Weekly Review: Bright (2017)

In an alternate reality where humans, orcs, elves and fairies share the same world, two cops on routine night patrol stumble upon something that will change their future.

Bright is a 2017 Netflix original film, directed by David Ayer (Suicide Squad, Fury) and written by Max Landis (Chronicle, American Ultra). It stars Will Smith (Suicide Squad, Bad Boys) and Joel Edgerton (The Gift, Warrior) as Ward and Jakoby, a human and the first orc officer in the LAPD. It also features roles played by Noomi Rapace (Prometheus), Lucy Fry (The Darkness), Édgar Ramirez (Point Break), Andrea Navedo (Jane the Virgin), Margaret Cho (Drop Dead Diva), Jay Hernandez (Suicide Squad), and Kenneth Choi (American Crime Story: The People vs. OJ Simpson).

Screen Shot 2017-12-26 at 8.42.23 PM

Upon seeing the trailer for Bright, I was interested. The idea of a mash up between a buddy cop story and the fantasy world of Lord of the Rings and World of Warcraft seemed just weird enough to be something I’d want to watch. I put it on my list and waited for its release.

As far as I can tell, this movie is being eviscerated in its reviews. I’ve seen a lot of really awful things about it, which I suppose is not necessarily surprising when you consider that its director also was at the helm of the critically panned Suicide Squad. I personally didn’t like Suicide Squad. I thought it was very poorly edited. I didn’t know that Ayer was the director of this one ahead of time though so that didn’t affect my feelings toward Bright in advance.

In any case, the reviews for Bright aren’t great. They’re pretty bad. I’ve seen people say its the worst movie of 2017. That seems a bit much. Bright isn’t a good movie by any means, but I wouldn’t go as far as to say it’s the worst movie of 2017. It certainly had its issues, which I will go into in just a bit, but it kept me decently entertained.

Will Smith does his usual with the material. Joel Edgerton does as well as I would have expected in trying to make his orc character likable under all the make up and prosthetics. The chemistry that the two actors had together was enough to pull me through until the end.

I thought the action sequences were pretty great. It definitely gets intense at times. It doesn’t hold back from blood and explosions. I’m sure there will be a lot of viewers that will enjoy that. I know I was a fan of some of the fight scenes, especially the scenes that included Noomi Rapace’s character.

One of my positives also serves as a negative, so I will use it as a bridge of sorts. I wanted to know more about the world that Bright takes place in. I wanted to know more about how the social hierarchy was formed in the 2000 years since the great war. I wanted to know more about this “dark lord” that was spoken of. I wanted to see more of the elves, more of the orcs, more of the magic elements.

As it stands, Bright sits in a bit of an awkward position. It’s essentially a really gritty fantasy. It follows the path of the gritty cop story and lets the fantasy elements fall to the sidelines, until all of a sudden the fantasy elements jump in at full force with very little explanation and very few rules.

This is where the negative aspect of it all comes into play. I wanted to know more about all of these topics because Bright doesn’t do a good job of explaining the world that the movie takes place in. Most of the world building takes place in an opening title sequence that shows the social climate through extremely awkward and in your face graffiti. It’s just not enough to fully make the world habitable. It’s not enough to make me fully invested.

On a similar note to this, Bright is very in-your-face about its metaphors. I guess you could call it a metaphor. It’s very clearly trying to make points about racism, but it’s not done well. The script has a lot of problems. The dialogue isn’t very good at all. There are plenty of moments where its just plain awkward. I could probably describe a lot of the things about Bright as awkward, to be honest.

There was certainly a lot of potential in the idea of mixing fantasy and a gritty, modern cop film. There was potential, and this potential was not fully met. There were possibilities that were left unexplored. Bright manages to walk down a center line, never fully taking advantage of the possibilities at its finger tips, and this harms it in the long run.

I did enjoy Bright for what it was. I can definitely see why a lot of people didn’t like it. It’s got plenty of problematic moments. It didn’t live up to its potential in the slightest. I’ve heard that it’s already gotten the green light for a sequel, and I can only hope that this sequel learns from the mistakes of the first movie. I can only hope that it does a better job of world building on a second attempt. I’m looking forward to seeing it whenever it is released.

As I mentioned before, it’s not the best movie, but I also wouldn’t deem it as awful as a lot of reviews are saying it is. I had a good time with it. I think the enjoyment that comes with this movie depends entirely on what the viewer is expecting to get in the first place.


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