What Did “Bright” Get Right?

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“Bright” is a present-day fantasy/action/crime/drama starring Will Smith (“Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” and “Men in Black”) as Daryl Ward, a veteran human police officer, and Joel Edgerton (“Exodus Gods and Kings” and “The Great Gatsby”) as Nick Jakoby, an orc and a newly enlisted police officer.

The Netflix premiered flick began streaming Dec. 13, 2017, and was quickly berated by film critics as it achieved a rating of 30 percent on movie aggregates Rotten Tomatoes, however, what was stifling was the audiences’ response which weighed in at 90 percent as of Dec. 16, 2017. The disparity between the two prompts viewers to look back at the movie to see what “Bright” got right.

“Bright’s” plot was explained as a buddy cop movie that paralleled many others like “Training Day” and the “Lethal Weapon” franchise. However, this detracts from the uniqueness of “Bright’s” premise as the two never really warm up to each other to be considered buddies. The plot is best described as a present-day fantasy action film, which paints over the many faces and social ills that exist in society under the guises of imaginary creatures. In doing so, the movie appeals to a wider audience of science fiction lovers, while tackling social ills on a large scale.

The film tackles racism, prejudice and greed while juxtaposing tensions with police and public perception of the office. The stealth-like manner the Director, David Ayer (“Suicide Squad”) approaches these topics is understandable as the public is quite verbal in recent times about the way social ills are portrayed on screen.

The plot is advanced by an elf named Tikka portrayed by Lucy Fry (“H20: Just Add Water”), who is in possession of a magic wand that can only be held and used by a ‘Bright,’ an individual of an obscure rarity. Throughout the remainder of the film the trio attempt to keep the wand away from Leila, Noomi Rapace (“What Happened to Monday”). Leila, also an elf and relative to Tikka wants to use the power of the wand to usher the return of the (Dark Lord) an individual whom is seen as pure evil.

The strength throughout the film are the characters that move the storyline on with great skills and energy. The falter, however, lies within the storyline never expressly saying the origin of the other races, who the dark one is and what transpired before the events of the film. However, critics and audiences alike have complained over the years of origin films, and franchising hopes to be too much to handle. Further, the discussion of spoon feeding audiences information over the years, as opposed to ‘leaving it to the imagination’ or ‘tying up loose ends’ in subsequent sequels has prompted directors to take large leaps of faith as was taken in “Bright.”

Despite the backlash, the characters while on screen do not saunter; their dialog is witty, direct and fluent. They grow independent of each other while growing symbiotically in relationships that are built of necessity. One of the harshest critiques of the movie relates to the underdeveloped relationship between Will Smith and Joel Edgerton, which never becomes normal. This critique counters the description of the movie made by critics, as the tension between the two continue to the very end, suggesting that it could not be a “buddy cop” movie.

Throughout the film, the audience is treated to several nods of past movies under director Ayers remit, one of which was “Training Day.” The scene involves the two protagonists at gunpoint by a gang leader; the duo is not executed as one of them had previously saved the executioners life. Ayer’s allusion to his previous work proves to be effective, as we can compare good references when describing the movie in future detail.

Despite having experienced an insufferable amount of backlash from critics, “Bright” created a world similar to our own in which real-life issues could be addressed in a more politically correct way. This included the amalgamation of household science fiction characters (Orcs and Elves) while allowing humans to galvanize irrespective of race against a common enemy. This concept parallels the anti-Muslim Semitism currently on display within the American society. “Bright” was not perfect in its attempts, however, the announcement of a sequel will be sure to clear up any ambiguities left in the prequels wake.

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