Tag Archives: anthropology

film review. brightburn

MOVIE: Brightburn

YEAR: 2019

DIRECTOR: David Yarovesky

WRITER: Brian Gunn, Mark Gunn

MAIN CAST: Jackson A. Dunn, David Denman, Elizabeth BAnks

RUNNING TIME: 1hr 30min

I try and avoid movie trailers out of fear that they will spoil a film or take something away from it. Most of the time I feel like they show way too much information and as though they somehow force me to develop an opinion about a film before I have even seen it.

Brandon Breyer

Brightburn was one of those times I ended up seeing the trailer and although I wouldn’t necessarily say I developed an opinion about the film I did start thinking up questions about it and I was coming back to Superman every-time.

ooooo, I thought, interesting – my initial reaction to the first few seconds of the trailer. Then as it went on I began to cringe a little, ah I don’t know. I mean, a bad Superman? Is that where they’re going with this? We’ve seen Superman turn bad. Then again, we’ve never seen him start out bad. Ok – they’re either gona do this good or it’s gona be real bad.

I kept seeing odd buzz words around the film though: Horror, Gory, Bad seed, Evil Superhero. I was wondering, how dark is this gona be?

When I thought about a bad Superman, I couldn’t help going back to the 1983 Superman III starring Christopher Reeve. It’s the one where Superman splits into an evil version of himself after being exposed to synthetic kryptonite. He becomes a bit of horny, juvenile alcoholic. Sure some of the stuff he does is a bit bad, but considering the power he wields he doesn’t go that mental. This got me hoping Brightburn wasn’t just about a moody Mama’s boy going through puberty.

Superman and Clark Kent

To be fair, the trailer made it quite clear the little dude in this film was one step ahead of getting wasted, blowing out the Olympic Torch and straightening out the Leaning Tower of Pisa (Superman III). He is definitely a bit of a psycho, but how far was he really going to go? Was he just going to maim people? Or was this angelic looking kid going to just go to full on Killing sprees? I think there’s a few occasions in the DC comics where Superman goes a bit nuts and even starts killing members of the Justice League, so maybe he will go that far?

The Gunn brothers, Mark and Brian, that wrote the screenplay are adamant the film is not based on a ‘bad Superman’, but an already evil alien raised on earth. I don’t read about films until I’ve seen them so most of this I didn’t really pick up until afterward.

However, perhaps I should have observed that statement a little harder while I watched it. I got caught up on this whole Evil Superman parallel, that it was easy to only see the Superman element.

Yes! There’s bunch of references paying homage to Superman from the red cape to the laser beam eyes. Yes! Like the Superman back-story, a baby crash lands on a farm and Mr & Farmer decide to raise the baby as their own, but you can read more about all those on another site.

Forget for a minute that Brightburn had anything to do with Superman at all.

What got my skin crawling is what’s implied about Brandon’s backstory and what he’s going through. After much consideration, I think Brandon is less like Superman – and more like some killer Wasp-Bee alien, and here’s why.

To give that a little more context, I’m going to start from the scene in the school where Brandon talks about bees and wasps.

By the complex answer he gives his teacher when they’re learning about the Bees and the Wasps Brandon appears to be smarter than the average kid. The other children tease Brandon; he is clearly different to them and maybe they all sense that.

I don’t think this scene just makes a point about how smart Brandon is, or how the other kids in the class are bullying him. I think this scene is a big clue about why he landed on Earth and what makes this film stand away from Superman.

I’ll expand on what Brandon talks about to show where I’m coming from. Brandon says about the aggressive nature of wasps and how they don’t have the ability to create hives so they take them over by brute force. True Brood Wasps are insects that infiltrate host nests as larvae (like Brandon as a baby) and are raised by the adult hosts (like Tori and Kyle). Cuckoo Bumblebees do the same, but also release pheromones in order to slip past bee security and kill or subdue the queen of entire colonies and take them over, forcing the host worker-hive to feed their offspring.

I think showing him being bullied is by the other kids at school could also be seen as they are poking the wasp nest – so to speak but I won’t get carried away.

