reflection

Bright is a new big-budget film from Netflix starring Will Smith and Joel Edgerton in a world where our favorite fantasy creatures (Orcs, Elves, etc.) live with us. It never hits incredible highs and only tip-toes across some near disastrous lows to end up as a competent action movie in the same vein as any Underworld or similar genre action film.
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BRIGHT From Netflix Tries To Shine A Light On Something Interesting But Mostly Fails

Netflix continues its push into the movie industry with Bright, a big-budget, high-concept tentpole-type film that falls on its face, is trampled by an army of orcs, impaled by a shower of arrows, and gutted by jagged axes. And then, it blows up.

From the very first seconds, there is no doubt, David Ayers,
the most interesting man in Hollywood, made this.

Bright is the story of Daryl Ward (Will Smith), a cop who works with Nick Jakoby (Edgerton) in a world where all our favorite fantasy characters like elves, fairies, centaurs and the like are alive alongside us. Ward is a human and Jakoby is an Orc. And in this world, magic is mostly gone, but now powerful forces are looking to bring a great evil back, and only a magic wand can save the day.

From the very first seconds, there is no doubt, David Ayers, the most interesting man in Hollywood, made this. The opening credits are a bit of a wink to the Suicide Squad’s stylized title sequence. And so, for those who didn’t like last year’s DCEU villains-turned-hero film, this might already get things started on the wrong foot.

Ayer dishes up some inconsistent directing. During one escape sequence, we roll back through an alley with Will Smith as enemies pop up from either side in a definite nod to video games like House of the Dead or Time Crisis. But Smith is dead center of the screen the entire time and covers most of what we see. It doesn’t create any visual impact when the most impactful part of the scene is blocked from view.

At the 40-minute mark, Bright does get interesting when
it becomes a war to gain possession of the magic wand.

The first 40 minutes of Bright lazily tries to establish this new world. Fantasy creatures have lived with us through all of history, yet, the world is the same. No signs of Orc hip-hop or Elven beauty supplies. Will Smith kills a fairy (it’s in the trailer) and no one seems to care. I’d imagine, that thousands of years living alongside a sentient creature like a fairy might provide some empathy. But no, it’s funny to kill the pesky fairy, so it happens.

Lazy world-building aside, Bright meanders through many of the typical buddy cop tropes. Ward and Jakoby don’t get along. And Ward just wants to retire to be with his family because, essentially, “He’s too old for this shit.” The film also tries to balance out humor with the drama but ends in the same lazy one-liners as any other Marvel or Michael Bay movie.

At the 40-minute mark, Bright does get interesting when it becomes a war to gain possession of the magic wand. Cops versus cops versus gangsters make the stakes a lot more engaging. And really could’ve been the thrust of the entire movie that could open the door to everything else. But those first 40 minutes are tough to sit through. And, like many modern-day movies; Bright is too long. Hack twenty minutes off and do a bit of tweaking, and there’s a brilliant spark of a good genre film that could lead to more.

As an action movie, Bright is no better or worse than Underworld,
Blade, or any number of other sci-fi/fantasy films of the ilk.

Will Smith is, well, Will Smith in his official action character mode and so, there’s nothing much to report on that end. Joel Edgerton’s Jakoby is far more interesting a character. Edgerton does his best to overcome the awful design choice for the orcs which makes them look cheap. It’s as if the makeup department only had mud and paint to work with.

Making social commentary through the use of fantasy characters is a valiant idea. But in Bright, it’s only a passing line here and there that otherwise offers little to the story. And perhaps the argument could be made that it unfocuses Bright, turning it from a reasonably competent action movie into an unfortunate, borderline parody.

As an action movie, Bright is no better or worse than Underworld, Blade, or any number of other sci-fi/fantasy films of the ilk. It’s not high praise to be sure, but it’s not damning hatred either. Critics seem to want to tear this movie apart. But Bright isn’t “embarrassing” or a “disaster.” It’s better than War Machine which was a real, hyper-expensive embarrassment of a film for Netflix.

Sure, Bright is not groundbreaking and likely won’t give rise to the Bright Cinematic Universe. However, it’s a decent effort at offering something a little different in the genre, even if it ultimately falls short of being whatever grand spectacle the creators might have wanted it to be.

Ruben Diaz
Ruben Diaz
Writer, film-fanatic, geek, gamer, info junkie & consummate Devil's advocate who has been fascinated by Earth since 1976. Classically trained in the ways of the future.
BRIGHT From Netflix Tries To Shine A Light On Something Interesting But Mostly FailsBright is a new big-budget film from Netflix starring Will Smith and Joel Edgerton in a world where our favorite fantasy creatures (Orcs, Elves, etc.) live with us. It never hits incredible highs and only tip-toes across some near disastrous lows to end up as a competent action movie in the same vein as any Underworld or similar genre action film.