Brightburn is the “elseworld” or “bizzaro world” retelling of the iconic Superman origin story if it happened in real life. In that way I was pleased to see a more true-to-life depiction of the teen angst and opposition an adopted and unimaginably strong male would exhibit if given the power. And as we know adolescent boys aren’t big on the responsibility. A moody indestructible pre-teen with a clingy mother in denial of his nature and capacity for evil is the perfect storm in the titular Brightburn, Kansas.
If you’ve seen the trailers you pretty much know the story. You already know the who, what and how. Watching the film will simply spell out when and where. The problem is there is no why. The film felt unfinished. There is no character building or real character arc. There’s no complexity or moral lessons. It’s just “powerful kid turns evil.” And the mechanism for the evil is poorly developed and explained. But surprisingly the gore is actually pretty impressive.
I honestly felt more tension and world immersion from 2019’s The Prodigy and Pet Semetary “rebake” (reboot-remake). Is Brightburn bad? No. It has a 6.5/10 IMDB rating, and 56% Tomatometer and 68% Audience Score on Rotten Tomatoes. But is it good? Nah. It’s a fine way to pass 90 minutes. You won’t get that time back, but you can safely say in the real world Superman would’ve definitely killed some people (even if only by accident) before turning good. If he ever did.