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Branded Reviews

Page 1 of 17

Super Reviewer

July 21, 2013
A Russian advertising executive (with a British accent) develops the ability to see people's brand loyalty, which materializes as waving blobs on stalks attched to their necks, then decides he must come up with a plan to destroy all advertising. This could have made a decent a satire, but it's way too serious, preachy and hamfisted; a couple of good ideas are killed off by mediocre performances, lazy scriptwriting, and cheap, head-scratching CGI.

Super Reviewer

October 31, 2012
I watched the full movie just to see whether it gets better later or not. Wasted my time.

Super Reviewer

January 13, 2013
Most of people who watch Branded (also known as The Mad Cow and Москва 2017), a Russian and American science fiction film written and directed by Jamie Bradshaw and Aleksandr Dulerayn, will choose to hate it. Why? In the Western world because it attacks the consumerism - their life style, everywhere else - because they will feel disconnected! There is no other option!

As the movie begins, the names of famous visionaries including Joan of Arc, Albert Einstein and Alexander the Great flash on the screen (probably hundred different names) and the caption reads, "All of them saw things others didn't see. All of them changed the world." In this story, starting in the early 1980s, in Soviet Russia, young Misha Galkin is struck by lightning. A woman examines him and, seeing that he is still alive, predicts that his life will not be ordinary. And it wasn't! In a series of documentary-style flashbacks, narrated by the same unseen narrator, we were led through the events to see how Misha used his natural marketing savvy to rise from a poor clerk to a marketing exec. His big break came when he met Bob, an American hired to spread Western brands and businesses in post-Communist Russia...

Did you know that this film was not screened for critics and has received predominantly negative reviews? Go back to my first paragraph - people who live from consumerism would not like it presented like this! This is much deeper movie which tried to even educate the audience... but instead of "thanks" was branded as "convoluted and pretentious... so packed with ideological pretension". Yes, it is ideological, it is silly at moments, far from executed the best possible way, and I will say for one reason: at least one of the directors tried to sit on "two chairs" - criticizing the late stages of the capitalism and trying to make money out of it in that same stage of the capitalism. The team was just not brave enough to carry the mission to the end - and they failed.~

If you don't think that this society is fair, and that politicians are just executives for the more powerful people, believe in 'voices' and love good photography, give it a go. A NO GO for everyone else!
Christopher H

Super Reviewer

July 23, 2012
As much as "Branded" is ambitious and inventive, it's also careless and void of appropriate character development and character reactions. In the surreal world where corporations and brands are materialized into strange animals and blobs, the message is so blatant that you picture the film having its own monster slapping you across the face throughout the course of it. Ed Stoppard plays Misha, an up-and-coming marketing man who gets publicly and professionally burnt when his reality show involving physical make-overs is sabotaged by a conglomerate aiming to make obesity glamorous in order to sell more hamburgers. After losing his girlfriend, played wonderfully by the underutilized Leelee Sobieski, he disappears from the corporate world to herd sheep. It is there that he has a dream, kills a red cow, and discovers the ability to see these strange corporate beasts floating above office buildings. The reasoning behind the film is often glazed over, the human reactions are baseline and never delved into, and the character played by Max Von Sydow is so random, he sticks out like a sore thumb. What eventually kills this film is the strange narration throughout. Often out of place-out of nowhere, a film that relies on this heavy of narration is a sinking ship from the start. That being said, "Branded" is a break on the mold and even though the messaging is clear, the ambitiousness of the directors to delve into a world like this is commendable and has not been done like this before. However, given a bit more character development and attention to detail, this could have been a much more impressive endeavor.
Noah N

