Movie Review: Netflix's #BrightMovie

STARRING Will Smith, Joel Edgerton, Noomi Rapace
RUN TIME 1hr 57min
Official Channels: Facebook | Twitter
Set in an alternate present-day where humans, orcs, elves and fairies have been co-existing since the beginning of time. Bright is genre-bending action movie that follows two cops from very different backgrounds. Ward (Will Smith) and Jakoby (Joel Edgerton), embark on a route patrol night and encounter a darkness that will ultimately alter the future and their world as they know it.

During the 2017 San Diego Comic-Con, I attended Conan and witnessed the world premier trailer of David Ayers’ sci-fi cop thriller “Bright,” starring Will Smith and Joel Edgerton. It was incredible. 
The cast was brought out and was very excited of what they created. The trailer wowed me, Conan O’Brien and the audience. We all wondered the same things. How can humans and fantasy creatures live together on Earth? How long as this coexistence been around? Is it everywhere on the planet? Did coexistence between mythical beings and humans replace our current society’s struggle with social injustice, prejudice and harassment? We wanted more answers. We needed more answers. Unfortunately, after watching the entire Netflix original movie, I still have these questions. And I think I have a lot more now.  
While the trailer, soundtrack and scenery were impressive, the opportunity to introduce a new universe and explore the emotions of sub-culture dynamics was missed, opting for an overload of characters and story lines. 
“Bright” is based in an alternate timeline, where we coexist with many mythical and magical beings. I’ll get to the “many” part in a few paragraphs. The movie focuses on two LAPD officers, Daryl Ward (Smith) and orc Nick Jacoby (Edgerton), and their wild adventure while patrolling the streets of Los Angeles. While dealing with the harassment Jacoby continues to receive regarding him being an orc AND cop, they answer a call and become aware of a magic wand that is in existence. Before you know it, it’s a race between them and others who are willing to do whatever it takes to get the wand in their possession so they can receive their heart’s desire as a “bright.” 
There were parts of this movie that I really enjoyed. The scenery is very true to the East LA culture and environment. Ayers and cinematographer Roman Vasyanov do a great job of capturing the feel of Los Angeles. You see it in the traffic. You see it in the morning fog. You see it in the graffiti and continual gang activity. It makes the overall location easy to understand and relatable.
The music was also outstanding. With a budget of $90 dollars, they spent some cash on the tunes. The audience was signing along, even doing some bouncing to some songs by Ty Dolla $ign, Future, Meek Mill, Snoop Dogg, Steve Aoki and A$AP Rocky. Once again, it helps connect you to where you need to be to get the surroundings. When there are dramatic scenes, the orchestra build up is phenomenal, with swells and silence to accentuate the moment. 
“Bright” played it safe in a few areas which I really needed more: the acting and scripting. According to my 1999 CD collection, we’re still in the “Willenium,” but I didn’t know we were going to still be getting the same Will Smith since then, too. He plays the family man, with a hint of know-it-all, soft heart and one-liner zingers. I’m fine with that. But I’ve seen this same Will Smith in every movie. I get that if it’s not broke, you don’t have to fix it, but it’s getting quick close to Adam Sandler’s typical character and that’s not a good place. The audience seemed to enjoy his quips, but I wanted a little more with his character. The other characters in the movie seemed to play it safe, too. Edgarton does a good job playing a buddy cop, but it’s so stereotypical, I lost interest pretty quickly with his “Goody Two Shoes” persona. Even after some major events happen in the movie, he seems to increase this persona, which seems off, compared to the direction the movie goes. When it comes to the rest of the cast, everyone did a decent job with their lines. There were just SO many people in this movie, there wasn’t an opportunity to move from that safe spot so I can’t say they had the opportunity to shine or fail. They didn’t have enough screen time, which is a GREAT transition into what I didn’t like about the film.
There was SO much going on that I couldn’t invest any of my emotion or care. If I had to categorize this movie, I’d say it’s a mix of “Bad Boys” and “World of Warcraft,” which on paper sounds very unique and original. To me, though, that thought filled up about 30 minutes of time, with writer Max Landis having to dream up EVERY scenario and creature possible to fill up the other 87 minutes. …and when I mean “EVERY scenario and creature possible,” trust me. Landis goes IN.  
It’s a mythical and magical world, but within the first few minutes, we’re introduced to orcs, fairies, dwarves, elves (the traditional ones and the more millennial Kardashian-friendly ones), centaurs, gangsters and humans. Minutes, not hours. I was still trying to figure out Ward’s family dynamic, but I had to quickly switch to learning about a Magic Task Force and a religion that prophesied the magic wand’s return and how someone can save the world. Then, it appears that this religion has an opposing one that somehow uses the same wand to destroy humanity. It’s a lot going on very quickly when I’m still trying to figure out this new land we’re in.  
We are then quickly introduced to Tikka, an elf has a magic wand, but then there are cops on the scene, so we can’t invest time in her. Then, we immediately are introduced to Leilah, who is the owner of this wand, who happens to be evil and wants to bring back the Dark Lord, but sent another elf to get it for her. Wait, what? Where did this come from? How often does this happen with the Dark Lord? Is Leilah the only evil elf? Why aren’t there other wands on tap? Why isn’t the Magic Task Force on the case? How did Tikka get here? 
Then, we get gangsters, a sheriff, orcs, fairies and a LOT of dues ex machina. Ward and Jacoby are thrown in SO many scenarios that it gets tiring seeing them put into yet another situation with a cast that keeps growing by the second. Without spoiling too much, the outcomes of these scenarios became so predictable that the audience was groaning and laughing. We’re introduced to alibis that save characters, greedy decisions that end lives of some (or was it wand control?), a few more religions and prophecies and something that appears to be the Tree of Life from “Avatar.” It gets really convoluted.  
Here in lies the problem with “Bright:” there are so many things going on that there’s no way to really care about anything going on. Landis had such a powerful premise of focusing on the dynamics of sub-culture. We start to see a focus on the harassment of Jacoby being an orc and a cop. We start thinking, “Is he going to break? What is his intention? Why does society hate orcs so much? What’s Jacoby’s life like?” Instead of focusing on some emotional foundation to introduce the world to a new universe, we’re taken on a roller coaster that was way too fast with no real destination. A story revolving around the harassment Jacoby received and the way other orcs treated him could have served a really good premise and still held the power of the film. If this was broken into a series, it would’ve worked great. As a movie, it did not work well with so many elements. If we’re being introduced to a future franchise, give it a slow burn. That works just as fine and allows the audience to want to have more.
Overall, the film had some good shots, some safe zones, but did not deliver when it comes to the story. It did way too much, way too quickly. A sequel was approved earlier in the month, so I hope that we won’t be bitten by the Will2K bug a second time and that there is a little steadier pacing next time.

Overall rating: C-


  1. I enjoyed the movie, but I felt that it was trying a little too hard, but that they didn't do very good research in some aspects. The characters were interesting, though I am a little on the fence about Will Smith's character, but some of the references didn't make a lot of sense. Mainly the Shrek references. I don't think that movie would exist in a world where Orcs and Ogres are real.
    I really like the setting and the premise, but there were just a couple of small things that made it so I couldn't love the movie.

  2. I watched this last night and it was okay but not great by any means. Their was soooo much stuff going on. I had more questions after I watched then before. I loved the whole idea of the movie but think they could have done a limited edition series with the amount of action going on. Like you I felt that they had taken all the Will Smith movies I've seen and loved and pulled out quip after quip and fed them back to us by a slightly grayer version of Smith.


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