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.

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.

Films That Should’ve Been Made In A Different Medium

Now I’m not saying these films shouldn’t have been made. Just it would be nice if they got made in different mediums.

1. The Boat That Rocked

What It Should Have Been: A TV Series.

The two main complaints people had about this film were that it was too long and had a disjointed plot. Both of these problems would’ve been solved if it was a TV series instead of a film. Would it have got the same cast though? I like to think it would’ve done. It’s a mostly British cast and the British attitude seems to be “you’re never too big for TV”. And plus imagine the end; after weeks and weeks with these characters when the boat is sinking at the end it would bring a tear to your eye. The many plots could have an episode each but the underlying plots would be A) Carl trying to find his father. B) The closing of the station. And probably would be a good idea to lose the slightly rapey scene in it, that was majorly uncomfortable to watch and had no place in it.

2. Zombieland

Zombieland

 

What It Should Have Been: A Comic

This film was basically a comic anyway; and it would’ve been nice to see what would’ve become of it if budget wasn’t a factor. Then maybe have a film based on the comic so Jesse Eisenberg can be in a comic book adaptation that doesn’t suck.

3. Unbreakable.

What It Should Have Been: A book.

Some things are more acceptable in books such as films. Many of which are present in this film. It has a great plot and terrific build up but it’s just not suited to cinema. As a book however it would have been fantastic. The trouble is is that it is a really average film if you take away the twist, you have to finish watching it to like it, there’s nothing in it that keeps you watching whilst you are watching it. As such if you get interrupted halfway through it, you’re not likely to come back to it. Alternatively you take this film and condense it into an hour-long TV show, make it the pilot episode of a new series.

4. The Final Destination.

What It Should Have Been: Video Game

The film was, well it was just silly. And not in a good way. I think it would’ve been silly in a good way if the first few films in the series weren’t so serious. After the those this seemed practically childish by comparison. By this point I it would have been smarter to franchise this into other mediums. I mean; picture this film as a video game, not a top-level full price one, but a small downloadable one on xbox live or something: you control death and have to set needlessly complex traps to kill people. The more complex, violent and deadly, the more points. Once you get a certain amount of points you can get upgrades to kill people more efficiently (explosions etc). Actually I want that game now. Or, just have Telltale make it; you play as one of the characters avoiding death. The advantage of that is that it would be REALLY easy to market and gain interest: you release a quick demo online with a random title; you control a teenager investigating the death of his/her friend. Standard Tell-Tale stuff, but at the end of the level; you die via a series of convoluted accidents, and the game reveals it’s a Final Destination one.

 

I also was going to have: Fant4stic should have been; a muffin basket, because anything would have been better than that film. But then I realised if that film was a muffin basket, it would probably poison people.