The new Netflix Original movie Bright is the streaming giant’s attempt to make a successful film with a big budget. And you can definitely see the 90,000,000$ in the movie, but it has a lot of flaws that can’t be fixed just by throwing money at it. So why isn’t it more than just enjoyable?
Disclaimer: This is not a review in the sense that I will give a comprehensive and objective opinion, but rather what I felt about particular decisions by the filmmakers, written in a stream of consciousness style. There will be SPOILERS. I also apologize for my English, it needs improvement and I always like to hear how I can improve my writing.
Bright is about two cops, Deryl Ward (Will Smith) and his orc-partner Nick Jakoby (Joel Edgerton), who live in an alternative universe where humans share a world with elves, orcs, fairies, and dragons. Nick is the only orc in the LAPD and no one wants him there. The orcs are a heavily oppressed species and live in ghettos while the elves rule everything from their clean downtown skyscrapers. The world is the best thing about the whole movie. Seeing how dragons fly over the city makes you wonder about how awesome a series with the same setting would be and what opportunities could arise from the complex issue of class and race in this strange, yet familiar, world. Bright instead chooses to tell a standard cop story with well-known story beats and action setpieces.
Being cliche is by far the biggest issue I had with the movie and it is certainly nothing I expected from a film written by Max Landis. It is not that it is badly executed, but rather that nothing feels fresh and you can even see Will Smith’s one-liners coming. The familiarity combined with the boring first 40 minutes makes it really hard to get into the movie especially since there is just so much unnecessary stuff. For example, the fact that Ward has a family leads absolutely nowhere and only adds running time. Similarly, the story of Jakoby allegedly letting the orc who shot Ward get away runs throughout the movie but does not pay off in any meaningful way. This would be fine if it added additional conflict and gave the character relationship between Ward and Jakoby issues to trust each other and it does, for the first 40 minutes that is. When they are about to get shot by their colleagues over a magic wand Jakoby explains himself, Ward believes him and the story moves on. The issue of trust is mentioned once at the end but other than through speech it isn’t visible.The biggest motif in the story is the one about race relations. Although I felt that the movie didn’t say much new I liked how it portrayed the issue.
The execution of the story might not be that good, but at least the art design is quite nice. the sets in and around LA look great and the orcs look good. The soundtrack is awesome and I’ll probably listen to it for the next weeks.
There is not much more to say about Bright since it is exceptionally unoffensive and overreliant on cliches. Although it’s not a particularly good film, I really want there to be a sequel or a series to see more of the fantastic world. I will probably forget about this film in the meantime but will listen to the soundtrack instead.