bright
Released on Netflix on December 22, 2017
Rated TV-MA (Violence, Language, Drug Usage, Brief Nudity)
1 hr. 57 min.
Directed and Produced by David Ayer (Fury, Suicide Squad)
Written by Max Landis (Chronicle, American Ultra)
Cinematography by Roman Vasyanov (Fury, The Wall)
Music by David Sardy (Zombieland, Sabotage)
Edited by Aaron Brock (Volcano, The Scorpion King), Geoffrey O’Brien (Beyond the Summit, Level Up), and Michael Tronick (2 Guns, Straight Outta Compton)
Also Produced by Eric Newman (Dawn of the Dead, Children of Men), Ted Sarandos (Okja, Death Note), and Bryan Unkeless (The Hunger Games; I, Tonya)
Starring Will Smith (Men in Black, Hitch), Joel Edgerton (Warrior, The Gift), Lucy Fry (Mr. Church, 11.22.63), Noomi Rapace (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Prometheus), Edgar Ramirez (Carlos, Gold), Vernoica Ngo (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Sword of Destiny, Star Wars: The Last Jedi), and Jay Hernandez (Hostel, Suicide Squad)

After that big Super Bowl ad, Netflix obviously wanted me to go watch their newest Netflix original, The Cloverfield Paradox. I probably will watch it eventually, purely based on my interest in the movie’s marketing, but with all the talk of how mediocre The Cloverfield Paradox is, I haven’t seen it yet. Instead, I decided to review another mediocre Netflix original, this one having debuted in late December of last year.

☆☆☆☆

Daryl Ward (Smith) is a human cop in a world of humans, orcs, and elves, and he’s about to retire, but first he has to partner up with a hated orc, Nick Jakoby (Edgerton), for a while. What do you know, they run into trouble. Except it involves magic and at least one “chosen one.”

I could go ahead and explain the movie’s whole plot and all that, but, unfortunately, Bright is just too unexceptional to be memorable to me or recommended by me, and the race relations metaphor at its core is far too heavy-handed and obvious for me to appreciate.

I did kind of enjoy the movie, divertingly, while watching it, and it has one funny heavy metal joke. But the story is very predictable, and the visuals and concepts, while cool, are not very original. The direction is decently competent, though it makes a lot of bad choices for the story at hand, and the production is pretty sleek. Yet I found myself forgetting just about everything soon after the credits rolled. Bright lacks that certain “awesomeness factor” it would need to become the next big thing Netflix is obviously hoping for, and it’s just a bit too well made to be enjoyed in a schlocky way. Yes, Netflix does say this is their most viewed Netflix original movie yet, or it was before The Cloverfield Paradox at least, but I highly doubt Bright has the kind of legs needed to turn it into a franchise, as is, or at least was, the plan.

Now, audiences did seem to have some fun with this movie. On Rotten Tomatoes, 86% of audiences gave Bright a positive score. You too might be able to have some fun with Bright, especially if you’re a huge Will Smith fan and want to see some of the decent effects, many of them practical, and the world-building that Bright has to offer. Also, if you ever saw End of Watch or Training Day and thought, “Hmm. This would be awesome if it were set in a Lord of the Rings-style world,” you’ll probably dig Bright. . . although I’ll also want to know how you got that idea. Even then, I don’t think any of that stuff really works either, and its working is hampered by Ayer’s incessant need to make everything he touches “gritty,” like he did with Suicide Squad. In a different, perhaps more flamboyant and adventurous, director’s hands, Bright could have been better, or at least more fun.

☆☆☆☆

This sort of thing just keeps happening to Max Landis’s scripts! I feel bad for the guy, because he does have a lot of crazy and cool ideas.

Better luck next time, man. At least you still have Chronicle and Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency. Maybe you should stick to series. That might be the best place for a guy like you these days.

☆☆☆☆

Netflix took a big risk on this movie, and I commend them for that. Bright reportedly cost ninety million dollars to make, making it, by far, the highest budget Netflix original movie so far. I like to see Netflix going out on a limb and taking chances. Their attitude is bringing, and will continue to bring, them good projects and talent. I want Netflix’s risk to yield reward, and I think it is, but I won’t be revisiting Bright again.

I’m going to give Bright a 50% and a sincere “better luck next time.”

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