Super Reviewer

September 9, 2012
While its premise fairly intriguing, in the long-run 'Branded' (2012) is nothing more than a flick with no common sense. You have been warned...
July 5, 2013
There is not an ounce of continuity. Nothing has to do with anything and the story is so far fetched that seems it was pitched by a 3 year old. What a waste of time!
March 16, 2013
I'm sorry to say that calling this boring movie sci fi is horrendous...I had to stop half way through before I fell asleep. The concept is descent but they way it was executed is atrocious. LeeLee darling I love you, but this was not one you should have done. This movie lasted at the theaters exactly one week, it was hat bad.
January 20, 2013
After being struck by lightning as a kid, Misha (Ed Stoppard) is now an advertising genius living in Moscow, working for executive Bob (Jeffrey Tambor) and dating Bob's niece Abby (Leelee Sobieski). But an evil marketing guru (Max von Sydow) has a plan to revitalize the dying fast food industry that results in Misha losing everything and retreating to a solitary life on a secluded farm.

Years later Abby comes back to him, and Misha has a dream that involves killing a red cow, which will result in him seeing things others cannot. He accomplishes this, and is able to see the "spirits" of brands attached to people, controlling their wants and desires, turning them into puppets. Now he has to use his advertising savvy to destroy the fast food industry that's turning the world fat.

For a film about the evils of advertising, they sure did a number on advertising the film itself. In the previews it seems like it's some sort of monsters waging war against humanity, when in reality it's nothing of the sort. In fact, the advertising "monsters" don't even appear until over an hour into the film. Before they arrive the narrative is spent on Misha and how he was deceived into turning the world into a world of fat people through a botched reality show. It's extremely hard to summarize the film, because it's basically very confusing, but it's still compelling enough to keep you engrossed from beginning to end, if only to see the advertising monsters.
January 15, 2013
What kind of brainwashing movie is this? This movie talks like it is advertising. A guy gets into some kind of ritual stuff and becomes dislluional thinking that companies create creatures of their names and companies' creatures fight each other.
November 3, 2012
The story wasn't bad. I didn't love the execution. Toward the end the guy goes a bit crazy and sees all kinds of weird delusions, which made it interesting. Until then I wasn't really feeling it. A guy tries to break the branding conspiracy and takes down the large companies.
September 8, 2012
Rather than begin this review like normal, by immediately introducing the name of the film and its director, I would like to open with a quote from Cameron Crowe's 2005 flop, Elizabethtown:

"As somebody once said; there's a difference between a failure and a fiasco. A failure is simply the non-presence of success: Any fool can accomplish failure. But a fiasco...A fiasco is a disaster of mythic proportions. A fiasco is a folktale told to others that makes other people feel more alive because it didn't happen to them."

Fiascos are almost legendary in their combination of ambition and ineptitude; gorgeous trainwrecks that are both marvelous and repellent in equal measure. They're endlessly fascinating debacles; infinite research studies in attempting to discover where perfection stumbled into decay, and for what reasons. Was it excessive pretension from the director, countless rewrites from the writers, a prima donna actor demanding their supporting role be expanded, or Hollywood executives demanding the editors make last-second changes to fit the whims of an appalling test audience? Crowe examines the enigmatic subject of the fiasco by almost anthropomorphizing it in his film, but no picture embodies its characteristics more than Jamie Bradshaw's anti-corporate sci-fi allegory Branded: An absolute fiasco by almost every sense of the word.

Even after giving myself a day to recover after viewing the feature, I'm still struggling to successfully comprehend it. Others who have seen the film may have an alternate interpretation of the plot. Mostly taking place in a bizarre alternate version of modern day Moscow, Bradshaw and his co-director Aleksandr Dulerayn attempt to show the audience the cutthroat world of advertising, and how far extremely wealthy companies are willing to go for their products to be successful. However, Branded certainly isn't a corporate thriller, but rather an allegorical mind-bender clearly inspired by The Matrix. The film's main twist is, rather than the humans controlling their brands, it's actually the brands who have complete dominance over mankind; personified by large CGI parasite-like creatures who latch onto human hosts. The conspiracy is that these gigantic monsters freely roam around Moscow, latching onto unsuspecting citizens at will, and only two marketing geniuses know of their existence: A former corporate advertiser turned American spy played by Ed Stoppard, and a wealthy mastermind who gained his marketing powers through divine intervention played by a gloriously hammy Max von Sydow.

