After the kids went to sleep the other night, I caught a little bit of a suspense thriller, Brightburn. The Starz description asks, "what if a child from another world crash-landed on Earth, but instead of becoming a hero to mankind, he proved to be something far more sinister?"
Elizabeth Banks and David Denman play Kansas farmers who start the movie trying, again it seems, to get pregnant. A spaceship crashes in the woods near their house. They clearly absorb the child into their family, with the introductory montage, and the movie jumps ahead until he's about 12 years old.
A tale borrowed from Superman, but with a twist explored as in Megamind; what happens if the alien baby you adopt from the spaceship doesn't turn out to do good?
No real spoilers.
I liked the idea of the movie, and the actors and scenes in the preview. I always like little twisty movies, too.That this was a "Sci-Fi horror movie" made it also a little intriguing. I was skeptical that they wouldn't be able to hold onto the Sci-Fi bits, and would go right to horror. So I watched it, figuring the worst that could happen would be a horrible movie. It was not.
Knowing the Superman story, the first few minutes of the movie are a nice, quick setup. They're clearly decent people, and he's clearly a happy child. I figured once they flashed the "ten years later," that either tragedy had occurred (it did not), or he was going to make some coming of age changes while discovering, as Superboy had, that he's special.
The movie takes a clever look at what loving parents go through as their child discovers he's a crashed alien survivor. There was no indication that there is a Superman in their movie world, or any other superheroes, beyond perhaps imagination and stories. With this, of course, there's nothing but room for the characters to explore their own progressions.
I was a little disappointed that while he happened to self-discover some of his differences, like super-strength and evident indestructibility, he was also being beckoned by indiscernible voices breaking into his dreams and making him a bit zombie-like. They started down a great "what's going on?" path, and I think I would have liked it better if he'd simply happened upon these, and then blended it with his own growth experiences and teenage angst. Maybe they didn't have time to make that in the movie.
He has several conflicts that push him over. He has unrequited love, or more like a crush, that almost requites. He's got parent and school trouble. Plus, as his parents discover he's got these new capabilities, and then suspect he's evil, they try to kill him (no spoiler...it's in the preview). He doesn't want to get into trouble, although he is because he can't quite work out his new self, and he works through them in a selfish, dark way. The treatment is totally believable, and his self-management is believable. It works well to turn him from the caring little nerd into a bit of a brute.
The movie holds true to its Sci-Fi promise, and brings a bit of horror into it, too. There aren't ever any other aliens, but as an immature killer might do, he bungles and makes a mess of all kinds of things. Thankfully, it isn't all done just for the raw gore of it, although there is a little bit. It's wrapped in suspense with a thread of mystery for the characters. As we're following little Brandon's discovery, we're keenly aware of where the clues lead that the other characters are discovering.
I enjoyed all of the camera work and other story elements. All of the characters seemed rich, with very few trivialities, and no real bad acting. The character growth and discoveries seemed genuine, and the plausibility of it all was neatly contained with the denial of a situation one might feel if one was also presented them.