Bright (2017)
December 22, 2017 10:55 AM - Subscribe

Set in a world where mystical creatures live side by side with humans. A human cop is forced to work with an Orc to find a weapon everyone is prepared to kill for. Starring Will Smith, Joel Edgerton and Noomi Rapace.

Netflix’s first big movie “Bright” feels like a blockbuster built by an algorithm

30/90 on Rotten Tomatoes

Netflix’s ‘Bright’ Is a $90 Million Steaming Pile of Orc Sh*t
Bright is a misnomer on two levels. First of all, the majority of Netflix’s new $90 million original movie takes place at night and in fairly dingy rooms, and that, in combination with how the whole production is lit, means that most of the action is obscured and visually unintelligible. Secondly, there’s nothing about this movie that’s an inherently good idea—or rather, very generously speaking, maybe the story could have made some valid points about the state of race relations in America with a little more thought. But as things stand, Bright plays like the kind of movie a kid might make up (“And then this happens! And then this happens!”) if they were given a very rough overview of American history and then told to write a script about it. It’s almost worse that that’s not the case—scratch that, it is worse—but we’ll get to that.
The best critic slams of Will Smith's 'astoundingly bad' Netflix movie 'Bright'

Netflix's 'Bright' Is A Terrible Movie, So Please Don't Watch It

Will Smith's Netflix blockbuster Bright is stunning in its audacity—and its stupidity
posted by the man of twists and turns (72 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
 
Ooh, I didn't know this was coming out this soon. I'll probably still watch it despite the awful reviews, because I honestly can't remember the last time i saw an urban fantasy movie with an actual budget.
posted by Berreggnog at 11:31 AM on December 22, 2017 [1 favorite]


Will Smith-ing it up!
Hilarious that Ward get's stuck with the Orc because .... nobody wants to ride with Ward.
Is Will Smith some kind of apotropaic protector?

I feel like we're missing transitions from scene to scene.
Edgerton's orc is kinda ... incompetent
Was that a centaur cop?

Lots of exposition from these Magic Task Force guys.
The LAPS is super-militarized.

I really like this bathroom cleanup scene - fixing wounds physical and social. It's cliched, but cliches get used because they WORK.

Another fast transition with little connective tissue and a conversation in a dark place.
I feel like this rain is only for dramatic effect.

How did these three defeat Laila and her minions who tore through everything else?

The budget was $90 mil.

I really feel like a world with Elves, Orcs and Humans would not develop into something so close to our own, but.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 12:10 PM on December 22, 2017 [1 favorite]


Really!? People didn't like this movie?! I thought it was great! Lots of action and the the story kept moving. I turned it on late last night and decided to watch it all the way through even though I had to get up early.
posted by P.o.B. at 1:15 PM on December 22, 2017 [2 favorites]


Was that a centaur cop?

Yes, multiple centaurs showed up. Did you catch the dragon flying across night sky?

How did these three defeat Laila and her minions who tore through everything else?

Okay, yeah, I was wondering how Ward and Jakoby were able to handle them and thinking "but aren't those elves like really badass in a scary telepathic way?"
posted by P.o.B. at 1:19 PM on December 22, 2017


Yeah, I think a lot of the reviews are making this out to be a lot worse than it actually is. I just finished watching it about an hour ago, and it seemed like a perfectly serviceable B-movie with an urban fantasy theme. It could probably have used another pass or two on the script, but overall I thought it was okay.
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 1:56 PM on December 22, 2017 [2 favorites]


Honestly what is feels like is a not very good script by Max Landis and Ayer bringing on board the whole production team, lighting, set dressing, effects, etc, from Suicide Squad.
posted by Catblack at 2:38 PM on December 22, 2017


I was disgusted by the scenes that put a black cop in the position of watching police brutality on orcs and then having him shrug and drive away. And, prior to that, "elf lives don't matter today." Gross. Tone deaf. Yuck.
posted by xyzzy at 3:42 PM on December 22, 2017 [12 favorites]


It came across to me that racial-based disparity and police brutality is pretty much the underlying point of the movie.
posted by P.o.B. at 4:09 PM on December 22, 2017 [2 favorites]


