrayal of Tori; it was so believable. She brought all the confusion, frustration, and fear and it made me care about her character in spite of the lack of development.
David Denman is very good also. Denman plays the father and gives a very strong and spirited performance. Him and Banks have good onscreen chemistry too; the scenes where they are fighting work especially well. Matt Jones, who I’ve watched in the CBS sitcom Mom for years, is a delightful surprise here. He provides some comic relief in this tonally dark film. He has one scene where he had everyone in my screening cackling; he just has a knack for making people laugh and it didn’t feel drastically off. With everything that was happening, that little funny moment almost felt like a wink from the film, kind of like yeah we know this is what you’re all thinking as you’re watching this kid wreak havoc. Now as for Jackson A. Dunn, the child star of this film, I have mixed feelings about his performance. So I feel like when he’s evil, he’s good at portraying that for the most part. But when he needs to seem nice or like a normal kid, that’s where he gets into some trouble. He never seems welcoming or endearing in any way, he actually comes off as rather bland in the beginning.
I guess he pulled off the evil side though because all I wanted to do was kill the sinister little brat…. and then for the sequel, I hope to god we find wherever the hell he came from and wipe that out. Sony… call me I’ve got some thoughts. A lot of the scary scenes are effective in eliciting tension and a feeling of suspense, it probably helped that I saw it in a big loud theater. The gore was actually rather tame until about midway through, then one death happens where I was like ok come on did we need to see that one thing? I only had issues with one shot that I thought went the shock/exploitative route, which I’m really not a fan of. The pacing is a bit uneven overall, but I will say that certain scenes and sequences are handled nicely. I especially loved the ending and what happens between Dunn and Banks. The ending of that scene is done so well and the way in which it’s handled hits you pretty hard. A fitting score also has a hand in the effective nature of that final scene.
I ultimately have mixed feeling about whether or not I would recommend going to see this in the theaters. The film is flawed and doesn’t reach it’s full potential, but it also has some pretty good things in it and you get the full effect on the big screen. I’d say go see this in theaters if you have a gift card or just rent it if you have a good surround sound system at home. I do hope we get a sequel and I hope two things happen. 1) I hope the development is better and 2) I hope where he came from is explored heavily.