What if a child from another world crash-landed on Earth, but instead of becoming a hero to mankind, he proved to be something far more sinister? Ralph Potts reviews the Blu-ray release of Brightburn from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.

The Review at a Glance:
(max score: 5 )

Audio/Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )


Studio and Year: Sony Pictures - 2019
MPAA Rating: R
Feature running time: 90 minutes
Genre: Horror/Fantasy

Disc Format: BD-50
Encoding: AVC
Video Aspect: 2.39:1
Resolution: 1080p/24

Audio Format(s): English DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio, French/Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles: English, English SDH, French, Spanish
Starring: Elizabeth Banks, David Denman, Jackson A. Dunn, Matt Jones, Meredith Hagner
Directed by: David Yarovesky
Music by: Tim Williams
Written by: Brian Gunn, Mark Gunn
Region Code: A,B,C

Release Date: August 20, 2019
"Evil Has Found its Superhero"

“What if a child from another world crash-landed on Earth, but instead of becoming a hero to mankind, he proved to be something far more sinister? With Brightburn, the visionary filmmaker of Guardians of the Galaxy and Slither presents a startling, subversive take on a radical new genre: superhero horror.” – Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

My Take:

My son was home for a visit the week Brightburn was released in theaters. I had seen the trailer for it but, hadn’t really given it much thought. He brought it up, mentioning that he thought the concept looked interesting, so, we went to see what it was all about. I would agree that the concept is indeed interesting in that, it combines horror with fantasy, in a story about a superpowered being that crash landed on Earth as a baby and is adopted by childless parents. The difference being, that this superpowered being is an antihero with a dark side.

My initial reaction to Brightburn was somewhat tepid. I liked the plot and the performances, especially by Elizabeth Banks and young Jackson A. Dunn but, felt as though the story needed better fleshing out. While that didn’t change upon viewing it a second time, I did find that I enjoyed the film a bit more. I think knowing where things were headed allowed me to focus more on the idea of Brightburn, Brendan’s dark nature and, the interesting interplay between its genre bending elements. This is where I think the film succeeds. At 90 minutes there simply isn’t enough narrative meat on the bone. I also think that at times it leans just a tad too far into horror story territory, trying to ply the audience with unnecessary and predictable jump scares.

I like the ending, finding that it befits the film’s overall context and tone. The visual style and effects are complimentary as well. Brightburn is a conceptually engaging film that would have benefitted from a deeper script. Be that as it may, I enjoyed it for the sum of its parts rather than its ability to deliver a wholly gratifying film experience.

Replay Value:
Parental Guide: 

The rating is for horror violence/bloody images, and language.

AUDIO/VIDEO - By The Numbers:REFERENCE = 92-100/EXCELLENT = 83-91/GOOD = 74-82/AVERAGE = 65-73/BELOW AVERAGE = under 65

**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**

Audio: 94
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

  • Dynamics: 
  • Low frequency effects: 
  • Surround Sound presentation: 
  • Clarity/Detail: 
  • Dialog Reproduction: 
  • DSU/DTS Neural:X Rating * (non-rated element): NA

Video: 92
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

  • Resolution/Clarity: 
  • Black Level/Shadow Detail: 
  • Color Reproduction: 
  • Fleshtones:
  • Compression: 

Brightburn comes to Blu-ray Disc from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment featuring 1080p AVC encoded video and lossless DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio sound.

This isn’t a particularly bright film but, it manages to strike a good balance between the use of dark and light elements. Certain scenes are bathed in monochromatic/sepia/blue while others appear to use natural lighting and splashes of color. This seems to mate well thematically, and I found the visual contrast interesting. In most regards both light and dark sequences have above average depth with appreciable shadow delineation. Blacks are gradational with noteworthy depth. Dynamic range is notable as brighter elements tend to have punchy highlights with visible detail. Resolution occasionally fluctuates but in general, detail is clearly resolvable with discerning visual perspective that results in pleasing, multi-dimensional high definition video quality.

This 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack is fairly active and features an engaging surround mix that has extended dynamic range that positively renders the elements in the recording. Where appropriate the mix transforms the listening area into a three-dimensional sound field filled via immersive surround activity that mates perfectly with the events unfolding onscreen. Low frequency effects produce deep bass that rumbles with tactile authority. Dialog is reproduced with lucid expression and exacting clarity that produced just the slightest hint of sibilance in the upper registers. This is a well-crafted sound design that made the experience of watching the film more enjoyable.

Bonus Features:
  • • 3 “Quick Burns” Vignettes hosted by Actor Elizabeth Banks, Producer James Gunn & Director David Yarovesky
    • “Hero-Horror!” featurette: It’s not often filmmakers successfully and seamlessly combine both Horror and Superhero into a genre-bending “Hero-Horror” category. Hear from Producer James Gunn and Screenwriters Brian and Mark Gunn as we will learn the methods of their filmmaking style and their dotting of the “i”’s and slashing of the “t”’s storytelling process.
    • “Nature vs. Nurture” featurette: Hear from Actor Jackson A. Dunn, Producer James Gunn, Screenwriters Brian and Mark Gunn and understand the creative process involved in flipping the script of the traditional “Superhero” and diving into what motivates and moves our new Anti-hero, Brandon Breyer.
    • Filmmaker Commentary with Director David Yarovesky, DP Michael Dallatorre, and Costume Designer Autumn Steed
  • DVD
  • Digital Copy
Final Thoughts:

Brightburn is a conceptually engaging and genre bending film that, while not perfectly executed, manages to prove entertaining on several levels. It comes to Blu-ray from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment featuring excellent high definition audio/video and a fair supplemental package that features insights from the cast/crew. Brightburn is worth checking out and deserves a place near the top of your Blu-ray rental queue.
Ralph Potts
AVS Forum Blu-ray Reviews

Reference Review System:
JVC DLA-RS2000 4K Ultra High Definition Front Projector
(Calibrated with Calman 5 & C6-HDR Meter from  Spectracal )
Stewart Filmscreen - Studiotek 130 G3 100” 16x9 Screen
Carada Masquerade Electronic Horizontal Masking System
Marantz AV7704 Audio/Video Processor
Emotiva XPA-7 Gen 3 Seven Channel Amplifier
Emotiva XPA-11 Gen 3 Amplifier
Panasonic DP-UB820 Ultra HD Blu-ray Player
System Controller: Apple iPad/iRule Pro HD Universal Remote Control
Canton "Ergo" and Canton In-Ceiling Series Speakers
SVS Ultra Surrounds (Gloss Finish in Bipolar Configuration)
Dual SVS PC4000 Cylinder Subwoofers
Panamax M5400-PM Power Conditioner/Surge Protector
Wireworld, Better Cables (Silver Serpent) - Audio/Video/Speaker Cabling
AC Infinity Aircom T8 Component Cooling Systems