It came across to me that racial-based disparity and police brutality is pretty much the underlying point of the movie.
I was hoping for that, but it was so hamfistedly written that it just put a whole bunch of racist crap in the mouth of a black actor and failed to follow up on it in any meaningful way because of the elf/wand distractions. There was room to create a meaningful narrative throughline to modern police action and the screenwriter biffed it hardcore.
posted by xyzzy at 4:45 PM on December 22, 2017 [2 favorites]


The movie works much better if you imagine that the orc cop is a robot.
posted by Catblack at 5:15 PM on December 22, 2017 [2 favorites]


but it was so hamfistedly written that it just put a whole bunch of racist crap in the mouth of a black actor and failed to follow up on it in any meaningful way because of the elf/wand distractions. There was room to create a meaningful narrative throughline to modern police action and the screenwriter biffed it hardcore.

Will Smith is smart enough to understand what he is saying and big enough of a star not be hamstrung into what he would consider being racist crap. I think they were successful in making the movie they wanted to make and not the one you envision it should be. It sounds like it was very offensive to you though and that sucks to surprised with something like that.
posted by P.o.B. at 5:25 PM on December 22, 2017 [1 favorite]


I really, really enjoyed the opening credits. I thought those were really well done. Shadowrun af.

That's the extent of my positive commentary.
posted by absalom at 5:42 PM on December 22, 2017 [4 favorites]


Will Smith is a very unhappy and outright prejudiced man in his early fifties. He is doing an amazing thing here, using his acerbic wit to make the audience and all those around him hate him, Will Smith wit used for evil. Ward is an utterly unlikable jerk, and that's why he gets to ride with the Orc. Jakoby is flawed as well, he's no noble savage, his motivations for becoming a cop are sad rather than inspiring, and he's desperate for at least one of his peers to recognize him, and he fucked up the one time Ward needed him to bring in the shotgun assasin.

Ward is a very unhappy and outright prejudiced man, but he is, at his core, a decent and honorable man. He can make a snap decision and be confident it's the right decision, because he actually is the smartest man in the room. Not the most likable, and easily the most killable, but still smarter than the rest, and twice as tough as he is smart. This is what makes all the gunfights and car chases soooooo gooooooood....

SO. GOOD.

Jakoby is the by-the-books procedural Good Cop, and in the context of the movie, this is insane and awesome... he's still an Orc, but he's not the bad-ass, he's the protagonist who the bad-ass protects, who discovers the truth with his good-cop skills.

That car chase scene, tho. Once the door comes off, wow!

Also, there is a ton of background referenced baldly but never explained, an entire universe that we understand exists, but is not followed up upon, because it doesn't further the story of Ward, Jakoby and Tikka. The viewer gets to fill in the details as they would, some of them gleaned from graffiti in the opening credits, and a rich, full tapestry emerges. Nice.

Tikka is not a sexualized love interest. She is a victim of violent crime that two good cops are trying their best to protect... remember, they don't even know she's a Bright until halfway through the film! They want nothing from her other than for her to be safe. Once they do know she's a Bright, their goal is the same.

I really, really, really like this movie. It's The Warriors meets Training Day meets They Live, only smarter and sharper and politically prescient.

Also, the car chase with the cop SUV and the pickup truck is the actual literal best.
posted by Slap*Happy at 7:40 PM on December 22, 2017 [9 favorites]


(Will Smith is PORTRAYING, not actually... well, if you watched the movie, you get it.)
posted by Slap*Happy at 7:55 PM on December 22, 2017


One more note, at the end of the movie, Will Smith is there, wrinkles and all, as a 50-ish guy literally five years from retirement. Care lines drawn deep. Makeup is emphasizing how beat up he is rather than how puckish he is. It's not something we've seen often, or at all. This is a fine movie.
posted by Slap*Happy at 8:06 PM on December 22, 2017 [3 favorites]


This movie is really two movies at once. On the one hand it's a buddy-cop, one-bad-night type of movie only with Elves and Orcs and magic. That is a movie I would watch even if it wasn't all that great.

