Do you remember Suicide Squad? No, neither do I. But I do remember what I thought about it, which was 1) this is terrible 2) oh hey, it’s Will Smith! So, on that subject, let’s talk about Netflix’s Bright.
Director: David Ayer
Writer: Max Landis
Starring: Will Smith, Joel Edgerton, Noomi Repace, Edgar Ramírez, Lucy Fry
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.
If you take a look at Twitter, it looks like “Old Hollywood” has teamed up to take down Bright and stop the evil internet people from being real rivals.
Well, I’m an evil internet people, and I’m afraid that I didn’t think it was very good either.
Netflix is clearly picking up on the growth in competition. While they once had the advantage of running with no—or pretty weak—competition, they’re now up against competitors that can really hold their own. The Disney-Fox thing, too, is probably a worry, because Disney seems intent on sucking up every franchise under the sun.
Netflix’s response? Make their own! Netflix is set to crank out plenty of original content. Among that is this movie. Bright is definitely intended to be a larger franchise. In fact, they’ve already ordered a sequel. But at the time of writing this, Bright is sitting in the twenties (out of 100) on Rotten Tomatoes.
So, uh, how’s that one going, Netflix?
Oh, What Could Have Been
I’m kind of sad after watching this movie because I don’t think it’s that great, but it could have been. It has a unique blend of cop drama and fantasy. It has Will Smith. I has—*sighs*
It really is a unique blend of genres. Bright is a cop drama, and a fairly gritty one, but it’s mixed with fantasy elements like magic, and it’s headline fantasy species. Orcs, elves, fairies, and other fantasy creatures are sprinkled into the real world and used to tell a law enforcement story. That’s not really something that’s been done before. And not only is it franchise fodder, having a world that allows for much more storytelling, it’s also just different. (Except, it isn’t. But I’ll get to that.)
Bright could easily have cashed in on its uniqueness, gained the support of all the dedicated fantasy (and Will Smith) fans. Not to mention that fantasy is a ready-made template for discussing social issues, which this movie does. It’s backed up by a strong premise and strong ideas. But, in the end, the execution of those ideas was a little sloppy.
It’s Me, Deadsh—I mean Ward
I get it. Directors have a style. A Tim Burton Movie is a Tim Burton movie. A Quentin Tarantino movie has feet. But there comes a point when you’re just pushing it. And when I saw that Bright and Suicide Squad were directed by the same dude, it made—sadly—a lot of sense.
Bright and Suicide Squad are both crime-fighting movies with a quirky twist. They both have this whole thing going for them with people you wouldn’t expect to be the heroes being the heroes. They both have the same problem of weak and sloppy execution of strong ideas.
Ayer brings much of the aesthetic of Suicide Squad to Bright, but it doesn’t come off very well. It carries this gritty and dark tone, but all that it is is dark and gritty. There’s little to no thought to the style that this grittiness has. This 1) leaves it feeling empty and 2) makes it kind of like a watered down version of those horror movies that turn themselves into un-scary gore porn. With there being no thought behind the gritty aesthetic and how it’s applied, it kind of just has the effect of making the film look ugly.
That’s Not Funny, You Sick Fuck
Thanks, Critic. Always a pleasure.
Bright got a couple of laughs out of me with its jokes. And, after it had gotten those couple of laughs out of me, I realised the problem. Well, the problem other than two laughs in a movie riddled with comedy problem.
While the story that Bright tells is a buddy cop drama that’s taking itself very seriously, the dialogue has a strangely light comedic tone to it that leaves two tonal sides jarring. As well as this, it has a pop soundtrack (again, like Suicide Squad) that … drives soundtrack sales, I guess.
Actually, no. This movie got three laughs out of me. When it played a pop ballad over Ward dramatically shooting some cops down … that was fucking hilarious.
In my review of Justice League, I mentioned how the movie seemed to be imitating Marvel’s comedic style, and how this really didn’t work. Putting aside debates about whether or not the movie was imitating Marvel, it didn’t work because the tones didn’t mesh. DC’s movies have always had a darker tone than Marvel’s. There’s a tonal disconnect when it’s battered with comedy. Marvel’s brand of banter and bathos works because it matches its visual style, and when the movies do stray into grittier territory as with Logan they appropriately drop that comedy. (Although … Fox … Disney … Damn it, there’s a joke in there somewhere.)
Comedy is good. Comedy is great. Comedy builds on scenes, breaks tension, develops characters and their relationships. But it should be used appropriately.
At Least It’s Not an Urgal
It’s not uncommon for fantasy the fantasy genre to be used to discuss race relations. Bright does the same thing. As I said, this world is just ready to be expanded upon. The level to which its expanded in this movie, however, leaves a bunch of stereotypes designed to represent things. And not just stereotypes of real people. Stereotypes of fantasy creatures, too. It’s nice to see this urban look at fantasy creatures. It’s kind of a shame that the fantasy creatures are all exactly what we expect them to be.
In a lot of ways, I feel like the characters are all exactly what we expect them to be. Once they’ve thrown the initial exposition at you, it’s kind of like, “Yep, I know what they’re gonna do in this movie.” And that’s kind of typical of, you know, movies. Especially buddy cop movies. It kind of leaves me wanting more, though, you know?
I said that I want more, and I do. I want to see this world expanded on. I want to see more Will Sm—uh, Ward. I do think that, objectively, this movie wasn’t executed as well as it could have been, but that doesn’t mean that there’s no enjoyment here. I love the potential of the world that this movie created. Bright may not have executed its potential, but that doesn’t mean that there isn’t any.
And even when I think that a movie isn’t the best thing I’ve ever seen, that doesn’t mean I completely hated watching it. It still got those couple laughs from me, right? I stand by my statements about its issues with tone, worldbuilding, and everything else that I said. But I’ll watch the sequel. Sure I will. I probably won’t rewatch this film, though. I’ve already seen Suicide Squad twice.
That was a joke, I swear. This movie is a lot better than Suicide Squad. It’s not going to burn your eyes out, for one.
And, look. I’m not a big bad Old Hollywood critic who wants Netflix to go away. I’m just a movie lover on the internet. And I love Netflix. I want streaming to succeed.
Besides. Old Hollywood isn’t going anywhere.
Rating: Golden Suicide Squad/10
Or, it was enjoyable but it frustrated me.
What did you think of this movie? Tell me. I love hearing from you. And like the post if you enjoyed it. It lets me know what kind of content you guys are interested in.
This review was requested. If there’s anything you’d like me to check out, you can always drop it in a comment or tweet and I’ll see what I can do.