Netflix released their action-fantasy movie, Bright over the holiday weekend and critics were less than kind. The $90 million blockbuster, directed by David Ayer (Training Day, Suicide Squad), takes itself too seriously and doesn’t give enough back story. Forbes described Will Smith’s performance as “phoning it in, where maybe only about a tenth of his trademark charisma can be felt onscreen.”
In case you don’t know the base premise: Orcs, Elves, Centaurs, Fairies, etc exist in real world Los Angeles. Will Smith is a cop who is paired with the first ever Orc on the police force, played by Joel Edgerton. Everyone is searching for a magic wand – that only people called Brights can handle. These wands can bring back the “Dark Lord”. The movie was clearly written to set up a second (and possibly third) chapter. I just read the Netflix has already green-lit a sequel, but I have a feeling it won’t be written by the same screenwriter. (For reasons other than this movie bombing)
My biggest gribe with Bright, is that it should’ve been a comedy! Edgerton’s Orc, Jakoby, at times felt Drax-like, from Guardians of the Galaxy, in that he did not understand sarcasm – but only at times. Had it been established that Orcs took things quite literally, it would’ve improved scenes. There are also these grand battle scenes with massive gunfire and blood splattering everywhere. Add some ‘Bad Boys’ style commentary and you’ve got Will Smith back in his element.
Additionally, in terms of mythology and backstory, there’s a lack of definition. How is a multicultural police force – The IAB, the police Captain, the Sergeant, the ally at the Sheriff’s department, and Will Smith are all people of color – so racist against Orcs? Are we to believe that even though it seems all of our history also took place, humans have all come together against a common enemy?
Going forward I want two things: 1. Explanations of the general history, fantasy creatures mythology, and dark lord prophecy. 2. And that it become a Buddy Cop movie, not a gritty drama. Because this gritty version where Will Smith calls everyone “Homie”, and is super racist, isn’t working.
See “Bright” for yourself on Netflix. Streaming Now.
— Yael Tygiel