I do believe in fairies! I do! I DO!!
Bright is directed by David Ayer and stars Will Smith, Joel Edgerton, Noomi Rapace, Lucy Fry, Edgar Ramirez, and Ike Barinholtz. It was released on Netflix on Dec. 22, 2017.
It boggles my mind that a boring and unoriginal piece of work like Bright ended up being one of Netflix's most streamed programs. While I don't think the movie is as bad as others have made it out to be, I still took little to no joy in watching it, knowing those were 118 precious minutes I could have used to watch something else more fun and entertaining. If you showed the trailer of Bright to someone with no knowledge of the film's premise nor any of its negative responses, I'd say their reaction to the trailer is a toss-up: 50-50 that the person either finds the film to be an interesting urban crime fantasy or they find it to be some bizarre mash-up of Bad Boys and Lord of the Rings. A bizarre mash-up of Bad Boys and Lord of the Rings is exactly what Bright is though, so I'm wondering, are the borrowed buddy cop and fantasy ingredients the primary reason why this movie was such a streaming hit? Or was it Will Smith? It's been at least a week since I watched the movie, and I still can't tell.
Taking place in an alternative present in which humans coexist with other fantasy species such as orcs, elves, and fairies, Bright tells the story of LAPD officer Daryl Ward (Smith) and his partner Nick Jakoby (Joel Edgerton), the first ever orc police officer. One night, the two respond to a disturbance, which turns out to be the hideout of a magical group known as the Shield of Light, who intend on resurrecting the "Dark Lord", a mythical creature that has been dead for thousands of years. Ward and Jakoby are able to capture the lone survivor of the disturbance: an elf named Tikka (Lucy Fry). Tikka is revealed to be in possession of a magic wand, which is extremely rare and only capable of being held by special persons known as "Brights". As the wand is incredibly powerful, it is sought after by various others, such as a Hispanic gang leader named Poison (Enrique Murciano) and another elf named Leilah (Noomi Rapace).
I know what you're thinking: orcs, elves, fairies....how is this not directly borrowing from Lord of the Rings? The short answer is that it is borrowing from LOTR, though Bright attempts to justify its borrowing by using fairies, orcs, and elves to create obvious parallels to the way prejudice works in the real world. If executed in the right way, I might be willing to call this refreshing. But the parallels are so shallow - especially the discrimination against Jakoby because he's an orc - there's barely any meat to chew on. Let's not dig too deep into the mere presence of these various fantasy creatures, though. Bright has got way bigger problems than just having a lot of similarities to LOTR.
- Thank goodness for Will Smith's charisma. It's about the only thing that saves Bright from falling into the dark pit that is complete and utter mediocrity. Smith goes about his role like his usual self, and Smith's usual self always makes him effortlessly watchable. His presence also enables the film to maintain a generally upbeat tone, even when a lot of the visuals imply this is something that ought to have come out amidst the murky, sullen superhero films of the early 2000's.
- The main issue with Bright is that it fails to be original or at least somewhat inventive with its fantasy setting. Everything about the film's fantasy components, the creatures, the magic, etc. look like they were carelessly plucked out of someone else's works, not being molded in any way to at least make you think that the film is at least trying to be different. The bizarre conglomerate that is this film's fantasy world is built up as if Bright was just the beginning of some bigger, better story. It's not the kind of franchise-building mindset that ruined the likes of The Amazing Spider-Man 2 or 2017's The Mummy. It's the kind of build-up that simply tries to make you fall in love with everything you see, giving more of a wink-wink about any and all future installments as opposed to making obtrusive efforts towards being the next Marvel Cinematic Universe (cause we've seen so many of those already try and fail, and my gosh, we do not need another one cinematic universe).
- Aside from a lack of originality, Bright is straight-up boring. Will Smith can only do so much before the nonsensical plot, stodgy conversations, and unstylish action take a firm grip of your brain and squeeze until you're half-asleep in you chair/on your couch. There's no concerted effort to make you really care about the characters, and any and all explanations given towards "how stuff works" lacks any kind of intriguing dialogue. These are the kind of films that annoy me the most: no matter how hard you try, you'll soon be wishing for the movie to end so that you can start doing something else more fun and interesting.
Netflix must have had a lot of confidence in Bright; you don't just cast Will Smith in your movie, give it a $90 million budget, and then say a prayer that everything turns out alright in the end. And while the charismatic, always reliable Will Smith is easily the best thing in Bright, there's basically nothing else in the movie worthy of merit: not the unoriginal fantasy setting, not the action, nothing. It's a tedious slog that desperately tries to build itself up as something more awe-inspiring than it actually is, and I seriously want to go and look up any and all statistics I can find about how this movie became one of Netflix's most streamed programs. Netflix and chill? Bright is for the Netflix and snooze crowd.
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