"Branded" aims to have some very pointed and intelligent things to say about marketing and body image but manages nothing that has already covered better by the likes of Dr, Seuss and Bill Hicks. Even then, the movie feels desperately random and all over the place, as it also tries to bring up subjects like fate. So random is it that Max von Sydow feels like he is in a different movie entirely which I am not ruling out by the way. With Ed Stoppard being a complete non-entity in the lead, that leaves the always appealing Leelee Sobieski nowhere to go. At least when the movie finally gets weird, it is actually an imaginatively looking weird.
I wouldn't call this movie bad, it was still enjoyable, but i will say it's a very unfortunate waste of a premise that could have made a truly unforgettable movie.
This story is supposed to be engaging and serious. You're supposed to think about this story and come out going, "Oh, that's messed up." The main topic tackled in this plot is branding (obviously), something we deal with everyday of our lives. It is manipulated in minute, but subversive ways. Branded takes that seriously. It delivers a serious story to a serious topic. I personally found the characters to be engaging and found the plot to be relatable. And when one of the characters starts seeing things in a different . . . Light, well, things get complicated, as they should.
I will go ahead and add that there are two plots here. The first one involves the rise of our main character and a fall from grace. The second involves a resurrection of sorts and him being drawn back into an environment he left far behind. The first story runs through just fine. The second? It has some problems, but it is rather intriguing none-the-less. The ending to this movie is horrible. I think it was forced after the fact. It should have ended in a hard gritty way, possibly with our main character dead. Instead we get a happy go-lucky, unbelievable ending (as in, I didn't buy it). I can't help but think the current ending is because some studio head had them tack it on after all the filming had been done.
The reasons for my positive review:
It DOES reach outside the box and tickle your imagination, and the vast majority of the story is decent to great. For that it gets 4 out of 5 stars. For the fact it tackles branding in a way that most stories just don't, it gets 5 out of 5.
I don't know why everyone else rated it so lowly. Maybe they've gotten used to plots from movies like Transformers and the Phantom Menace. Plots that are riddled with holes, none-sense, and a lack of depth. This isn't one of those. Watch it and 'ad' your voice here.