'Branded' Review By John M

What a wonderfully strange and fun movie.
  • Story
  • Acting
  • Directing
  • Visuals
Up until about a month and a half ago I had never heard of Branded like I did with The Hunger Games. I had never heard of The Hunger Games or the novel it was based off of until I saw the trailer about two months before its release. It was the same with Branded. I downloaded a torrent with a bunch of movie trailers that at Branded in it. The trailer was great that looked like it was film with a message blended in with drama and fantasy. I'm going to go off topic here for a second, but don't people know the difference between fantasy and Sci-fi. Every site and paper classifies this under the Sci-fi category. The trailer and film has no Sci-fi elements. Sci-fi is based on actual science and what could be possible in the near and distant future. Fantasy is well dragons, elves, demons, things and ideas that don't exist or haven't been proven to exist in the natural world. People should know the difference. Now back to Branded. Another thing liked about the trailer was it looked unique. Hollywood loves to recycle the same films over and over again in sequels or movies with a different name. Don't get me wrong I enjoy many of those films, but it does get tiring of basically seeing the same movie over and over again. That's why I like seeing unique films when studios, writers and directors take chances. Does it always work no, but at least they tried to do something different and that is what Branded is. The films message has been done before, but not in this clever and unique way. After seeing Branded I can say is a really good film, but not perfect.

The story follows a Russian Misha Galkin (Ed Stoppard) as he journey's to his destiny of changing the world that an old woman told him he would after he survived getting struck by lightning as a child. Growing up he gets into advertising, which leads to the major theme of the movie in that they bash modern day consumerism and capitalism, and even human beings. After his fall from grace Misha the once great marketing and advertising genius fights to bring down the industry he helped build. They show how manipulative companies are, and how they try and do brainwash us, or how we let them. It may not stop you from buying a product, but it will make you question where our society is going if you don't already. The film does it in an interesting and humorous making a lot of good points about the topic and marketing in general. The first half of the film is a straight drama and romance film, but about half way through is truly where the fantasy elements arrive when you see creatures popping representing brands and influencing people to by their products. The film is a romance wrapped in a drama, wrapped in fantasy and finally stuffed into a film with a message, and that is what ultimately hurts the film in that the writers and directors tried to do too much. Now I didn't have a real problem with the following the film, but I can understand that others won't. The romance between Misha and Abby Gibbons (Leelee Sobieski) is a bright spot in the film. As the two come together as they work on a reality show not realizing they're being manipulated just like everyone else. Abby loves and believes in Misha till the end. The comedy and fantasy elements were well done. Instead of forcing down their message like some directors do they writers and director used comedy and fantasy to help illustrate their points without talking down to you. The drama was pretty good. The only real problem I had was the side plot of Bob Gibbons (Jeffrey Tambor). He's some sort of US spy using marketing as a cover. The film makers I think only used this thread to show how intelligent Misha was. It served its purpose, but it could have been better. Then there was the narration and flashbacks, which I think worked really well answering questions for viewers. As you can tell the film has a lot of elements in it, and it ended up hurting the film.

The cast was made up of majority of Russian and European actors. It was filmed in Russia and Bulgaria. The acting was good, but limited because it focused almost completely on Misah and Abby. Leelee Sobieski did a good job as Abby, and had great chemistry with Ed Stoppard. I must also she has aged well. I remember her in Deep Impact when she was I think 14 or 15 years old. She's beautiful and can act. Jeffrey Tambor from Arrested Development and Hellboy did a good job as Bob and his limited role. As I said before I'm a fan of Max Von Sydow. I've been a fan of his since I saw Needful Things, Citizen X and Minority Report among others. He's a really good actor, but sadly he was really underused in Branded playing "The Marketing Guru". The writer and director should have given an actor of his caliber a more screen time or a better written character. Besides these for there are no other real actors really to mention as they didn't leave an impression.