The other movie is some mumbly race analogy/parable set in a world where humans aren't racist toward one another (it seems? but maybe still to Mexicans because there was that one line about it) but instead toward other types of magical creatures (Orcs, Elves, Fairies, presumably also dwarves who are mentioned but not shown). That's the only way it makes sense to me and it's still a shit idea to start from -- it's also how you end up with Will Smith basically playing a white LAPD cop. Not actually white, because obviously, I mean he reacts to his world the way an actual white guy would in ours: He says 'Fairy lives don't matter' (which ugh, I can't decide if Ayers added that line or Landis had it in the original screenplay, either way just NO), he passively watches other cops beat up some orcs, he agrees to frame his orcish partner. This is all the behavior of a white cop in real life, only reframed in this movie's terms it makes it OK (? I mean with actual Will Smith, I guess) for a black guy to play that role instead, because in the movie world black guys aren't the targets of racism, that's what orcs are for. Or something like that.

What I'm trying to get at is I don't believe Will Smith agrees to say shit like 'Fairy lives don't matter' unless he perceives himself to be intentionally playing a racist, and I think he only agrees to play a racist in a setting where real-world racism just plain doesn't exist and instead orcs are the targets. Anyhow it's a super confused/confusing thing to attempt, and those aspects of the movie are done poorly to boot.

If you can kind of ignore the occasions on which the bad race analogy movie rears its head, the rest of it is a fairly straightforward romp kind of flick set in a novel (for budgets of tens of millions of dollars) world. There are still some things that are done poorly in that film too (why do the bad guys return to the house with the magic spring, why don't any of them speak much at all [I think Noomi Rapace said about 12 lines and the other two didn't get to speak at all], and why are they not absolutely ninja SHREDDING Smith and Edgerton who presumably have regular LAPD training but zero black belts between them?), but it's not the same level of bad as the race analogy, because the stakes there are much lower.

And to bring this whole non-essay word vomit home to something resembling a conclusion, I kind of think that the only way you can ignore all the bad race analogy film bits of it is if you're white, probably male, and also probably straight. Otherwise the bad race movie stuff is just too amplified by real life to get past.
posted by axiom at 8:36 PM on December 22, 2017 [6 favorites]


Like Three Billboards and Crash taught us, it's ok to be a racist cop if you occasionally do something nice.
posted by kmz at 9:10 PM on December 22, 2017 [3 favorites]


David Peterson did the two languages for this. Here's his posts about it:

general comments

Bodzvokhan: The Orcish Language from Bright

Övüsi: The Elvish Language from Bright
posted by vibratory manner of working at 9:50 PM on December 22, 2017 [2 favorites]


I had mixed feelings about it, but have to agree that 2k years of human, orc, elf, and what-have-you would have to unfold differently, or at least more differently from our world than was shown. I feel like if they were going to run it parallel to ours, development-wise, they'd have been better served by doubling down on all the anachronisms, just really jam them in everywhere you looked and in the backgrounds, just go ahead and lampshade it. As it was, the occasional centaur and distant dragon just served to raise questions rather than pile on fun anachronisms.

Still, they're apparently going to film a second, and now that the world's built, maybe the next can bring in more weirdness.
posted by los pantalones del muerte at 9:51 PM on December 22, 2017


If you scroll to the end of the Elf language post, there's a great detail about the FBI elf. The metal neck piece he's wearing is calligraphy that says "Elves above all. Above all Elves."
posted by vibratory manner of working at 9:54 PM on December 22, 2017 [1 favorite]


So, is this movie basically fantasy Alien Nation?
posted by Chrysostom at 10:03 PM on December 22, 2017 [6 favorites]


He says 'Fairy lives don't matter' (which ugh, I can't decide if Ayers added that line or Landis had it in the original screenplay, either way just NO)

Max Landis (who has been virtually silent about the movie after walking away due to some kind of disagreement) tweeted the following: "I believe the "Fairy Lives Don't Matter" line was an adlib by Will Smith, but I don't know for sure." And thus began the world's worst-ever game of hot potato.
posted by acidic at 11:10 PM on December 22, 2017 [4 favorites]


Bright might have worked if this movie were the first episode of a series that Netflix was dropping as a multiple episode season. As it is the movie's ending is far too concerned with setting up a sequel and not concerned enough with making sense. Also, the writers might have tried to be less racist when they're writing an allegory about racism. I will watch the sequel but at 90 million a pop Netflix is going to have to start making movies not television episodes.
posted by rdr at 2:11 AM on December 23, 2017


Will Smith's character in this movie isn't a black man, he's a cop. A humanoid force of oppression. Perhaps he was born black, but I find it perfectly believable that a cop with such a background would still say and do horrible things and ignore horrible behavior on the part of other police.
posted by yonega at 2:22 AM on December 23, 2017 [2 favorites]


If you scroll to the end of the Elf language post, there's a great detail about the FBI elf. The metal neck piece he's wearing is calligraphy that says "Elves above all. Above all Elves."

