Bright is the first “big budget” Netflix original film. It was released on December 22nd, 2017, and stars Will Smith as Daryl Ward and Joel Edgerton as his partner, Nick Jacoby. They’re a couple of LAPD beat cops who want to do their job and go home. Human gangsters, orc thugs, and evil elves make their work day a battle for survival as factions from all races find out they’re in possession of a legendary magical artifact.
As with everything I write for BlogCritics, this post will contain spoilers.
The film has seen generally negative reviews. I have a difficult time understanding why because I loved the movie. In fact, I’m watching it for the second time as I’m writing this. If you haven’t given it a watch, ask yourself some questions.
- “Do I love Bad Boys?”
- “Do I love Lord of the Rings?”
- “Do I want to see what happens when these two are combined?”
If you answered yes to all three of those questions, Bright has you covered. So keep reading to get my full opinion on the good, the bad, and the ugly of the flick.
“We’re Broken People Now”
These are the first words you hear when you start watching Bright, the Netflix original starring Will Smith. As the opening credits roll, we see graffiti tags covering a rough looking Los Angeles. We see fancy signs saying “Elves Only” and orcs standing on the corner peddling illegal wares or just up to general shady shenanigans.
Fairly odd for a fantasy movie, isn’t it?
In the first scene, Will Smith’s character, Daryl Ward, is shot by an orc while his orc partner, Nick Jacoby, played by Joel Edgerton, is grabbing a burrito for lunch.
Daryl and Nick have some awkwardly funny interactions throughout the film. They also have some really serious ones. Think of Nick the orc as an awkward, goofy Martin Lawrence type character from Bad Boys.
Throughout the film, my heart bled for Nick. His own people want nothing to do with him.
The orcs in this film are gangsters in a lot of ways. They’re about their own clans. They don’t care about the cops. They practice family law. If you aren’t an orc, and furthermore, not a member of their clan, you’re just someone in their way.
His own partner wants nothing to do with him. Every cop on the force thinks he doesn’t deserve to wear a badge.
All because of his race.
Getting to Know the Characters
During their ride to work, Nick turns on an old Cannibal Corpse song and refers to it as “one of the greatest love songs ever written.” I’m sure anyone else who’s a big old school death metal fan also caught the clip and chuckled the same as I did.
As the partners take a short-cut and cruise through “Elf Town”, you might notice something. Not that the elves are all wealthy and completely oblivious to the world around them. You’ll notice they’re all white. The only orcs in sight are Nick, a chauffeur, and you catch a quick glimpse of another wearing a blaze orange construction crew vest.
This is when I realized that Bright wasn’t going to be an ordinary fantasy movie.
The racial overtones aren’t so much overtones as much as they are a common and blatant theme. I’m really happy that the writer, Max Landis, and director, David Ayer, were allowed to keep these parts of the film in the final cut.
I don’t think Americans realize just how degrading and sad racism is. In fact, some people try to say it no longer exists at all. They must be people who have never ventured on to World Star Hip Hop, YouTube, or their local news.
Some people don’t “get it” until it’s laid out right in front of them. When they’re relaxing at home, having a beer, and watching some Netflix. This movie wasn’t just an opportunity to create a fantasy story with Will Smith, it was an opportunity to make a great film that took an interesting approach to a very real problem.
As the story progresses, we see more blatant racism, as people refer to him as a “pig mfer” when he’s standing in the next room. One cop passes him a picture of a suspect and asks, “Is this your cousin?”
Just a few scenes later, we see more orcs represented as gangsters and thugs. as well as orcs being brutally beaten by the LAPD.
Don’t Let These Themes Sway You
While some of these adult themes can be pretty intense, humor and interesting concepts and scenes are aplenty, in my opinion. Do not let the themes deter you from watching as any fantasy nerd is going to enjoy the story.
The real action begins when our heroes stumble upon a magic wand. We learn that magic users are called “brights”, and with 3 wands, a bad man called The Dark Lord can be summoned to once again rule the world with his terrible power.
“One in a million. But you know how you know if you’re a bright? When you touch a wand, with your bare hand, and don’t explode. Would you do that? Would you die to learn the truth about yourself?”
Now that, ladies and gentlemen, is how a true fantasy story is told. This film is no different.
The only difference here is that we get to see a gritty, more modern side.
We’ve all considered the fact that if elves existed in the modern world, they would be too pretty and too wealthy and too magical for their own good. Bright takes this idea to another level. And like any great fantasy story, it’s up to two heroes with normal, real-world problems, to save the day and make it home in one piece.
I’ll stop the spoilers here. But I will say this: These fictional heroes were able to rise above all of the same problems each of us deal with on a daily basis to become something more than they thought they were capable of doing.
So why can’t we all do that? Why can’t we put aside our hate and bigotries and focus on making the world a better place for everyone?
If two fictional characters can do it, so can the rest of us. Unlike them, we don’t need the help of a magic wand. The critics didn’t seem to really get it. I got it. It’s Bad Boys of the Rings with a real lesson. A lesson all of us can and should take to heart.
I hope you guys enjoy the movie as much as I did. Thanks for reading and leave me some comments below with your thoughts.