Brightburn Blu-Ray Review: Breyer Beware
From the outset, Brightburn presents an intriguing concept: what if an alien boy who crashes in Kansas grew up to be evil? The film’s best asset is the way it explores that superhero mythology through a horror lens. David Yaroveski provides some solid direction while offering a consistent balance between these two genres. However, the film only seems interested in exploring the story on a surface level. For what Brightburn lacks in story or characterization, it makes up for in sheer intensity.
While it’s not particularly scary, Brighburn is creepy, unnerving, and most importantly, violent. Horror fans are sure to be satisfied with the film’s heavy use of old-school practical effects. While the visual effects are acceptable for a movie of this size and scale, the gore effects are certainly a highlight. Conversely, the biggest letdown of the film is the lack of a meaningful and fulfilling third act. Even though there are some decent setups and payoffs throughout the story, the climax lacks the sense of gravitas that it deserves. Ultimately, Brightburn is an exciting but hollow film about the ramifications of raw, unchecked power. It’s well-executed, but there’s nothing to keep viewers from coming back for repeat viewings. For a more in-depth look at Brightburn, you can find out the theatrical review of the film here.
Brightburn is presented on Blu-ray with an impressive 1080p MPEG-4 AVC transfer. Although the home video release of Brightburn tightens the original theatrical aspect ratio of 2.35:1 to a 2.39:1 ratio, the difference will only be distinguishable for eagle-eyed viewers. Shot digitally on the Arri Alexa XT with anamorphic lenses, this video transfer naturally offers a clean and crisp look to the image. As a result, the dynamic range is excellent, while the overall brightness is consistent throughout. Contrast is a particular high point in this transfer, offering deep blacks and bright highlights, especially during the night sequences. As a whole, the image quality and sharpness of this transfer are impressive. Clothing and facial textures are well defined, while skin tones remain consistent throughout the film.
While much of the film was intentionally de-saturated for creative reasons, the colors are reasonably vivid in this transfer. Pinks, purples, yellows, greens, and blues are all prominent enough in their de-saturated state to make a visible impact. Most importantly, the film’s use of deep reds as a consistent color motif is a highlight. Luckily, no compression issues are to be found on this disc, making for a distraction-free viewing experience. Overall, this Blu-ray transfer of Brightburn offers an appealing image. It’s honestly hard to see what the UHD version could add besides some additional color saturation.
The Blu-ray release of Brightburn contains a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track. For most of the film, this track remains relatively quaint. Atmospherics and overall environmental ambiance are a priority early on, while dialogue comes firmly through the front channels. Although the mix is good at layering in the more subtle moments, it comes alive around the midpoint of the story. Many of the film’s more synthetic sounds powerfully assigned through the subwoofer. Because of this, volume calibration will most likely be required to experience the full impact of the mix, especially within the more quiet sequences.
Channel separation is acceptable, even though surround channels aren’t nearly as engaging as they should be. Unfortunately, the tense score by Timothy Williams is perhaps the biggest casualty of this 5.1 track. Williams’ score feels downplayed to a certain degree in the mix. Despite this, clarity and overall immersion are sturdy for such a traditional home video presentation. It’s not a particularly deep or bombastic track, but the sonic finesse on display is impressive. While the Dolby Atmos mix on the 4K version is undoubtedly an overall improvement to the sound quality, this mix is trustworthy nevertheless.
The Special Features
Overall, the supplemental material for Brightburn is a letdown. Much like the film itself, the featurettes on this disc feel rushed and hollow. The informative commentary track is worth checking out, but the other special features don’t add anything of value to this release.
Audio Commentary: costume designer Autumn Steed Yaroveski joins David Yaroveski and Cinematographer Michael Dallatorre in a fun and informative track. Having worked together for over a decade on numerous projects, the trio displays a friendly camaraderie with a mix of amusing small talk and more detailed production information. Naturally, they delve further into the ideas and motivation behind the production and costume design. Additionally, they also discuss the other elements of the production in great detail, including characters, performances & casting, practical effects, location shooting, along with much more.
Nature vs. Nurture (5:05; 1080p): A short featurette that explores the main themes of the film. It has a decent mix of cast and crew interviews with b-roll footage, it focuses mostly on the story and characters.
Hero-Horror! (4:46; 1080p): A quick featurette that digs into how the film blends and often defies genre expectations. Although this focuses on the horror aspects, it also covers casting and performances.
Quick Burns Social Vignettes (2:41; 1080p): A trio of quick vignettes created to promote the movie on social media. Although there are a few good BTS bits here, there’s nothing of real weight in these featurettes.
- Elizabeth Banks
- James Gunn
- David Yaroveski
Previews (1080p): As the title implies, a collection of previews for other Sony releases.
This Blu-ray release of Brightburn feels barebones at best. Despite boasting a 1080p transfer, the image quality is impressive. Similarly, the audio mix is solid for a traditional 5.1 mix. Unfortunately, the lack of in-depth special features badly hurts this release. Although the movie is worth checking out, it’s hard to recommend purchasing this release. As a result, a rental is recommended before blind buying.