Brightburn (2019)

Okay, so every year I do end of year awards. These include the good (best actress, best film, etc), but also the bad (worst film, worst moment, etc). Usually these are decided near the end of the year once I’ve had distance from a lot of things, that way my response isn’t too immediate and I don’t put a meh film as one of the worst films of the year. It takes something truly special to get nominated for an award that soon after seeing it. For that to happen I have to be 100% certain it will deserve it. Why am I mentioning that now? Because this will get nominated, in fact it’s probably the frontrunner for one of the awards. So which one?

Best film?

I mean, it’s about what if Superman was evil, I love dark unique films and this fits it. But it’s not that. It’s way too pedestrian for that, and it never lives up to the potential that the concept promises. It feels way too restrained but I’m not sure what by.

Best actor for Jackson A. Dunn

He plays the title role as a young teen coming to terms with the fact he’s essentially God. A fascinating character that a lot of young actors would kill for. So is that where it wins? Nope, he is good, very good in fact, but not great.

Scariest Film

I mean, the idea of a Superman-like character being evil is a terrifying concept to think about. But it’s not that. A lot of the violent scenes come off more comical than scary. There’s a moment where he snaps a character’s hand, it’s the first piece of ultraviolence in the film, and it was met with laughter in the screening I was at.

Best Character

It has to be that, right? I’ve never been invested in Superman as a character as I’ve felt he’s too good and perfect. So a twist on that should enthral me, right? Nope, it makes so many allusions to Superman that it doesn’t feel like a real character in itself. It’s so in debt to its influences that it never stands out as an independent thing.

Best Moment

Close. This film needs chaos and violence, but 90% of it was in the trailer. Actually now I think about it, most of the film was in the trailer. Almost all of the major story beats, including the ending, were in the trailer. IIRC, two of the main characters final lines are in the trailer. That’s just weird. It does come close with the post-credits scene though. Setting up potential sequels and spin-offs which do excite me. Yeah this film kind of suffers the same problem as M.Night’s Glass Trilogy, where at the end of each of the three films (Unbreakable, Split, Glass) I wasn’t excited about what I just saw, but I was excited to see what happened next (not excited enough to go out of my way to see them, but meh). Same here, I want to see what happens next. This film seems very much like a prequel to a much better film, but there’s a chance that film (a kind of evil Justice League) might not happen. Which is a damn shame.

So, which award will this be nominated for? I’m ashamed to say:

Biggest Disappointment.

I really wanted to like this film. I bigged it up to people for months, so for it to be so boring is a huge disappointment. It felt too long despite only being 90 minutes. It had some interesting moments but overall it just felt like I was playing catch up to the trailer. This should have been great, yet it’s not even okay.

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Glass (2019)

This was perfectly serviceable, but that’s it. I wish this was better. I really do. It had moments of a great movie. The plot is interesting as hell and it was great to see an Unbreakable sequel, and it was always going to be interesting to see that mixed up with Split. So why doesn’t this work? I think the main issue is the script. M.Night is great at coming up with ideas and concepts, but he really needs to find a writing partner who can iron out a few of his weaknesses. Maybe even just focus them down from 10 ideas to 2. It’s great to see Anya Taylor-Joy in anything, but her characterisation doesn’t really make much sense in this film considering what happened to her in the last one. It would be like if the Halloween sequel had Laurie Strode set up a shrine to Michael Myers. It doesn’t ring true and is kind of problematic.

That’s not my biggest issue with the script. Surprisingly my biggest issue isn’t even the obligatory twist ending (although I will go into that later on. You know what? Fuck it, I’ll go into it now. There are two twists, one is that James McAvoy’s character was killed in the train crash in Unbreakable. We already knew he died in a train crash, so everybody guessed it was the same one. The other twist is that Sarah Paulson’s character turns out to be evil, an ending which was figured by, I dunno, EVERYBODY who watched the trailer), no, the real problem is one that someone reading it really should have fixed. Most of the movie is about Sarah Paulson’s character convincing the main 3 that they are not extraordinary, and are in fact just normal members of the public with delusions. That the metal they bent was severely weakened etc. This would be a unique arc for a superhero film, if it wasn’t the third film. As it is, we’ve already seen what they can do, so we know they have powers. So it just seems like a massive waste of time. That wouldn’t matter if the story was compelling, but it’s incredibly dull with some quite bad dialogue. Actually the dialogue is a constant problem here as it doesn’t so much ignore the “show, don’t tell” theory, as talk it into submission. Almost every character explains their motives, explains their feelings, and (worst of all), explains the differences between this and a normal superhero story.

Also, the ending is kind of a damp squib. I feel the same way I felt after watching Unbreakable, disappointed at what I just saw, but really excited about what happens next. Which is good for the sequel, but bad for this films chances of me ever watching it again.

I do have to point out though that the idea is pretty good, McAvoy is the highlight of it (putting much more effort than Bruce Willis does, and is given more to do than Samuel L. Jackson), and the fact that M.Night self-funds his film is incredibly admirable. I just wish he spent more time fine-tuning the scripts.