Soooooooooo straight up Nazi.
posted by Pope Guilty at 6:02 AM on December 23, 2017 [1 favorite]


I couldn't get over a lot of Bright's problems and lost interest 45 minutes in although I kinda saw it through as my husband wanted to see it to the end (thank goodness for mobile games).

One problem that I haven't seen mentioned much is that for such an interesting fantasy world, we're shown so very little of it. Like the torus world in Elysium, little glimpses of this interesting world are tossed around and never fully realized. How is it that so much of the movie happens in the dark, the rain or indoors?
posted by Calzephyr at 6:05 AM on December 23, 2017 [1 favorite]


Still want to know what Jordan Weisman thinks of all this.
posted by selfnoise at 6:09 AM on December 23, 2017 [4 favorites]


I really liked this movie too, and I was pretty shocked by how badly the critics slammed it. There's a huge disparity between critics and audiences on this one which is interesting.

Of course I didn't think it was perfect. I did find it unnecessarily brutal at times, and the whole final confrontation between the cops and the evil elves was kind of incoherent. Otherwise I found it highly enjoyable and a step above most marvel movies these days.

As for the problems that people are highlighting, it's interesting to think about. A lot of people complain about how the fantasy world wasn't fleshed out. Too be honest, that was one of things I liked a lot about this. The last thing I would be 20 minutes of exposition in the movie along the lines of "here's exactly what the orcs did, and here's exactly how wands work..." I mean, why? The movie is built on standard fantasy tropes so that we can just live in the world rather than having it explained to us.

As for the problematic social commentary, it's tricky. Too be honest the most offensive thing I found about the movie is how it was apparently produced by "Trigger Warning Entertainment". That just seems to be in poor taste, and primed me to expect the dissing of "liberal snowflakes" or whatever throughout the movie. Which apparently I didn't find.

The "Fairy lives don't matter today..." line... the black cop ignoring police brutality... none of these stuck out as problematic too me. I mean, yes, I'm a white male, so maybe I'm just not tuned into these things in the right way, but the fairy was just a fairy, and Will Smith was just a cop, and being black didn't matter? The diversity of the cops in the movie only served to emphasize that with other people are more different, the in group becomes larger.

I can understand that if you try and map african americans onto the orcs in this movie, then things become problematic, but why would you do that? Can't a movie say something simple and general about racism without it being about this racism here? I mean, the movie didn't even have much to say about the topic other then, here's some different people who are treated poorly, isn't that expected and shitty? And I'm like, yeah, sounds about right.
posted by Alex404 at 6:44 AM on December 23, 2017 [2 favorites]


So, is this movie basically fantasy Alien Nation?

No, this movie is basically somebody's Shadowrun game set in the present day.
posted by happyroach at 9:29 AM on December 23, 2017 [4 favorites]


Addendum: I only just figured out that the "fairy lives don't matter today" line is controversial in how it might dismiss black lives matter. For some reason I thought it was because "fairy" could refer to gay people. It still doesn't seem fundamentally problematic to me, but I can understand much better now why people might take issue with it.
posted by Alex404 at 9:37 AM on December 23, 2017


Not bad - worth the $0.02/hour I pay for Netflix every month - heck, I probably would have gone to see this in the theater when I was in my teens and playing Shadowrun.
posted by jkaczor at 12:17 PM on December 23, 2017 [1 favorite]


I'm genuinely surprised by how good this is. Joel Edgerton is where my eye is constantly being drawn to, his performance is phenomenal. Will Smith is good, better than he's been in the last little while. I'm not sure if it's Will Smith's performance or his choices as of late, but the past 10 years, he's sort of let me down in a lot of what he has acted in. This feels a bit like the righting of a ship and I really enjoyed this film. Not everything works but the world feels realized. This felt more lived in than the bullshit World of Warcraft film we got a year or two ago. My co-worker and I were discussing this film and we decided that this is the WoW film we should have been given, it just happens to be set in modern day Los Angels.
posted by Fizz at 7:38 PM on December 23, 2017 [2 favorites]