I don't usually mention the cinematography in my reviews, and maybe I will start doing that more, any way the filmed in just two places Russia and Bulgaria. I've always wanted to visit St. Petersburg and Moscow, but I don't know when or if that will ever happen. The directors Jamie Bradshaw and Aleksandr Dulerayn did a great job show casing the two countries and the city of Moscow. Speaking of the directors they did a good job with the skills they had. I think they are both relatively new director's and have done only doc*mentary films, though I could be wrong. That's right I forgot to talk about the special effects that was used for the fantasy elements. They were done really well since I think with the lack of big named actors they had more money on the effects watching creatures representing such companies as Apple, Microsoft, McDonald's, Microsoft and others fighting and killing each other. Of course they didn't use the actual names.

Branded is a good film that uses message that has been done before, but in a unique, interesting, weird and fun away. Overall the film has a really good story, but with too many elements in it that will make it hard for some people to follow. The acting is pretty good, but some actors were underused. The romance was great and fit well with the main story. The cinematography is beautiful and the effects are really well done. I enjoyed this film and recommend it to everyone, but I also know that Branded won't be for everyone, and I'm sure some won't like it. Still you should support unique films like this, if you don't studios won't even bother trying after all then all they have to do is spew out endless remakes, sequels and copies of other successful films.

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Comments (44)


    @XxNickTheFilmCriticXx Correct practice makes perfect! While you may be able to proof read your own, you are not your audience... If you you let someone else do it, you will have a better understanding of how it's going to come across to others

    3 years agoby @mcleve02Flag

  2. Nicholaus XX

    @mcleve02 -- I have no issue proofreading and such, I'm just saying I'd like to review Breaking Bad to the best of my abilities, and I don't think I'm at that point, yet. I'm not a bad reviewer, I'm just not great at it.

    @john-m -- We'll go easy on it, then.

    3 years agoby @XxNickTheFilmCriticXxFlag


    @john-m haha yeah... that happens to me all day with mine... except my email is set up on my iPhone, so its going off inside my pocket all day!

    3 years agoby @mcleve02Flag

  4. John M

    @mcleve02: I don't mind at all, except it's taking up a lot of e-mail space since I have e-mail alerts for my reviews. Still it's not a problem.

    3 years agoby @john-mFlag


    @XxNickTheFilmCriticXx Yeah, I'm sure you will be fine! Just write it out by hand and find someone to proof read it! haha

    3 years agoby @mcleve02Flag

  6. Nicholaus XX

    @mcleve02 --- Definitely. I'm relying on AMC to make that happen.

    3 years agoby @XxNickTheFilmCriticXxFlag

  7. Nicholaus XX

    @mcleve02 -- I'll start watching that show from the beginning in the future. Yeah, when Breaking Bad ends, I may do the same. Hopefully, I'll have enough writing skills and expanded vocabulary to write up a worthy review.

    3 years agoby @XxNickTheFilmCriticXxFlag


    @XxNickTheFilmCriticXx Yeah... hopefully people will see how great a show it was and seek making them like that... HIMYM is ending too... That is a show is much better if you have had the experiences of the characters before in your life... I need to do a television shows review... I haven't done one yet... I may start with Breaking Bad

    3 years agoby @mcleve02Flag

  9. Nicholaus XX

    @mcleve02 -- Yeah, 8 more episodes, and one of the greatest shows of all-time has reached it's conclusion. After that finale, things might get even more ugly.

    3 years agoby @XxNickTheFilmCriticXxFlag


    @XxNickTheFilmCriticXx See Breaking Bad and How I Met Your Mother are really 2 shows out there I can stand to watch... Which is why I am sad Breaking Bad is done...

    3 years agoby @mcleve02Flag

  11. Nicholaus XX

    @mcleve02 -- Sorry I had to be the carrier of bad news, man. Indeed, indeed. NBC has cancelled how many shows this year? TruTV, MTV, and CW(among others), don't have to worry about cancelling anything, seeing as all their shows suck(but TruTV has some guilty pleasures), and cater to teens, and older women(CW and MTV).

