I had no plans to watch and review this movie for a few reasons. First, it’s on Netflix and I don’t review Netflix movies. Second, it’s written by Max Landis, a person I am not the biggest fan seeing he hasn’t written a good movie in 6 years (not to mention his recent #MeToo allegations). Finally, I’m not the biggest fan of Will Smith these days, let’s be honest his career took a major hit after he tried to push his son to main event status and that run ended up worse than Hardcore Holly back in 2004. So I had all the reasons to skip this film but then I saw the Rotten Tomatoes score…a score that critics gave 28% and the audience gave it 87%. This sparked my interest and I realized I had to watch this to see who was in the wrong here. Given it’s been 3 weeks after Star Wars: The Last Jedi and the critics are STILL making excuses for the movie after audiences tore it to shreds, I couldn’t pass up a golden opportunity to trash RT critics or maybe even say the fans are got it wrong this time.
In a world where humans, orcs, and elves live together in spite of ‘species tension’, LAPD police officer Daryl Ward (Will Smith) is partnered with the nation’s first orkish police officer, Nick Jakoby (Joel Edgerton) . Jakoby is hated by humans and orcs for his race and for his place as an officer (I see where this is going). Ward and Jakoby respond to a disturbance at a safe house for a radical group of elves named Shield of Light. It turns out that the dangerous elves are in possession of a magic wand that can resurrect the Dark Lord and enslave the planet. So our heroes must survive the night as the fate of the known universe lies in their hands…kinda of an insane concept right?
Bright is somewhere between a mixed bag and a roller coaster. I’ll give Max Landis credit, Landis definitely knows how to pitch a movie, even if it sounds absolutely ridiculous so I’m not surprised these films get greenlit. The problem is there’s a difference between a pitch and the execution and where Landis tends to fall flat is his execution. There are certain portions of this film I can literally see Landis’s mind go off the rails such as the part where a gang (literal gang) of orcs are in a church about to sacrifice Ward and Jakoby to a what looks like a pit straight to the earth’s core (or Hell, who knows)…It’s moments like this where it feels like what Landis is missing is someone to reel him in. Someone to keep him in check when he goes off his rocker because not all of his ideas are bad but he tends to go just a bit too far and hurts his overall product.
It is not all bad however, Bright is basically a Bad Boys movie with magic. The story is pretty slow to start however once it got going, I found myself really enjoying the world that the film sets up. I do think the racial allegory dragged down much of the film, not because it was annoying (It was) but really it didn’t lead to much in the grand picture of the story. I also think they missed an opportunity to expand on the world of the elves as well.
Will Smith delivers a good performance here but he’s usually reliable when he is not on-screen with his son. His character isn’t as complex as he is used to so there wasn’t much for him to work with but he brings enough of his charm to sell it. Joel Edgerton is solid playing the Ernst Orc cop who trying to prove to both sides that he can be trusted. The rest of the supporting cast is great looking in their roles as the makeup is stellar including Noomi Rapace who is the standout here, sadly I wish we got to see more of her.
The biggest thing that Bright has going for it is that they have established a world with so much potential it is not hard to see why they have already greenlit a sequel (without Landis however). Hopefully, director David Ayer can clean up a lot of the mess when they bring this back for part two. Bright is a flawed movie without question seeing how much of the conflicts in the 3rd act are resolved though plot convenience. This film really split me down the middle because I can see where both sides are coming from. Bright is a pretty fun movie, it’s just not a very consistent one.
OFFICIAL RATING: **
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