When Brandon wakes up in the middle of the night after a seizure, the hidden space-vessel he came in seems to have sent out psychic messages awakening his powers of strength, flight and speed (not to mention the laser eyes). Later in the film Brandon cracks the psychic code and realises its telling him to TAKE THE WORLD – which he seems to take to like a Cuckcoo Bee takes a colony.

Yeah, from here on in, Brandon starts displaying a whole load of manipulative and twisted behaviour that involves bloodshed and threats – but there’s a fair few indicators that what he’s been going through doesn’t just start after the seizure in bed.

Knowing that despite his innocent appearance, Brandon is not a real human child, Kyle points out the things he’s noticed as they have raised him.

Kyle and Tori discover some magazine clippings which aren’t just teenage boy spank-bank material. Beneath a few pictures of bikini models, there’s pictures and drawings of the anatomy of people. The notebook that he is always writing in is quite tatted and used up and when we see it later in the film, there’s a lot of disturbing content (even the logo he stamps everywhere is like a rudimentary bee or wasp stamp). It all suggests these are things that have been playing on his mind for a while. It’s not quite as simple as a Space-ship talking to him awakening some sudden urge to kill, it seems Brandon has been wondering what people look like from the inside-out, for a lot longer.

Does he want to know our anatomy so he can kill us easily? Does he want to lay eggs in our abdomen? Is he going to eat us when he is done? I mean, when he stuck his finger in the blood on his dying uncles face, I half expected him to lick it off!!

Ok I aren’t clutching at straws here – I can give this Bee-Wasp Alien theory a bit more traction.

Another part of the film that seems to back up the idea of Brandon infiltrating Earth to potentially colonise it like the Cuckoo Bee, is his interest in Caitlyn. Despite the fact that he crushes her hand, in some sort of controlling and manipulative effort he still wants to pursue her sexually. The reason I specifically say sexually, is because the first thing he does after Kyle ‘gives him the talk (about the birds and the bees‘) is stalk her in her bedroom. It’s also more carnal than it is romantic especially because he actually stalks her. Even after he breaks her hand he is still imposing. Has he intended her as his mate?

Ok so enough about that – one of thee main and most definitive reasons I think Brandon is a Wasp Monster… The insect-like hooded-mask he wears. I mean, come on, could you get more symbolic than that? He hovers like a wasp, he moves at speed like a wasp, he’s aggressive and parasitic and imposing – he even wears a wasp mask!!

So if I forget for a minute that the word Superman is even remotely related to this little monster, I become extremely creeped out. I reckon Brandon is more likely from a liege of Super Wasp Aliens that can morph into their hosts, permeate an entire planet and destroy it with no conscience.

If you think I’m totally off the mark then message me or comment. I’d love to hear it.

…anything but Superman related comparisons!

- Spoliers Alert -

film review. rim of the world

MOVIE: Rim of the World

YEAR: 2019

DIRECTOR: McG

WRITER: Zack Stentz

MAIN CHARACTERS: Jack Gore, Miya Cech, Benjamin Flores Jr., Alessio Scalzotto

RUNNING TIME: 1hr 38min

What a treat of a film this turned out to be.

Rim of the World: Dariush, Zhenzhen, Alex, Gabriel

Rim of the World is about four totally different kids that meet at a summer camp. Abandoned by the adults, it’s up to Alex, Dariush, Zhenzhen and Gabriel to save the world when Aliens invade.

If you watch it close enough you will see that is only one part of what this movie has to offer; there are layers, upon layers, upon layers to this film.

It is stuffed to the ‘rim’ of movie references from the last thirty-odd years making it a relatable, fun flick for adults and kids alike. It’s a mix of Sci-Fi, Horror, Adventure and Comedy genres, and it has absolutely no qualms with throwing every stereotype in the book into the mix.

Most recently audiences have been going mad for the likes of Stranger Things and IT for their nostalgic throwback to the Western World’s most favoured Adventure blockbusters of the last few decades. Movies like ET, Goonies and Breakfast Club were the backbone of Generation X. Unlike Stranger things and IT, Rim of the World is set in the present, but with the same sort of adventure format. Generation Z benefits from references of movies like Gladiator and Rush Hour and then more recently the Millennials will be more familiar with Wolverine and John Wick.