While almost immediately it's understood what you're watching will probably be a failure, it takes a few scenes to fully comprehend that Bradshaw and Dulerayn have concocted an almost masterful fiasco; a feature with endless ambition and barely a clue how to fulfill it. With the occasional striking image or memorable scene, it's not hard to imagine an alternate cut in which everything comes together. Also, many of the film's negative aspects can surely be blamed on the distributor Roadside Attractions, such as grating, unnecessary narration, and a ludicrous final twist which reveals the identity of this narrator. It's an undoubtably strange, uncompromising vision these directors have, which is deeply appreciated in a world filled with constant Hollywood dribble. However, due to poor editing, and possible studio interference, Branded slides from an ambitious possible sleeper hit, to an almost incomprehensible collage of compelling imagery and bizarre plot points. It has its moments, but can definitely be considered a fiasco.

Grade: C-
August 11, 2012
Coulda been better. (It's a little wacky.)

That said -- it still offers plenty to chew on *and* it isn't boring -- so that's something.

I particularly liked how it proposes that Communism and Corporatism are more alike than they are different, and that Vladimir Lenin was the creator of modern marketing. That in itself made it worth the time and effort for me.
September 7, 2012
it was kinda weird and kinda doofy, but i thought the story was interesting. i'm sure the other 10 people that see it will hate it.
January 23, 2013
The people who put "Branded" together clearly had a message they wanted to tell but as the movie plays out, it becomes obvious that they had no idea what they were doing or how to convey their point. Watching this movie is akin to talking to a crazed, homeless person ramble about the evils of advertising while a pompous college student who's taken a single class about marketing argues with him. It's a true oddity because it is simultaneously boring and captivating. It's boring because it often makes no sense and drifts around aimlessly but it's also such a colossal train wreck that you can't keep your eyes off of it. This movie is so out-there that you can't give a synopsis without spoiling things because each scene seems barely connected to the previous or the next one. So I guess this is an official SPOILER ALERT! Although, even if I spoil everything that is going to happen there is no way you will actually believe me. But don't take my word for it, read on.

The movie begins with our main character seeing stars come to life and getting hit by a bolt of lightning before the beginning credits even finish this is a symbol of his divine-given gift for marketing. In present-day Russia, Misha (Ed Stoppard) has grown up to become a high-powered advertising executive. An evil council representing the fast food restaurant chains of the world hires him to help promote a new reality TV show. It turns out that in the future, people have become wise to the damaging side-effects of eating unhealthy food and that the big companies are losing a ton of money. The executives join together under the advice of a mysterious figure, which one can only assume is the devil (played by Max von Sydow). He tells them that to bring the profits back into their pockets, they will need to make fat the new fabulous. Misha is put in charge of the TV show, where an overweight girl is going to receive a complete makeover, complete with lyposuction. The evil companies set the first operation for a catastrophic failure and the public turns against skinny body types, just as the villains predicted they would. Misha is so ashamed and guilty over this development that he becomes a hermit, believing his marketing powers to be a curse.

Six years later he gets brought back to civilization by his lover Abby (Leelee Sobieski), who reveals to him that she has fathered his son, but not before he sacrifices a red cow to the full moon in order to enhance his marketing powers and get back at the companies that used him. This is where the movie really gets crazy. When Misha walks back into the city he discovers that he has the ability to literally see the brand-related desires of everyone, including his family. Bizarre, colourful creatures grow on top of people's heads until they desire is satisfied and they float away, combining together to create a giant brand identity. Let me see if I can explain that by giving you an example of how it would work in the real world. So let's say I saw and advertisement to see "Branded" and wanted to see it. A small creature, representing the public image of the film would start growing on me, being fed by my desire to see the film as I get bombarded by advertisements until I go inside the theatre and watch the movie, at which point the bloated creature, now satisfied would float away, combining itself with the already existing, giant central "Branded" entity, which now becomes larger and more powerful.

