Advertising and marketing are very powerful weapons. Together, they have the power to manipulate, instigate and completely ruin lives. If one or an ensemble of individuals wish to change a nation’s mindset and way of thinking, this combination can make it seem easy with enough planning, effort and forethought. And the worse part about this is that we — the people — get so sucked into it that we don’t even see it happening around us.
But one man can.
His name is Misha, an advertiser in Moscow who as a small boy was singled out by an entity higher than our own understanding. He gained the ability to see what such a deadly combination was doing to human society once he came of age, and experienced first-hand all that the plotting and conspiracies could concoct. Once part of the problem, he sought to become part of the solution, and vowed to open the eyes of everyone else to one simple fact:
Brands were no longer being sustained by the people. People were being sustained by the brands.
When I first heard of “Branded,” I was watching a bit of late night television. It had fifteen-second spots during commercial breaks and a cast of unknowns parading the screen. What caught my attention about the movie and made me interested in catching it in theaters was, ironically, the main aspect of the story: the advertising. The way the trailers and voice-overs paraded it, the movie seemed to be a bit like that of The Matrix with a tagline along the lines of “What if only you knew the truth?” Well, that was in fact incorporated in the movie, and it was done very well. However, in actuality, the movie was more like John Carpenter’s “They Live,” in the sense it was a Pull-The-Wool-From-Over-Their-Eyes type of film.
This movie was a breath of fresh air for me, in all honesty. Sitting in the theater with limited knowledge of what I was getting into, only to find out the main basis of the story and see how it escalates throughout definitely helped engross me into this world. And while the CGI wasn’t necessarily the best I’ve seen in a movie (which I’m not complaining about, considering this was an independent movie produced in Russia), the visuals used to represent certain aspects of the film not only helped explain how things worked within the world this movie was established in, but could be taken as a rather ingenious example how the main focus of the story affects real life.
This movie had limited star power, which I think was actually beneficial. As a matter of fact, the only stars I noticed within the move were Jeffrey Tambor and Max von Sydow, who both played their roles as side characters exceptionally well. The other actors, such as Ed Stoppard who played Misha and Leelee Sobieski who played his love interest Abby, definitely had the commitment and the drive in both roles to make the characters believable in my opinion. However, if I had to choose between one of the two as far as who grabbed my attention the most, I would choose Ed in a long-shot. He had a real grasp on Misha’s character regarding what he had to do in order to make him compelling and make you feel like he could get through this ordeal.
All in all, “Branded” was a rather enjoyable experience. What started as sheer curiosity turned into an ending result of complete satisfaction (giggity). On a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being absolutely horrid and 10 being awesome, I’d give this movie a rather moderate score.