Without the chemistry between Will Smith and Joel Edgerton, I would not have enjoyed this nearly as much as I did.
But, if next we get Édgar Ramírez and Happy Anderson as the leads in a Magic Feds movie, I would be okay with that. Even moreso if they retcon Montehugh to be a very tall dwarf.
posted by Mister Moofoo at 2:01 AM on December 24, 2017 [2 favorites]


Not seen it yet, though Christmas is the season for getting drunk and watching less-critically-favoured movies. Last night was beer/Gods of Egypt night, so perhaps tonight could be wine or rum and Bright. It certainly sounds kinetic enough to be entertaining, and that's basically all I ask for at times like this.

Did want to mention that the thing about people being less racist when they can be speciesist comes from Terry Pratchett, who doubtless did it better.

Max Landis ... has been virtually silent about the movie after walking away due to some kind of disagreement
Does this go some way to explaining why season two of Dirk Gently (which I loved, btw) turned out like it did, with all the fairy story stuff?
posted by Grangousier at 4:07 AM on December 24, 2017


I remember being intrigued by the trailer, where I thought it was Alien Nation meets Shadowrun. Then I got as far as this:
[...] if the goofy crackle of blue magic that runs through the Netflix logo isn’t enough of a warning sign, that gag is followed by a card for a production company called “Trigger Warning Entertainment.”
before yelling "OH, FUCK YOU" at my screen. Add in the open secret in the industry of Landis being a garbage person, that's a hard pass from me.
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 3:45 PM on December 24 [4 favorites]


I saw a clip of Will Smith saying that it was Training Day meets Lord of the Rings and all of the reviews said that it was terrible. I thought that it looked like an updated Alien Nation, but I didn't have a problem with that because I loved Alien Nation when it came out. I was not expecting much but was pleasantly surprised. This was Alien Nation meets Leelo Elvish Multipass with Ivanka as the big bad. I had so much fun!

The movie works much better if you imagine that the orc cop is a robot.
oRc Daneel Olivaw
posted by ActingTheGoat at 5:31 PM on December 24 [2 favorites]


“Ain’t nothin’ here but rich-ass elves.”
posted by Burhanistan at 8:25 PM on December 24


Max Landis ... has been virtually silent about the movie after walking away due to some kind of disagreement

By "some kind of disagreement", do you mean the rape accusation?
posted by happyroach at 2:34 AM on December 25 [3 favorites]


It was fine, not really bad at all. As with some of the other Netflix originals (thinking particularly of What Happened to Monday), there's perhaps a sense of it not being fully baked, missing a level of editorial tweaking that movies get. Sometimes that allows a certain amount of eccentricity that Hollywood wouldn't allow (the cruelty in Monday or Okja, for example, which worked better in the latter than the former).

But on the whole it's the modern day equivalent of those perfectly watchable 80s scifi B-movies that I burned so much time with in my youth.
posted by Grangousier at 4:29 AM on December 25


I watched Guardians of the Galaxy II on Saturday and this on Sunday and honestly, this had much better pacing once it hit the buddy move, survive the night section of the movie. And it didn't have any stupid chick characters whose stories are entirely about their daddies (like all chicks in GotG II.)

I'm not saying Bright was good. It just didn't strike me as particularly different than any other big loud stupid "genre" movie I've seen in the past few years.
posted by Squeak Attack at 8:10 AM on December 25


By "some kind of disagreement", do you mean the rape accusation?

Yikes can we really not do better than an Ian Miles Cheong article on Milo's website??

Here's a rundown from another media outlet.
posted by yellowbinder at 12:46 PM on December 25 [2 favorites]




I did eventually wind up watching it, though I, too hit the producers credit of "Trigger Warning Entertainment", and excited directly out and went to watch something in Hulu instead. It's like listening someone give medical advice while using the word "toxins" three times in one minute. It's a sign someone with a large streak of willful ignorance is involved.

I do hope that fairies are like squirrels or wasps or something, though, and the chittering was not language. Otherwise, um, that scene and one-liner suddenly become so much worse.