To combat the fast food industry, Misha sets up a two-pronged advertising captain for a vegetarian restaurant, promoting their nutritious food and generating paranoia among the people by insinuating that ground beef is contaminated. The campaign works so effectively that it soon becomes the norm for all advertising. Now, instead of promoting how good cars are, companies tell you what a lousy idea spending money on diapers is, bullying you into buying their produts... somehow. As Misha sees it, this development manifests itself into the brand of the world actually fighting each other like giant monsters, hacking off each other's limbs and devouring each other. Just as the story becomes exciting, the people of the world decide that enough is enough and they band together to destroy all of the advertising in the world. A giant cow constellation in the sky tells us that the world has changed forever, thanks to Misha!

Ok, so from that synopsis, if you were to rent this movie and sit down to watch it, you would be preparing yourself for an absurdist perhaps artsy movie that's going to be kind of quirky, with some awesome monster sequences towards the end. That's not what you get at the beginning though, you get what of feels like a ridiculous quasi comedy about a guy that works in marketing and advertising. You see over-the-top characters interacting with our protagonist and these really weird, terrible pieces of advertising throughout and you think to yourself "ok, so this has to be some kind of satirical piece". Then you meet the antagonists, the heads of every fast-food corporations of the world, who have become desperate to make more money to the point of selling their souls to Satan. I'll admit I'm not certain the character Joseph Pascal is supposed to be demonic, but it really feels like he is supposed to. He tells them that people's desire to be thin and healthy has ruined their industry and to get back on top, they'll have to re-create the world's idea of beauty. Ok, so what do we get from there? This sounds like something that's completely different from before. A few minutes prior you were seeing a guy get chewed out by his boss because the 5-second ad for the horror movie he made had the wrong kind of scream in it and now we're talking about a global conspiracy? There's evil secret plots going on, weird revelations about our characters, a love plot, some pseudo-intellectual messages about marketing, some of which is true, some of which is pretty questionable (did you know for example that Lenin invented marketing in 1918? If that doesn't sound right, pat yourself on the shoulder) and you also get some comedic hi-jinks too. Then all of a sudden, it changes again. Our character has an existential crisis, we get weird symbolism, pagan rituals and talks about destiny. We're introduced to this crazy dystopian future where fast food almost rules the world and you start getting frustrated because you can't figure out what the movie is trying to do at all and a lot of it makes no sense whatsoever. Plot points get introduced and dropped seemingly at random and it feels like the movie's completely given up on making any sense whatever. There's symbolism all over the place, characters start acting really illogically (if you're seeing things that nobody else can, maybe you should either try acting normal or go see a psychiatrist instead of screaming and destroying everything around you) and you even get giant monsters thrown in on top of all that. Too bad those monsters look pretty terrible, thanks to the lousy CGI effects, something I could have forgiven if the movie was actually decent.

While the movie is certainly never boring because things keep happening and you can never predict it, you eventually just give up and start watching it in a zombie-like trance just to get it over with. The movie feels like it's pieced together from bits of other random movies with a lot of the movie's crucial plot elements delivered by an omnipotent narrator to help fill in the gaps between scenes. "Branded" feels like it drags on forever and in some ways it's such a mess that you have to see it to believe it but sitting through it is also feels like an Herculean task. Overall it's an absolute mess that feels like someone who has only the vaguest idea of what branding and marketing is trying to explain to you what it is, how it works and why it's evil with ham-fisted symbolism and ridiculous plot points. It's never really boring but it's never really coherent either so see it at your own risk. (On Dvd, April 12, 2013)
February 25, 2014
It's rare that there is something new in cinema.

