A superheros origin tale gets a gory upgrade in this snappy, and mostly entertaining, antidote to superhero fatigue
Long before he became the alt-superhero auteur of choice, for both Marvel and DC, James Gunn was a proud peddler of niftily produced schlock. He started out at Troma writing their deranged midnight movie take on Shakespeares most tragic romance, before working with Zack Snyder on his ferociously satisfying remake of Dawn of the Dead. For his directorial debut, Slither, Gunn paid tribute to 50s B-movies with a gloopy small-town horror about evil alien worms and while he has risen the ranks since, smoothing out his edges to take charge of the Guardians of the Galaxy and Suicide Squad franchises, he remains an unabashed genre fan at heart. He recently wrote 2017s The Belko Experiment, a brutal workplace horror, and now he has produced Brightburn, an effectively nasty shocker that also acts as an antidote to the deluge of superhero films hes partly responsible for.
Written by his brother, Brian Gunn, and cousin Mark Gunn, the film flips the Superman narrative on its head, setting us up with an almost identical scenario before taking us in a far darker direction. In the small town of Brightburn, Tori (Elizabeth Banks) and Kyle (David Denman) are struggling to conceive, and after a meteor falls from the sky with a baby inside, they think their luck has changed. But as their adopted child Brandon (Jackson A Dunn) grows up, they realise that something is horribly wrong.
James Gunns involvement in Brightburn has been used as part of a rather cleverly trolling marketing campaign that has teased us into expecting a traditional superhero narrative (even the films Memorial Day release date, one thats often reserved for big-budget comic book fodder, feels like an in-joke). While the actual plot, squeezed into an often rushed 91-minute runtime, doesnt spend much time pretending, there are some nice visual nods, including some Snyderesque lens flare and a sweeping rural landscape, the central house interchangeable with that of the Kents.
While its refreshing that director David Yarovesky avoids the flab that overextends so many superhero films to indulgent durations, events unfold at such a speed that I found myself craving a little bit more meat along the way. For the first act or so, were thrown reveal after reveal without much connective tissue. While it might sound unreasonable to expect any emotional depth in a film such as this, more time could have been afforded to exploring the weight of Brandons discovery beyond what feels like a montage of trailer-ready a-ha! moments. Its a film thats good enough that you want it to be better, a rare genre example of less not proving to be more.
Read more: http://www.theguardian.com/us