Reviewish: Brightburn

A.K.A. What if young Superman were a right a-hole. (No real spoilers, but I warn you before I get into even the really tiny ones.)

There are few fans of any genre that are likely to walk away from Brightburn feeling entirely satisfied. Billed as a horror movie, the movie's trailers seem to ask the question "What would happen if Superman (or rather young, 12-year-old Clark Kent) were evil.

But that's not really what Brightburn is. Instead it is a question of what would happen if someone evil had Superman's powers. Which is subtly, but importantly different. Brightburn doesn't spend a lot of time on "why" or even "how" and so instead we have to be content with VISCERALLY graphic violence that was clearly where the movie wanted to spend its time and energy. The camera stays fixated almost lovingly on the visceral gore.

I'll spare the few of you intent on catching this big spoilers, but if you like a complete tabula rasa, be warned to proceed no further.

First of all, this movie is....EXACTLY what it seems to be. (Evil Superman) There will be no twists. No surprises. No delightful unexpected moments. If you've seen the previews, you don't just know the premise, you know most of the plot and probably can guess every major beat. For 90 minutes, not a single moment of Brightburn was anything but entirely predictable.

Brightburn is not a psychological trip into how a young boy can lash out, a deep examination of how power could corrupt a young person, or a smart examination of nature vs. nurture with the mythos of superman's origin story. Brandon's evil is triggered like a switch from an external source in about the first five minutes of the movie, and he goes from nice 12-year-old kid to sudden onset psychopathy, so he just turns evil with about as much tension as a board game when the bad guy always shows up on the fourth round. The only real question that seems to ever come up is what's going to set him off. But with every twist clumsily telegraphed, even those aren't really unexpected. And since he's gone full evil and is basically superman, the answer isn't exactly nuanced––it's pretty much everything and no.

Where the movie seemed to want to focus was on the intense visuals of how Superman would utterly fuck up regular people if he were evil, often including drawn out scenes of their very grisly demises.

We never really find out where Brandon came from or why he's flip-switched to evil, but it doesn't really seem to be the movie's concern.

If you didn't watch the trailer and think "I absolutely MUST see this movie," I strongly recommend you wait for it to be on Netflix or Hulu and hit it after a couple of drinks....and maybe with your robot friends.