Ultimately I decided I wanted to at least see Will Smith starring in Shadowrun: the Movie and held my nose. For a B-movie urban fantasy with a budget, I've seen worse. I have no desire to sit through it again though. Most of what I liked was the world building hints and I suspect those were throwaways and would not actually hold together under inspection.
posted by Karmakaze at 12:00 PM on December 26 [1 favorite]


The finale with him going back in to the burning building was edited weirdly, especially with the elf Fed saying “you’re safe now”.

Main takeaway from this one was that Will Smith got to save the world from weird alien shit again but this time he had an easy commute to the Netflix studio.
posted by Burhanistan at 12:07 PM on December 26


TBH, this movie seemed way more committed to being a gratuitously-unpleasant Bayesque action movie, than the low-fantasy riff on the Shane Black buddy-cop genre that it was pitched and marketed as.

For one thing, the fantasy aspects were entirely window dressing that BARELY affected the storyline; the wand was basically just a shiny gun that did extra-splattery gun things, the elf-sassins were basically generic sub-John Wick hitmen, and the girl magic-user was barely a character who didn't even do anything in the end. Compared with earlier attempts at original urban fantasy/horror like Cast a Deadly Spell, it comes across as a thinly-imagined attempt at worldbuilding (ooh, look, Elves have golden guardrails in their neighborhood!) that doesn't really give anything back to the material that it's plundering from.

But I guess the most maddening thing in the whole film was how its attempt at racial allegory was built around existing stereotypes of African-American/Latinx people that were sort of lazily dropped onto fantasy creatures played by mostly white actors, and then making a point of showing non-white human characters being viciously racist towards them. The one-star review over at BlackGirlNerds sums it up far better than I as a white dude can.
posted by Strange Interlude at 1:18 PM on December 26 [1 favorite]


Takeaway thoughts:
  • 90 million dollars and they couldn't afford some floodlights?
  • It seemed there was an awful lot of plot going on, behind the action scenes we actually got.
  • Action scenes were pretty good. Well, what I could see of them.
  • Kudos for the magic elf girl *not* getting tangled into romance or "hubba hubba" commentary from either of the male leads.
  • I guess the elfsassins were running out of energy points by the time they actually got to Our Heroes.
  • Daughter and I guessed wrong about when Ward finally picked up the wand; we had it tagged for 10 minutes before the ending, and it was almost 15.
  • I expected mediocre worldbuilding full of gaps, and this did not disappoint. Wasn't worried about that; fanfic has dealt with worse.
  • I'd love to see a series set in this world - if someone else were writing it. And also, if it had lights.

posted by ErisLordFreedom at 2:39 PM on December 26 [1 favorite]


The script got a bit more cringey at times but I wish they had dropped just a few more world building clues that answered a few more questions for me:
  • Did magic manifest much more in the pre-Dark Lord time? Was it mostly wiped out by defeating him except for a few wands and brights that caused civilisation to have to use technology rather than magic to advance?
  • What was the actual prophecy about Jakoby and Ward? Who prophesied it? Does anyone else besides the Orcs believe it?
  • Why are the Magic Feds hunting Shield of Light followers and not covertly supporting them if they both have the same goal of defeating evil magic?

posted by PenDevil at 3:10 PM on December 26


It was enjoyable enough, but my expectations were low. It wasn't very original, but it had a certain style and swagger that was nice. The lack of a romance was great. Will Smith was...Will Smith.

The racism angles were interesting in that I think it was human racism were mostly absent from the world. That's a really hard thing for most of us to process and it was something the film was trying to very clumsily point out.

It's not a subtle film and isn't quite as deeply mashed up as I would wish, but it's entertaining enough to make me want more. As long as its better.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:04 AM on December 27 [1 favorite]


I'm glad someone else mentioned Cast a Deadly Spell, which did a much better job of world building in a stand alone film It also did the genre blend thing nicely.

I also thought whole fantasy creatures being used to talk about racial prejudice was problematic.

There are some nice points to the film but I really found myself quite bored with a lot of it to the point that I paused the film to do dishes instead.

I suspected that this film was intended to be the first in a series, but considering critic response not sure that will happen and I really don't care if doesn't.
posted by miss-lapin at 11:27 AM on December 27


I suspected that this film was intended to be the first in a series, but considering critic response not sure that will happen and I really don't care if doesn't.

