Brightburn Parent Guide
Bad plot, bad pacing, really bad violence...bad film.
Parent Movie Review
Brightburn begins innocently enough: Tori and Kyle Breyer have been trying unsuccessfully to have a child and then, one day, a baby alien crash-lands in their fields. Thrilled with this unexpected infant, the couple name the baby Brandon and adopt him as their own. Even more fortunately, the child appears human, and is accepted by the family. However, when Brandon (Jackson A Dunn) turns 12, his mood takes a turn for the worse. And this isn’t just the normal ups and downs of adolescence…
As you may have noticed, this is basically Superman’s origin story with a “what if” question attached. What if Superman were evil? Honestly, I don’t think that question necessarily merits its own movie. The answer is the same as the answer to “What does a 500-pound gorilla do in a toy store?” “Whatever he wants.” Unfortunately for the characters in Brightburn, what Brandon wants to do is play Ted Bundy serial killer with the neighbors. I think the movie might have been more compelling if Brandon had been pursuing some concrete ambition beyond generalized sadistic megalomania. The “Evil Superman” question is more fun to explore if he has a specific agenda. Even if the screenwriters had chosen the standard want-to-rule-the-world-for-humanity’s-good, there might have been some reason for Brandon’s actions.
The biggest problem with this movie is violence, which is, frankly, just gross. I’m not squeamish or easily offended by blood and gore, but what’s really off-putting about this film is the sense that Brandon isn’t the only one enjoying the carnage. I’m not casting aspersions on the director or crew here, but the lingering shots of grotesque violence (including a woman slowly removing a large shard of glass from her eye) feel a little too drawn out.
The pacing is also pretty rough. It’s not a good sign when I’m checking my watch during a movie that barely clears 90 minutes. The first two acts bleed together into one slow, dragging horror/thriller, and then the third act turns into an old slasher flick and flies by. The cinematography has a regrettable tendency to announce that something spooky is going to happen by shifting to a very jerky hand camera, which is not only nauseating, but spoils any tension that might have built up.
I don’t think anyone would assume Brightburn is a family movie, but in case you were wondering, let me head you off at the pass: this isn’t even an adult movie. Not just for the unpleasant content, but because it’s not much good. The plot is predictable and unpleasant, as are the majority of the characters, and even Elizabeth Banks doing her darndest to save it isn’t enough. You’d be better off watching 1978’s Superman and Saw at the same time.Directed by David Yarovesky. Starring Elizabeth Banks, David Denman, and Matt Jones. Theatrical release May 24, 2019. Updated June 7, 2019
Watch the trailer for Brightburn
Rating & Content Info
Why is Brightburn rated R? Brightburn is rated R by the MPAA for horror violence/bloody images, and language.
Violence: A number of chickens are killed off-screen and their mangled bodies are shown. An individual’s hand is severely broken. Someone cuts their hand. A woman has a shard of glass embedded in her eye and is shown pulling it out. A person is thrown into a wall. An individual is involved in a car collision which forces the steering wheel through their jaw. Someone’s head melts. A character is hit so hard they basically just splatter onto the walls. An individual is thrown around a room until they die. A person is shown pinned to a wall with their chest cut apart and spread open. A character falls from thousands of feet in the air to their death.
Sexual Content: A married couple makes out while discussing fertility. There is a scene showing underwear models. There is a scene containing “The Birds and Bees Talk”, with references to puberty and masturbation.
Profanity: There is frequent use of moderate and extreme profanity throughout the film, as well as several terms of deity.
Alcohol / Drug Use: Individuals are shown drinking socially or having a nightcap. They are not depicted as drunken. There is no drug use shown or implied.
Page last updated June 7, 2019
Brightburn Parents' Guide
People sometimes joke that “no good deed goes unpunished”. That certainly seems to be the case for Tori and Kyle Breyer. It seems so unfair that their kindness in giving Brandon a home has such horrific consequences. Why do you think such awful things would happen to such good people? How do you react when bad things happen to you when you have been trying to be a good person?
Related home video titles:
To see the actual Superman origin story, Richard Donner’s 1978 Superman is honestly one of my favourite hero movies, and Christopher Reeve is a joy to watch.
Looking for a good guy gone bad? Try Captain America: The Winter Soldier in which the hero is ambushed by a man who was once a friend. And in Thor: Ragnarok, Thor is shocked to discover he will be fighting against his old friend, the Hulk.
If you’re looking for a superhero with real moral equivocation, check out Venom.