Sonic Cinema

Sounds, Visions and Insights by Brian Skutle


Grade : C Year : 2017 Director : David Ayer Running Time : 1hr 57min Genre : , ,
Movie review score

In theory, there’s a really good version of “Bright” out there to be made. I have a difficult time envisioning it myself, but that’s only because I think this concept is kind of ridiculous, on the surface. It’s basically “Lord of the Rings” meets “Training Day,” but while I understand the impulse to bring in fantasy elements to a film that also deals with social commentary about bigotry, the fact is that Tolkien said more in the light brush strokes with which he painted his world, and especially, the relationship between Legolas and Gimli (elves vs. dwarfs), about overcoming intolerance by making it more subtle than writer Max Landis (“Chronicle”) and director David Ayer (“Suicide Squad”) ever could in this film. In the right hands, this could be an interesting genre TV show, maybe, but we just don’t get enough here to make it an interesting movie.

The film is set in a world where the magical world, a fantasy world with orcs, elves and fairies co-exists with the modern human world. It takes place in Los Angeles, and we follow Daryl Ward (Will Smith) as he goes about his morning routine. His partner pulls up to get him for work, but Nick Jakoby (Joel Edgerton) is not what you would expect. He’s an orc, the only one in the LA Police Department, and that causes a lot of trepidation not just between he and Ward, but the others on the force, as well. The film started off with them on the beat, and Ward is shot when a thief is running away, and Jakoby didn’t stop him; the thief was also an orc. It’s not hard to figure out the social commentary at play here, which actually makes it somewhat relieving when the story hits into high gear when Ward and Jakoby find themselves in a firefight in a rough neighborhood, and discover a mystical wand at the scene, as well as an elf (Tikka, played by Lucy Fry) who is running from the dangerous Leilah (Noomi Rapace), who is trying to summon her dark master to this realm to reign chaos.

If you ever wanted an answer to the question of what happens when a generic fantasy story collided with a generic cop procedural, “Bright” is that answer. Neither Landis nor Ayer seem to have any idea how to make this story fun to watch or anything but a bland couple of hours, and while you get the sense of an interesting fantasy world that could be explored (and, evidently, WILL be explored, as “Bright 2” has already been greenlit by Netflix), you don’t get much in the way of context in how this alternate world, of sorts, exists, in the first place. If this didn’t have the names attached to it that it does, and it came up on Netflix, you wouldn’t give it a second thought, I reckon. It’s only noteworthy because of who is making it, and they don’t make it worth noting at all, in my opinion.

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