Netflix confirmed a week ago that a second film was greenlit, before the first one had even dropped. I don't know if anybody really understands their predictive model for gauging viewer interest ahead of time. But it makes me wish they'd hyped other Netflix originals like Okja or I Don't Feel At Home In This World Anymore half as hard as they seem to be flogging Bright.

Watching people's reactions to this movie over the last few days gives me the sense that it could end up as Boondock Saints for MMORPG nerdbros -- i.e. an unexceptional genre movie that doesn't really hold up to a close watch, but nonetheless becomes a briefly-hot cult item. This is because it superficially resembles other popular genre films, and you can watch it while playing video games or getting wasted and not really notice its shortcomings. If its audience actually had to watch this in a normal theatrical setting, I think the consensus would have been more in line with Suicide Squad.
posted by Strange Interlude at 12:03 PM on December 27 [1 favorite]


But I guess the most maddening thing in the whole film was how its attempt at racial allegory was built around existing stereotypes of African-American/Latinx people that were sort of lazily dropped onto fantasy creatures played by mostly white actors, and then making a point of showing non-white human characters being viciously racist towards them.

So it's District 9 except with different genres?
posted by Apocryphon at 12:15 PM on December 27


So it's District 9 except with different genres?

It's District 9, if it had been written as a backhanded (and weirdly color-blind) justification of Apartheid.
posted by Strange Interlude at 12:32 PM on December 27 [1 favorite]


Did anyone else get the impression that Will Smith may have micromanaged his lines so that he had to sound "bad ass" and cool constantly? There was just something off about it all that struck me as some sort of personal ego-inflating use of power over the script.

So much that was terrible about this film, I don't know where to begin. The characterization was all over the place, especially for the elf girl they were protecting. Sometimes they would show her distracted by something on a wall or whatever like she was from another dimension but then the next scene she would be fully competent.

Does anyone know what was going on when the bad elves (I can't remember their stupid names) walked in on the Latino family and then a baby cried and they all hushed up. Then the male bad elf walked over and looked into the crib menacingly as they started throwing the family around the room? It made it seem like they eat babies or something. Like many, many things in this film, it made no sense and was edited poorly.

Utter garbage.
posted by Falconetti at 12:40 PM on December 27


Watching people's reactions to this movie over the last few days gives me the sense that it could end up as Boondock Saints for MMORPG nerdbros -- i.e. an unexceptional genre movie that doesn't really hold up to a close watch, but nonetheless becomes a briefly-hot cult item. This is because it superficially resembles other popular genre films, and you can watch it while playing video games or getting wasted and not really notice its shortcomings.

I might have been offended by this if I had watched it sober, but you may have a great point.
posted by ActingTheGoat at 12:50 PM on December 27


Alamo Drafthouse-style cinemas where you can have food and drink are becoming more and more popular, so that's basically the direction that Hollywood is heading towards anyway.
posted by Apocryphon at 1:10 PM on December 27 [1 favorite]


I'm pretty sure I've spent more time trying to figure out what they meant to imply with that "Fairy lives" line than anybody did in the course of writing this movie.
posted by Phobos the Space Potato at 10:59 PM on December 27 [1 favorite]


I think regardless of how you choose to parse the line, the whole scene is to establish that Will Smith's character is an asshole bigoted LAPD officer. Ignore the words for a second and realize that he's stomping the life out of a sapient, while physically lesser, being. There's no way his words, no matter how you choose to interpret them, were meant to be a good thing. Though being Will Smith, the delivery had his usual sense of cool and likability, which complicates things but I don't think the filmmakers intended it to.
posted by Apocryphon at 4:06 PM on December 28


And that's the thing: If the fairies in this world are sapient, then our audience-surrogate main character just committed a murderous hate crime in the first five minutes of the film. On the other hand, if the fairies are merely household pests, then Landis/Ayer didn't see anything wrong with equating the sentiment behind Black Lives Matter with "Be Kind To Animals". It's just an inexcusably bad writing choice from a number of angles, and the fact that the filmmakers and Netflix chose to make that the ONE quotable line in their promotion of the film is mind-boggling.
posted by Strange Interlude at 7:47 AM on December 29 [3 favorites]


I think he did kill a sapient being. He goes on to kill many more sapient beings in the movie. Will Smith's corrupt cop character is not meant to be a nice guy.