Using the countless politically incorrect inferences we have all grown up on to pack a funny punch; filmmakers have cleverly highlighted contentious issues, instead of hiding them beneath the surface as a cheap gag trick. The main clue that this film is openly commenting on politically charged stereotypes or agendas is when Carl & Logan, the Camp Leaders (who are also “the black men on Campus”) are sitting about the campfire talking about Toy Story 3. It’s not to say that Carl & Logan’s interpretation of Toy Story 3 is true (“the ruling class justification for the inferior conditions of the working class”), but it is how the filmmakers say to the audience, “yes, films are meant to talked about; yes, they have hidden meanings and agendas – including this film; and yes, we know what we are doing – that’s the point”.

I won’t list all of the film references in the movie, I am sure there are a tonne of websites that’ve already made it their mission to; besides, spotting them yourself is part of the fun because for many of them it’s just one line of dialogue or a prop or special effect that’s the reference instead of the actual name of the film.

What I think is so important to take away from the film is its coming of age theme and messages.

The guy that wrote the film, Zack, has mentioned in a few interviews about the emotional importance of the films he grew up on in the 80’s and the lessons they taught him and millions of others. They relied a lot on how kids in the audience identified with what the characters are going through. Childhood traumas like bullying, poverty, grief, peer-pressure or some sort of in-house/domestic abuse are usually used as part of the background info in most of the main character arcs. In Rim of the World, it’s all about abandonment. Alex’s Father died traumatically in front of him, Dariush’s Father is going to Jail, Gabriel’s Father leaves when he’s Ten and Zhenzhen is an orphan – Not to mention they’re all left alone by the ‘adult camp leaders’ when the whole movie kicks off.

Generally the plot of the all these Generation X movies features a Headmaster or Evil Grown-up, a Monster, or in this case Alien, which acts as the metaphor for the main characters’ trauma and how they overcome it is always based on how they pull together and ‘Stand By’ each other; it’s the lessons they learn through their friendship that gives them strength, not just in the immediate battle, but also the one they are fighting at home or school.

Rim of the World packs a LOT into an hour and half. I could mention that I thought the special effects were kind of wooden and I could say the introduction of the characters and even some of the interaction and dialogue sometimes felt awkward and unnatural and I don’t think many would disagree. However, the fact that it’s full of hints and clichés from the last forty years makes me thinks all of this part of its purposeful charm.

Overall it does well to be its own unique take on western pop-culture. It brings together the last three generations of audiences in a hilarious, albeit crude and obvious, complement of one-liners, shoddy CGI explosions and an evil looking monster while also facing the crushing trauma of family torment with your best mates at your side.

Nice one Zack.

a brief history of the origin of plays

There’s a clear link between the origin of the play and what’s known as western philosophy. A few philosophers and playwrights developed the principle the techniques and devices in storytelling (including films, books and plays alike) that we use today.


Melpomene (Tragedy) and Thalia (Comedy )

Philosophy on its own, just means the solving of problems – Big problems, with broad subjects like; existence, knowledge, language and reason. It can be applied to all sorts of things.

Why are plays so important?

Being able to read or write was not something just anyone could do a few thousand years ago. Even if people were telling stories, unless they could shout very loudly or write them down, not many people would hear them except through word of mouth which means there was a lot lost in translation.

Luckily for us, some storytellers did end up finding ways to write their stories down. But, it was hard enough finding anyone that could write, so imagine trying to find anyone that could read!

Someone eventually saw a niche in the market though, and figured that those who could read, could read stories out loud to a group of people… and so it began. Plays.

Have a guess where it all started… Did you guess Ancient Greece? Gold star for you!

The first Plays were performed in Athens in the Theatre of Dionysus around 500 BC and they consisted of one actor called the Protagonist who told a story with the help of a Chorus (a group of people). A man called Thespis was apparently the first ever man who went on stage and acted as a character. He even went on Tour after winning one of the first documented theatre competitions. Ha! Imagine that, Thespis on Tour! People loved him and he was a complete celebrity – like Thespis Depp or Brad Thespis.

