It’s the end of 2017 and Bright, Netflix’s 90 million dollar entry into the “blockbuster category” is taking a beating by critics like the LAPD handed out to minorities in the 1990s. Is it warranted? Did the movie pull a proverbial firearm on the proverbial Movie Police or are the Movie Police twirling their batons just because they can? Read on, dear friend, and see what Uncle Manhammer thinks of the latest David Ayer flick.
The premise is interesting… humans, orcs, elves, and fairies (even centaurs and a dragon if you’re keen eyed) co-existing in modern day Los Angeles. Racial tensions are apparent, class differences are present, and Nick Jakoby is the first orc LAPD officer. Daryl Ward is his reluctant partner, and the two are barely struggling to form a working unit after Ward feels Jakoby got him shot. But Ward isn’t a bad cop and won’t bend to departmental pressure to get Jakoby fired. While out on patrol, the duo respond to a call that will ultimately change their relationship and lives forever.
Magic is a highly sought after and regulated commodity in this world, and our heroes stumble on a wand. A magic wand. Incredibly rare and powerful, the two are fighting a battle on all fronts to keep the wand from falling in the wrong hands, be it LAPD, street gangs, or the rogue elves who want to resurrect the Dark Lord after 2000 years.
Bright is a very high concept film with a sometimes questionable execution. The dialogue is clunky, and several times the plot grinds to a halt so we can have another scene of exposition, usually about a plot point the audience has already figured out or has been blatantly stated before. Those action sequences though… they’re really where the piece shines and you can see just about every dollar of the 90 million budget on screen.
The movie wants to be Lord of the Rings and Training Day’s love child… and doesn’t make it. Instead it feels like what I imagine a Jurassic Park and Bad Boys crossover would be. Highly entertaining, sure, but it’s not going to win any Oscars.
I also have to vindicate Max Landis a little bit here. He’s been taking a beating over social media for being credited as an executive producer and the screenwriter. There’s very little of Landis’ dialogue when you compare his original screenplay to the finished product. Will Smith naturally accounts for a lot of this due to his quips, but the script is more along the lines of a police procedural with fantastic elements instead of a live action version of Shadowrun.
The story itself wasn’t immune to the rewrite process, and several plot points were hand-waved away or omitted entirely. The final film even has a scene with LAPD internal affairs that does nothing to build character or advance the plot, but could have established a better connection to an event later in the film that no longer happens.
Bright Final Thoughts
Long story short… it’s not the worst movie I’ve ever seen as some critics would have you believe, and it is an entertaining film. It’s not going to have fans of cop dramas picking up Dragonlance books, nor will D&D players suddenly find a new appreciation for End of Watch, but you can’t go wrong for the cost of a Netflix subscription.
You can find Bright here and it might be worth a try just based on your equipment as it supports both Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos.