What I'm Watching: Branded
When I saw trailers for this movie, I knew I had to see it.
They started off with typical marketing, and the tricks behind them, and it looked fun in a very vaguely They Live kinda way. AND THEN THE CORPORATE LOGOS CAME TO LIFE AND BROKE SHIT UP.
Sadly, the movie does not live up to the WTFery of that trailer. But you kinda knew it couldn't, right?
The movie is about Misha, a man with a gift for marketing and selling things to people who don't need them, and convincing people. He eventually realises his powers are being used for nefarious means, and he recedes from society.
Upon his return, he discovers that various marketing brands have taken on a life of their own, are feeding off the attention people give them, and are growing large and fat upon our love. Possibly our souls.
There's something there, and like I said, it WANTS to push a lot of the same buttons as They Live, but it drops the ball so many times. The first third of the movie is almost a disertation on the theories and practices of marketing. Possibly something necessary for the movie, but it could have been handled better. I actually found it a well done version of these facts, but it took WAY too long to get to what I wanted to see.
Sadly, the brand creatures were also a let down. I love the insanity of it still, but they really have no plan. They have no origin. They have no POINT. They're just there, growing, feeding, and burfing around. They're not invaders, they're not monsters, they're just memes given form that no one can see, so they truly have no real bearing on anything. Sure, they drive Misha to take them down, but there's no real clear reason WHY, besides him not liking to see them latched on to everyone. It's never made clear that there is anything malicious about them, either through their intent or just by existing and feeding on humanity.
I was really left scratching my head at what the point of it all was. Marketing is evil seems to be the main thrust of the movie, and I get that, but trying to shoehorn it in with the rest of the stuff...it almost seems too on the nose, with a lot of distracting stuff that doesn't quite belong.
It's a well-made movie, and the acting is actually really freaking good, but the story just...stumbles at every opportunity.
But like I said, there's something here. The idea isn't a bad one. And I will say, I love, LOVE LOVE LOVE, that this is a unique idea. That is blood refreshing to see. Yes, it has some similarities to They Live, but they really are only there on the surface.
On the whole, I'd say I lean more towards liking the movie, despite a lot of flaws and a story that didn't quite pull together completely. Maybe that's because it was partly made by Russians and something is getting lost 'in the translation' as it were. The marketing stuff was quite fascinating, the ideas were big and fun, and wow to see some of the visuals they did. But I just wish the whole was greater than the sum of those parts. And that some of the parts were better.
If you want to see something strange and truly unique, you could do worse than this movie. And I'm sure some people will quite enjoy this. It might even grow on me. The commentary track on the DVD definitely gave some insights and gave me a broader appreciation, if not outright love for the movie.
I appreciate what they were trying to do here, and the uniqueness, and that deserves to be credited, if nothing else.