I planned to watch Mute, but that did not really work out as planned. Netflix and their scheduling made me incredibly disappointed when I saw that I had to wait until the 23rd of February. Anyway, I decided to watch Bright instead. Now there has been quite some controversy surrounding this film. Max Landis, writer of the flick, said that Bright could be his Star Wars. Sadly for him, the film quickly earned the title “Worst film of 2017”. Well, for those of you who don’t want to read an entire review, yes it is really bad. But how come a film with a massive budget, a seemingly interesting premise and a great cast could go so wrong?
What is it about?
That is a very good question, because to be honest, the story is a little bit all over the place. Anyway, the story is set in an alternative reality of our own. America is America, but it is not only inhabited by humans. Orcs, Fairies and Elves are also living among humans. Officer Ward (Will Smith) is forced to work with Officer Jakoby (Joel Edgerton), an orc who has a hard time fitting in. Orcs are second-class citizens, and nobody at the force wants him there, nor do the orcs accept him for his treason.
They discover a young elf, who is in possession of a magic wand. Magic wands give the wielder anything they desire, but it can only be held by a bright. Ward and Jakoby have to keep the elf safe while their colleagues want them dead, gangsters want the wand and a group of Elves called the Inferni are searching for it. They apparently want to bring the Dark Lord back. Because what is a fantasy film without a Dark Lord?
Basically this is the premise of the film. I shall not get into all the endless plotlines that make zero sense.
Why is it controversial?
Bright wants to be a reflection of our society nowadays. It strongly alludes to the race relationships in America. You have the humans and elves, who are superior. Fairies and especially Orcs are second-class citizens. While it isn’t a bad thing to want to discuss these themes in a film, the execution leaves a lot to be desired. It is slightly cringe-worthy to have Smith exclaim that “Fairy lives don’t matter today”. It is also painful to see the way Orcs are being treated by everybody in the film. Because hey, racism is not a thing anymore. Orcs are the bad guys because they supported the Dark Lord back in the day.
Chance The Rapper explained it best:
I always feel a lil cheated when I see allegorical racism in movies cause that racism usually stems from human emotion or tolerance but not by law or systems the way it is in real life. The characters in #Bright live in a timeline where racism is gone… cause we hate ork now 🤨
— Chance The Rapper (@chancetherapper) 27 december 2017
Bright wants too much
Apart from the racism controversy, Bright is just not a very good film. Sure, visually it is stunning in some places. The special effects look great. I would have been offended if they hadn’t with a budget like that. It’s just the shallow writing that prevents Bright from being a good film in so many aspects. There is a whole mythology behind the world of Bright, yet the creators tried to cram it all in two hours. It is exactly why Bright will never be like Star Wars. Polygon wrote a great article on this.
It is difficult enough to create a world from scratch, but it is more difficult to incorporate a new world into our own. Especially when the creatures you use are so well-known in pop culture. Netflix has produced a History of Magic video, but this whole story is not incorporated into the actual movie. This makes it nearly impossible to follow who is who. The characters’ motivation is never clear. We only know that they want to bring a Dark Lord back to plunge the world into darkness. Apart from that, nothing is really explained which makes the film difficult to follow.
It also seems like the creators were adamant to use every trope in the fantasy book and stuff it into these 120 minutes. You have your prophecy (although I have still no clue what the prophecy is), you have followers of a bad guy who want to bring back such bad guy. Let’s not forget a reluctant hero who has secret powers. Especially in the last hour, it seems like a million storylines suddenly need to be added or resolved and it just doesn’t work. It makes the whole thing confusing and quite frankly not worth your time.
Despite the bad reviews, Netflix has already greenlit a sequel. While it is understandable that they have, the film has been watched many times mainly thanks to the bad reviews, I still think it is a waste of budget. The story just doesn’t work, no matter how much they try to make it work. The sequel will be helmed by director David Ayer, who apart from directing Bright, also managed to make Suicide Squad a waste of time.
All in all, I would suggest not to waste two hours of your life on this. If you want to see orcs, elves and humans, just watch Lord Of The Rings instead.