Reel Geek Review: Bright

There seems to exist a real divide, more so than ever these days, between films that proper film critics love, and what people who go to and watch movies love.    A prime example of that is Bright director David Ayer’s last film, Suicide Squad.  Critics just couldn’t get behind the music video like atmosphere of the film, the constant song changes and just overall shallow plot of the movie, but audiences loved it.  Not overwhelmingly so, because it was overall a shallow movie admittedly, but people still went to go see it.

I think, and hope, that the same happens for his latest movie, Bright, that took an innovative way at releasing straight to Netflix last Friday.  Critics have desponded the movie as being boring, not fun, and a heavy handed attempt at racial commentary.    I will acquiesce to them on the racial commentary, some of the metaphors used in the film are a bit much and don’t really do anything to advance the story, but I found the movie to be a rather fun movie.

In case you have no idea what I’m talking about, let me set the movie up for you.  Bright is a modern day, urban fantasy film, set in a world where fantastic beasts and creatures such as Elves, Orcs, Dragons, and Magic exists.   A world in which Lord of the Rings could have been watched as a historical movie.  That type of world is their prehistory.   We’re now in 2017 in that world, and it’s evolved very much like our own, except that Elves are the elite class, the rich, wealthy, and permanently beautiful.  Orcs are treated as second class citizens due to events that happened 2000 years ago, when they chose to side with The Dark Lord who nearly took over the world.

Will Smith plays LAPD police officer Daryl Ward, coming back on the job after being shot by an Orc.  His partner, Nick Jakoby (Joel Edgerton-Warrior), is an Orc as well, as the department’s “Diversity Hire” (which I’m assuming is a real thing, have only heard of something like this in the movie Zootopia, which was also an attempt at racial commentary, which handled that stuff way better than here I must say).   Needless to say, Ward merely tolerates Jakoby’s presence mildly.

The two of them uncover a case where they find an Elvish girl that they need to protect, as she is in possession of a magic wand, a rare item of magical power.  It’s a “nuclear missile that grants wishes” as Jakoby describes the wand.    In this world one must be a “Bright” to handle wands, all others who try to touch them merely explode upon contact.

This discovery has Jakoby and Ward on the run from everybody, the cops, the gangs, and a group of Elvish extremists called The Inferni, led by Leilah (Noomi Rapace- Prometheus)  And the film begins a frantic chase for the latter half of the film as everyone is out to get them.

I’d say I liked about 90% of this film.  As a fantasy fan I fell right in line with the conceit of this movie, that Orcs and Elves and all that fantasy stuff exists here, I’m sold.   The main thing that sold me on the movie was Joel Edgerton as Jakoby.   This may be my favorite role of his really.  He brings so much humor and heart to the film, and his chemistry with Will Smith as partners made the movie for me.

Will Smith is Will Smithing it up here for sure, and I mean that in the best way possible.  He doesn’t bring anything new to this movie, but that’s not what this movie calls for.  It’s not meant to be that kind of deep movie, like David Ayer used to make.  It’s just entertainment.

The movie does have some huge flaws with the movie as well, that mostly I feel stem from edits made to the movie.  It clocks in at about two hours on the nose, and in that the first hour is basically all set up, introducing the world, the characters and such, and the latter half being the action part of the movie.    In doing so we lose a lot it seems.  The villains are the weakest part of the movie, as we know really next to nothing about them, their motivations, other than bringing the Dark Lord back to Earth, so we don’t really feel, or care anything for them.

Other characters such as Will Smith’s character’s wife and daughter are introduced and don’t have anything else to do in the movie, they just disappear for the rest of the movie, and others such as the Magical FBI guys feel like they should have been in the movie more, like we should know about them, but we don’t, so in the end the movie feels incomplete because of that.

In the end, it’s far from a perfect film, but it is a fun movie, and it’s an original idea (script written by Max Landis-Chronicle) which in this age of adaptations and remakes we can’t really turn our nose up at because original films are so few and far between.    If you have Netflix it really is worth two hours of your time to watch and just enjoy.   Just don’t think about it too much.

Bright- B



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