It's also not so mind-boggling once you consider these corporations and big money guys are essentially soundbite consumers/creators that swallow up bits of culture and regurgitate it in any vaguely evocative/sensationalist way to grab more consumers, without considering the details. They named the production studio Trigger Warning Entertainment, after all. The entire project was decided by machine learning in the first place.
posted by Apocryphon at 1:45 PM on December 29 [1 favorite]


The characterization was all over the place, especially for the elf girl they were protecting. Sometimes they would show her distracted by something on a wall or whatever like she was from another dimension but then the next scene she would be fully competent.

Sounds like the characterization of elves I've seen from pretty much anyone playing them in an RPG. No wonder the geekboys like this film.
posted by happyroach at 3:55 PM on December 29


By "some kind of disagreement", do you mean the rape accusation?

I gotta say, this is the only reason I’m not watching it. Iffy reviews aside, Max Landis is dead to me. Unfortunate, because I did love Dirk Gently.
posted by greermahoney at 9:27 PM on December 29


I watched the end and the beginning of this, and it's very mediocre.

But I wanted to talk about how weird it is to see this advertised in a movie theater. Has anyone else seen Bright displays at their local cinema?
posted by FJT at 11:15 PM on December 31


A new featurette for Netflix’s Bright reveals the backstory that should have been in the film - "But this backstory is also plagued with some of the same flaws that accompanied the film: incongruities with an alternate world and the familiar history of our own. Magic was apparently banned in the 1800s, and it shoehorns in things like the Stone Henge to the Taj Mahal, to the first atomic weapons in 1945. It doesn’t all make sense in explaining the fantastical world with the more modern version we saw."
posted by the man of twists and turns at 11:24 PM on December 31


Netflix is like a fireman clutching an out of control firehose of cash spràying wildly.
posted by Burhanistan at 1:27 AM on January 1 [3 favorites]


Interesting world-building (and yeah the opening titles were good), but overall pretty dull. Way too long and yet there were apparently still plot elements they brought in and then did nothing with. I am on-board for Bright 2: Wizard Cop though.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 8:03 AM on January 3


I also had to remind myself that Will Smith is actually a good actor and has actually been in some good films, despite the evidence on display here.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 8:09 AM on January 3


Has anyone else seen Bright displays at their local cinema?

Not at the theater, but I pass at least 4 Bright billboards on the way home from work every day. Plus additional ads on walls/stations/etc. Basically the same level of advertising I'd expect for a major theatrical release, so a theater ad makes sense I guess -- they seem to be using the same playbook.
posted by thefoxgod at 8:04 PM on January 4


I don't need a world to go deep into a backstory, but I need it to have some semblance of possibility. They tell us that we fought with orcs for thousands of years or whatever, but...LA is just our LA with orcs and elves and shit? Maybe *slightly* more rundown but otherwise the same city? It feels like a copy-and-paste LA where they took 'black' and replaced it with 'orc'.

I had the same basic problem with Will Smith's lines. Half the lines Ward says to Jacoby are as if this is the first day on the job. But...it's not, right? He was his partner when he got shot, and presumably was doing cop things while Ward recovered from being shot. Is this supposed to be day two, a day one do-over? He veers from 'I fuckin hate working with this orc guy' to protecting him from Internal Affairs? Why?
posted by graventy at 1:48 PM on January 10 [1 favorite]


Ward is a nerd, an isolated intellectual. He thinks quicker and deeper on any given point of interest than everyone around him. Part of his frustration with Jakoby is that Ward's a prejudiced asshole, the other part is the mistaken notion that Jakoby let the guy who shot him off the hook, and the third part, most importantly, Jakoby cannot think as quickly as Ward does. So Ward treats him like a raw rookie as a racial insult, and as a plea from loneliness. Will Smith is fantastic in his role...
posted by Slap*Happy at 9:10 PM on January 14


Did they ever actually explain why Jacoby filed his teeth? They make a big deal of it in the movie that he didn't have the large teeth of the regular Orcs but I must have missed them explaining why he actually filed them down.
posted by garlic at 9:31 AM on January 19


The teeth filing seemed like a gesture toward humans to appear less threatening and different so they would accept him as a fellow.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:43 AM on January 19


Until an orc is blooded he does not have the privilege of growing his tusks. I'm certain that they explain this somewhere in the movie.
posted by rdr at 9:30 PM on January 20


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