Theatre of Dionysus

As time went on, the Tyrants and Politicians (same difference really) would buy their people’s favour by building theatres or sponsoring plays and employing playwrights to write for them.

Plays were so popular that within years there were Theatres popping up all over the place. But it didn’t stop at reading out loud, these were exciting times and once the ideas started rolling, they just snowballed.

A Playwright called Aeschylus (aka The Father of Tragedy), decided to change the game. He added a Second Guy to help tell the story. So there were 2 men telling the story and less chorus! The second person became known as the Antagonist. Aeschylus literally introduced the Conflict amongst his Characters. This is where storytelling evolved into something really complex.

We had our first Goodie and Baddie on stage.

So, Aeschylus had a student called Sophocles. You will never guess what he did… OK, you might. Well, he introduced a THIRD GUY!

Sophocles did other great things too but the competition was tough by now and he was overtaken by Euripides.

More of Euripides’ work survived because it was more popular than Aeschylus & Sophocles’. He was all about the representation of traditional mythical heroes as ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances. That’s because us lot in the audience loved to be able to imagine our plain-Jane selves as heroes.

Anyway, then there was Socrates who happened to be a this great mind-blowing philosopher who, in 407, met Plato. Plato abandons his first ambitions of being a playwright and becomes Socrates student and personal biographer.

Then! After ALL that comes along Aristotle. Aristotle begins studies at Plato’s Academy and becomes his student and with that, the first ever Play-Writing Manual was written.

“Tragedy is a form of drama exciting the emotions of pity and fear. Its action should be single and complete, presenting a reversal of fortune, involving persons renowned and of superior attainments, and it should be written in poetry embellished with every kind of artistic expression.” – Poetics, Aristotle 

It was written by Aristotle called and was called Poetics . It was like the beginning of Literary Theory. It talks about the elements found in storytelling and shows where they appear in Plays.

It documents the start of literary theory as we understand it today. It supports the close connection between philosophical thinking applied in plays, stories and films.

The western thinkers

The link between plays and western thinking is clear when you see how closely these men all worked together. The stories that were told and the impact they had were an insight into our psyche at the time and much of it is still relevant today. The Greeks explored the world they lived in and what it meant to be human through the Plays they watched and the reason the rest of us in the western world did the same is because we could identify with each other through them.

Stories go hand in hand with philosophy because they’re our way of thinking about those big subjects – existence, knowledge, language and reason.

There were only really three types of Play at first. Comedy, Tragedy and Satyr. Poetics outlines them all in the introduction however the main subject of the book is Tragedy (there may have been a second book which covered Comedy but it’s thought to have been lost).

The Comedies mainly made fun out of the men in power (and their vanity). The Tragedies were about Love and Loss, pride and abuse of Power. Typically the Protagonist would do something really bad and be arrogant or foolish. But, as he realises what he has done, his world falls apart around him. 

Aeschylus, Sophocles and Euripides are thought of as the Three Great Playwrights of Tragedy. 

The Satyr plays were short skits which played between the acts of Tragedies and they mocked the misfortune of the Tragedies characters. The origins of the play and what you can find from the public interaction with them is how important they were to the culture in Greece and subsequently the rest of the world. 

We may think we have evolved and grown but even now when it comes to most of what happened in all those Plays written in the few hundred years after 600 BC we still find the stories are relatable. Why? Because they are stories about the human condition and they were written by philosophers that shaped our history, way of thinking and perspective.

Thousands of years on we can identify with the stories they left us – so what does that say about the films and stories we see and hear today? How relatable will they be to the future generations?

In order,

Thespis, c. 6th century BCE (exact dates unknown)

Aeschylus, c. 525 BCE – 455 BCE

Sophocles, c. 497 – 406 BCE

Euripides, c. 480 – 406 BCE

Socrates, c. 469 – 399 BCE

Plato, c. 427- 348 BCE

Aristotle 384 – 322 BCE