    3 years agoby @XxNickTheFilmCriticXxFlag


    @XxNickTheFilmCriticXx sh*t... Well that ruins my day... I am sure something else stupid is just sitting back waiting to get it's time on TV!

    3 years agoby @mcleve02Flag

  13. Nicholaus XX

    @mcleve02 -- That's already been done, actually.

    3 years agoby @XxNickTheFilmCriticXxFlag


    @john-m I hope you don't mind we have borrowed your awesome review!!! ;)

    3 years agoby @mcleve02Flag


    @XxNickTheFilmCriticXx Yeah like one or two of them might get their own spin off or something!

    3 years agoby @mcleve02Flag

  16. Nicholaus XX

    @mcleve02 -- That sounds too good to be true, sadly. We might get something extremely similar to take it's place.

    3 years agoby @XxNickTheFilmCriticXxFlag


    @XxNickTheFilmCriticXx Yeah I smiled big time when I heard that was getting canceled! haha

    3 years agoby @mcleve02Flag


    @XxNickTheFilmCriticXx Oh, Jersey Shore!!! ;)

    3 years agoby @mcleve02Flag

  19. Nicholaus XX

    @mcleve02 -- That is a reality show, but it's not the primary type. You know, the drama-intoxicated shows with terrible production values, and cheap dialogue gags.

    3 years agoby @XxNickTheFilmCriticXxFlag


    @XxNickTheFilmCriticXx Hate all reality shows... except for Mythbusters.... if you count that as one... that show was really good...

    3 years agoby @mcleve02Flag

  21. Nicholaus XX

    @mcleve02 -- Again, I strongly agree. Oh, and don't get me started about reality shows. It now pays to be a (tanned) slut/douche bag. Oh, and to get knocked up at 16.

    3 years agoby @XxNickTheFilmCriticXxFlag


    @XxNickTheFilmCriticXx Kids shows today make me the angriest as well... They help to uneducate kids anymore... they talk in slangs and there are no motives behind them... TV period is frustrating anymore...

    3 years agoby @mcleve02Flag

  23. Nicholaus XX

    @mcleve02 -- I strongly agree. Some of the time you'll find one, and watch it deteriorate in the second or third season(Skins UK, Misfits, respectively).

    3 years agoby @XxNickTheFilmCriticXxFlag


    @XxNickTheFilmCriticXx Agreed... Not very many quality shows out there anymore...

    3 years agoby @mcleve02Flag

  25. Nicholaus XX

    @mcleve02 -- Indeed, it does. The same goes for television shows.

    3 years agoby @XxNickTheFilmCriticXxFlag


    @XxNickTheFilmCriticXx Yeah, I definitely agree with that.. I just think it's a shame... It leaves a lot of other really good films in the dust

    3 years agoby @mcleve02Flag

  27. Nicholaus XX

    @mcleve02 --

    If John saw some exorcist movie, and couldn't sleep that night. He'll see another exorcist movie, to get the same experience. And if that exorcist movie supplies, John is going to go to every single exorcise movie released. If Ashley got(excuse the tasteless comment) moist while watching one of the Twilight's, you can be damn well sure she's going to see all of them, with repeated viewings, in the mix.

    You grab the public's attention, and play on their emotions, and you're going to be a rich motherf.....

    3 years agoby @XxNickTheFilmCriticXxFlag

  28. Nicholaus XX

    @mcleve02 -- That's because that's what a majority of people are into. They'll pay to see the same crap over, and over, and over, and over again. People love repetition, and you witness that every single day. You have to take their emotions towards certain things, and brand them into your product.

    3 years agoby @XxNickTheFilmCriticXxFlag


    @john-m It's a shame because there are several times these types of films have a much richer story to be told and they don't get the attention they deserve... but crapfests like Twilight or The Possession do...

    3 years agoby @mcleve02Flag