In an alternate version of modern-day Los Angeles, creatures of fantasy coexist amongst humans. However, tensions exist amongst these groups, causing non-human terrorist groups to want to resurrect the Dark Lord who will make them powerful.
I was never technically wrong or right about Bright. I went into the movie thinking it was going to be either excellent or terrible, as at the time it was one of Netflix’s first blockbuster action movies, which could’ve meant a lot of things. Netflix was and still is a new and increasingly popular network/studio, with many of its works having mainstream attention, including Stranger Things, House of Cards, and To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before. There’s a part of me that felt that Bright had the ability to reach this acclaim. But, the other part felt that the film would be terrible as, again, this was one of their first attempts at a big budget action movie. While it didn’t reach the acclaim of Netflix’s best, it didn’t flop as hard as its worst (Hemlock Grove, Tall Girl).
The reason, in my opinion, on why it rose to the slight amount of acclaim that it did is because in this movie Will Smith plays an antihero and does a good job of it. Other than his role in the mixed-received Suicide Squad, Smith hasn’t played a ton of unlikable characters. From The Fresh Prince of Bell-Aire to Men in Black, Smith generally plays happy-go-lucky protagonists who save the day with a good attitude. Basically, he tends to play fictional versions of himself. While in Suicide Squad he plays a DC super villain forced into the hero role, he still manages to make himself likable. In Bright, Smith is pretty much an asshole throughout, and does a good job of it. I’ve never wanted to punch Will Smith in the face before, but after watching Bright that changed.
This film also has some really fresh action sequences, similar to The Old Guard which I reviewed a few weeks ago. This is especially true for the villains, whose scenes looked good even on the iPhone I watched the movie on.
What’s most impressive about this film is the world building. The universe of Bright is essentially a mash-up of a generic fantasy realm and modern day Los Angeles. I was fascinated by how different species are portrayed in this movie, and if you take away the racist undertones you get an intriguingly complex universe, with different species having different lifestyles and characteristics. This is, of course, if you ignore the metaphorical aspect of it.
Unfortunately, despite the film attempting to oppose racism, it was pretty racist. The orcs are clearly a metaphor for black people, yet there is no character that strictly combats the stereotypes that orcs are given. Orcs, like black people, are labelled as stupid. Unfortunately, every single orc in the movie is dumb, including the orc character of Officer Nick Jakoby who is meant to defy stereotypes.
While that is the most serious writing flaw, it’s not the only one. The film has some terrible dialogue, bad enough to make you pause the movie out of pure cringe. Will Smith is wonderful in this film, despite his character being horribly written. Speaking again about Suicide Squad, they share a director. You can tell. Both movies had a good idea but failed to capture the idea through the script, so as a result they created a mediocre film.
Ultimately, this movie wasn’t the success I had hoped for or the failure I had feared. It was just okay.
Bright: A Look Back at one of Netflix’s first Big Budget Movies
Writing - 5/105/10
Storyline - 4/104/10
Acting - 9.5/109.5/10
Music - 7.5/107.5/10
Production - 9.7/109.7/10
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