Film Review: Brother In The Land by Theo Sugden

In preparation for this article, Year Eight students reimagined Robert Swindells’ novel Brother in the Land as a film…

The latest movie from Director J.J Abrams is the closest you ever want to get to nuclear war. This apocalyptic movie is set in northern England, which makes it even more thrilling because it feels somehow closer to home. Abrams (who directed Star Wars: The Force Awakens) has taken the novel by Robert Swindells and re-imagined it so it is an unforgettable cinematic experience. Starring Asa Butterfield as the everyman hero Danny, Daisy Ridley as his close friend and Andy Serkis as the wise, old Branwell, in this new world, no one is safe.

Life is pretty normal before a nuclear bomb hits a small town called Skipley, along with most other urban centres across the world. With his family falling apart, Danny meets a girl he likes called Kim, who doesn’t seem to want his help. His little brother Ben is making life difficult because Danny has to step up to the role of a parent and make sure he is kept safe. After teaming up with old Branwell, they join a group called Masada, who rebel and tackle the dangers ahead:  ‘Purples’, old school bullies-turned-soldiers, and the immense battle to take Kershaw Farm.

Abrams has deployed outstanding special effects, creepily deserted scenery and intense camera shots. A few scenes in particular are very effective. The scene where Danny’s dad gets taken by the soldiers is gripping. The overhead camera shots, when Danny is sprinting after the monstrous ACP is impressive cinematography as we can see the remains of Skipley over crowding him as he runs. Another key part of the movie is is where the members of Masada are raiding Kershaw Farm. When the vehicles blow up, the sound is muted and we can only hear a quiet buzzing sound. The tension and suspense is electric and the viewer is on the edge of their seat. The attack on Kershaw Farm is definitely one of the best parts of the movie. The echoing sounds of the gunshots increases the tension. Explosions are brutally killing people and the wide camera angle shots show intense battles between the soldiers and Masada.

Despite all the good parts of the film, it does have its downfalls. The opening scene of the film shows Danny hiding away in the pill-box when the bomb goes off and so it denies us the chance to see the most explosive moment of the film; all we see is the cloud and not the action. But having said that, at least this is consistent with Robert Swindells’ ideas from the original book. Another aspect of the movie which is fails to convince is how Danny doesn’t seem to know many people in his town. Although the book and movie show Ben going off and playing with his friends, Danny doesn’t seem to mention anyone from his past life apart from a school teacher and a bully. I would have liked to have seen some of Danny’s friends in the movie so Danny doesn’t feel like he is alone and to reveal more about him from before the nuclear war destroyed his life.

This movie is a great action packed film with phenomenal special effects and some clever direction. It is a great movie to watch with your family and really makes the the viewers feel for the characters. It is effective because things like this could potentially happen and the world could end up in this horrible situation. The moral of this gripping story is to reveal how much trouble the world could get in if we mess with nuclear weapons.

Photo by Stefan Stefancik from Pexels