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Blu-ray Review: "Branded",
This review is from: Branded [Blu-ray] (Blu-ray)
"Branded" is the perfect example of a movie that doesn't deliver what is promised on its packaging. The box art and synopsis leads one to believe they're getting a smart sci-fi alien invasion conspiracy film. What we get in reality is a metaphysical art film delivering heavy-handed social commentary.
After a terrible accident caused by one of his advertising schemes, Misha Galkin moves from the big city of Moscow to the country to get away from Russia's newfound obsession with capitalism. After performing an ancient Red Heifer ritual in which he sacrifices a red cow and bathes in its ashes, he starts seeing bizarre creatures feeding off of people's marketing desires. Misha becomes driven in his mission to destroy the monstrous things and free Moscow and the world from their brand obsessions.
If nothing else, directors Jamie Bradshaw and Aleksandr Dulerayn have successfully crafted a cerebral journey for those who enjoy that sort of thing. Unfortunately, I'm not one of those people. I do respect them for coming up with something different. It still feels like a whole lot of effort just to tell us that we're consumed with commercialism and victims of marketing and branding.
"Branded" might have worked better and felt more threatening had the creatures appeared more realistic. If you didn't know what year the movie was made, you'd think it was from the early 1990s based on the wretched CGI. There's something unsettling about the balloon-like creatures, but you can't shake the feeling you're viewing an eighth grade student's computer art project.
I will award "Branded" a gold star for an eclectic cast who put forth their best efforts for such a strange film. LeeLee Sobieski, Jeffrey Tambor, and Max Von Sydow somehow wade through this esoteric indie flick maintaining straight faces the entire time. How does a bizarre project like this even catch the attention of someone as legendary as Von Sydow?
There's nothing to complain about when it comes to the audio and video transfer for the movie's Blu-ray release. It holds on to its art-house flavor and atmosphere while having beautiful high-definition clarity. The 5.1 surround sound is perfect for spreading out the bizarre sounds of the creatures, musical score, and dialogue.
Bonus material for the Blu-ray edition of "Branded" is sparse. Audio commentary is provided by the writers and directors Jamie Bradshaw and Aleksandr Dulerayn shed more light on the making of and concept behind the movie. The only other special features include a couple of trailers.
Most people who buy or rent this based on how it looks are going to be disappointed. The audience "Branded" was made for will never even give it a chance because it's going to appear to be just another "Independence Day" knock-off to them. It's ironic that a movie about the evils of branding and marketing was advertised so falsely.