Tag Archives: camerawork

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!

reading films: a breakdown

Films are multi-medial. They are a visual and auditory platform.

Because our imagination is stimulated by both sounds and pictures at the same time Films take command of more of our senses than most other Art to create special atmospheres, feelings or to bring out emotions.

The Visual and Auditory techniques used to tell the story are things like sounds, music, lighting, camera angles, and editing. Then films can be interpreted by the literary elements such as plot, setting, characterisation, structure, and theme and the text in the screenplay.

What is important is how all the elements are used together in making a good film and how effortlessly they blend together. 

Below are a few of the main things you to look out for when you’re reading a film.

Plot and structure

Plot is the pattern of events arranged to emphasise links between events

Setting

Setting is where and when the story takes place.

Conflict

Conflict or tension is usually the heart of the film and is related to the main characters.

Characterization

Characterisation is how the characters are described.

Narrator and point of view

The narrator is the person telling the story. Point of view means through whose eyes the story is being told.

Genre

Genre’s are a series of socially agreed conventions within the story (or in this case, the film) developed over time.

Imagery

In films imagery are the elements used to create pictures in our minds. They may include:

Theme’s

Theme’s are the universal ideas that shine through in the film (in other words, what is it about, in general)?

Soundtrack

The soundtrack is not only dialogue and music, it is all the other sounds in a film too.

Use of the camera

A camera shot is based on the camera’s distance from the object. A camera angle is how the camera is tilted while filming.

Lighting

Lighting focuses the audience’s attention on the main character or object in a film & it sets the mood or atmosphere.

Editing

Editing is the way in which a film editor together with the director cuts and assembles the scenes. The way the scenes are joined together creates the rhythm of the motion picture. Scenes can be long and drawn out or short and choppy.

Keep an eye out for my next post about reading films….

reading films: an intro

reading films? what is this girl on about?!!

Yes, I am here to tell you that reading films is a thing.  

Have you ever watched a film and felt puzzled at the end… and then had to Google the meaning? (and then wondered afterwards, who are these people that know this stuff?)

As it happens, they’re people that read films.  It’s not an exclusive skill and I bet you’ve even done it yourself a few times without realising and if you’ve ever spoken to anyone in depth about a film you’ve seen, then you definitely have.

Since over a century ago when films were invented there have been huge changes in what we expect from them. From at first not having any sound, to the soundtrack being one of the most important devices a filmmaker may rely on, to computer generated images opposed to handmade props and puppets. 

Like art and music and poetry and storytelling, film-making has been a fluid evolutionary process as it expands and experiments with new ways to project our interpretations of humanity.

That was a deep I know, it gets worse.  

When we study English in School, we learn how Shakespeare used storytelling devices like Metaphors in Imagery to convey the states or the emotions of the characters. More than that, they would sometimes communicate entire existential crisis’, like mortality!! There are now even studies into how Shakespeare may have been a political rebel, hiding subversive messages in his works.

Films are a great way to learn about people, kids, friendships, relationships, politics, cultures, humanity and even history (I know they’re generally fictitious but sometimes they inspire people to do a bit of research). As the years have passed the dramatic became more realistic, backdrops became Ariel shots and the suspense became more intense. Reading films is about appreciating those changes and asking why they happened. 

It’s not to say that every single film is trying to ask some life changing question or state some intense political agenda… However, many of the most famous (and infamous) films do use different devices and techniques to make some sort of statement, and that goes to show as an audience, that we like watching clever and meaningful film-making.

************ 

There’s a lot of places for Directors to hide clues and messages in plain sight. They reinforce something in the plot, create a theme or develop the characters and their motives but mainly, they show us the story, without telling it.  

Go to my next post reading films: a breakdown for what to look out for next.