Although, not perfect. Sobieski was given some pretty poor material at times, "Yo don't want to come back to Moscow... ok" and Tambor was a bit unconvincing at times. There was a good central performance from Stoppard and enough imagination to bring this into the memorable film territory. I especially liked the red cow sacrifice scene, a different tak on Costner Field of Dreams.

Interesting and though provoking film, although limited slightly by the narration which distracts from the film.
February 2, 2014
It was slow from the beginning, and never started, dark and irritating film.
I will not recommend this to anyone.
Of course there is the marketing perspektive and alll, but no, this is not the way to show it.
January 2, 2014
Wow. After reading all these negative views, there is definitely truth in this film...but you'll have to watch it to understand. So I guess to become a recognized "critic" by Rotten Tomatoes, you have to be a moron without taste. Seriously, ignore these reviews and just watch the damn thing. It has shades of "Idiocracy", but doesn't try to attempt to rip it off. It definitely had a unique style to it. The acting wasn't brilliant, but it was good enough to make the journey worthwhile.
Suck it, 90% of the RT Critics. Your services are no longer required.
December 19, 2013
i really dont understand a single concept of this film....complete gibberish film....unworthy to watch.......
September 8, 2012
Talk about deceptive marketing. I remember seeing the trailer for this last year, and think this was going to be some mind-bending sci-fi thriller that commented on consumer culture. That wasn't even half-right. While the overarching message of the film is that branding and advertisement are bad for society, it isn't fleshed out enough and is too heavy-handed and simplistic to really make an impact on the viewer. Not only that, but the story is so disjointed and inconsistent in the way it's told that it's like watching two or three movies in one, such that it feels like a mish-mash of ideas rather than a cohesive concept. There are three main elements that one can divide the story into. There's the back story provided for the main character Misha, who is a marketing genius, which explains how he got to where he is at the beginning of the movie. Second, there's a segment of narrative which has Misha promote and produce a television show which is the Russian equivalent of Extreme Makeover. This venture which, unbeknownst to him at the time, is concocted by some shady fast food corporations, ends with it's star in a coma and Misha imprisoned. Shortly thereafter, he is released and he goes into hiding. Prior to, and during, this time he has a romantic relationship with a former employer's niece: yet another plot strand which is inexplicably part of the plot. Anyway, fast-forward six years later. His former love interest, Abby, finds him herding cows on the Russian countryside and one night he has an epiphany. After performing some strange ritual he had a dream about, he is suddenly able to see the world for what it is. Awkwardness ensues as he moves back into the city and proceeds to take on the marketing and advertising which has ruined the world. I won't divulge just exactly what happens, but suffice it to say, it's pretty far out and weird. Anyway, on to the criticism. What this movie had going for it was a cool concept and some potentially biting satire on consumer culture, however it failed to deliver on either of those counts. Still, the movie was interesting enough to keep me watching. Of the many faults this movie has are an unfocused storyline, lack of character development and some pretty ridiculous visual effects in the third act. The movie wants to make out branding/advertising/etc. to be some Communist conspiracy, but in the end with all branding and advertisement outlawed this completely destroys competition (in the real world, at least). How is that not Communist/Socialist? Maybe the filmmakers didn't really think it out clearly. They also didn't do a good job of making the audience care about the protagonist who, when he starts to take on the marketing/corporations ends up becoming (to an extent) what he despises. He even repeats some of the same dialogue, which comes off as too obvious and unoriginal. So, beyond the issues I have with the narrative, the themes are also handled in a very ham-handed way. Overall, it was a satisfactory movie with decent performances, but it tries too hard in the symbolism and themes department.
Nick H.
November 17, 2013
Unless you like being told every 5 minutes that capitalists and Americans are corrupt and greedy don't waste your time with this movie. Also this movie tries to say the Lenon INVENTED marketing in 1914 so go figure.
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