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Movie Review: Bright

Enter a new world with Bright. Image used from cinemablend.com

For the past few years Netflix has set itself up to be a colossal competitor in the movie and TV industries. With numerous original programming under it’s belt it’s already proven to be a juggernaut. But earlier Netflix chose to flex it’s muscles again as it beat out major studios in acquiring the rights to Bright a massive budgeted fantasy film. After putting so much into it and standing by it to the point of already green lighting a sequel has Netflix made the right choice or was it a dim decision.

 

The story for Bright is flawed but nonetheless crafts a very engaging and promising world and lore. The story takes place in a world where fairy tales are real and creatures such as orcs, elves and others live among humans. The main story follows officers Daryl Ward and Nick Jakoby, a human and the first orc police officer. The main story involves the two finding a wand, which in this world can only be used by a select few called Bright and can cause great joy or destruction, and an elf woman named Tikka, and must keep both away from a group of evil elves who wish to revive an ancient evil. From here it’s a long game of keep away with action set pieces thrown in and our two main leads growing as characters. That’s pretty much it and that’s the flawed aspect of the story, it isn’t bad and the little there is does work to keep the story moving and thanks to the fine pacing and well placed set pieces the film is fun and entertaining.However, similar to Pacific Rim before it Bright’s world and lore are what make it engaging and incredible. The fantasy world works very well, bringing fantastical ideas and creatures into the present and truly giving the feeling that this is the way the world has always been. What’s clever about it is that the film never truly dives into a history lesson on what’s happened save for a few references to The Dark Lord, the aforementioned ancient evil. However, it doesn’t really have to as not only do we get the idea of how these creatures and humans stand in the world but we get an idea of how the world works through the opening credits. You know you’re in for a treat when the film has a clever and excellent opening credits scene. The film opens with numerous graffiti art and through this art and no dialogue we immediately learn that the orcs are an oppressed group, the elves are incredibly entitled and selfish and of course and brief introduction of the Dark Lord. The major theme of the film of course is racism and for the most part the film does a decent part of getting it’s point across. It can be rather ham fisted and heavy handed though it does manage to get it’s point across and it is nice to see a film utilizing political and social commentary. But the theme does work more in the case of Jakoby. Jakoby is an un-blooded orc meaning he is ostracized by his own group and being the sole orc in an all human police department he finds nothing but contempt and hatred. His story is interesting as he belongs nowhere and feels as if he has no people and is isolated in society. Overall the story is simple but the world it’s established is immensely creative and is one that holds unlimited potential to grow.

 

The characters for Bright are a mixed bag.

 

Ward and Jakoby are both interesting characters. Jakoby of course is interesting because of his stance in society but also his want to do good, follow the law and help all those he can. Ward is an interesting character as he has to grow and learn. Initially he has a deep hatred for Jakoby because of who he is. There is the semblance of a good man from the start, a man who wants to do good by his family, but his arc to becoming a better man is one that he still needs to go through and one that works.

 

Tikka is a decent character. Unfortunately she doesn’t get much to do nor does she have any real development as a character. She does get some characterization eventually but that only happens in the third act of the film and by then it’s too late to make her a compelling character.

 

Our villain is an evil elf named Leilah and along with her two cohorts she wishes to revive The Dark Lord. That’s all that their characters have to them. They rarely speak, they show very little emotion and feel almost as if they aren’t even there most of the time. They are very intimidating villains due to their fighting prowess and numerous acts of violence but they are not interesting or memorable villains.

 

There is a group of cops that serves as the secondary villains who under normal circumstances wouldn’t even be worth mentioning. However, they are such forcibly bad villains that I can’t help but talk about them. Once the wand is found the group comes up with a plan to murder both Ward and Jakoby so they can keep the wand for themselves thus truly setting the events of the film into motion. The problem is that by this time is is established and known that only a Bright can use a wand and anyone else will simply die. Add on top of that the fact that certain spells are needed for the wand to work and you have a great big pile of of confusion and senselessness.

 

Acting for Bright is well done

 

Will Smith gives a fine performance as Ward. It isn’t his best performance, in fact it’s more or less the same performance he’s given over the past few years. He’s still charming and it’s still a good performance but it’s the same song and dance we’ve seen before.

 

Joel Edgerton gives a good performance as Jakoby. Edgerton’s performance is one that he could have taken easy on, just let the makeup distract the audience and not put any effort in at all. But no, Edgerton is dedicated and does his all to give a heartfelt performance. He also works well with Will Smith as the two have good chemistry and despite Smith’s performance the two easily manage to carry the film by themselves.

 

Noomi Rapace is wasted in this film. The problem is that not only does she rarely talk but when she does it’s in elvish so it’s difficult to judge her acting. In all fairness it would have been smarter just to hire a woman who was a good martial artist due to her character’s reliance on fighting and lack of actual acting needed.

 

The makeup and effects for Bright are a real sight to behold

 

The makeup along is incredible. The makeup is mainly focused on the orcs and the designs are creative and even colorful and not only look incredibly good but the actors look unrecognizable. Even more simple uses of makeup such as for the elves look really good. The CG is also well done as it blend with the world nicely, isn’t used too much and all around looks, well, fantastical.

 

The action for Bright is entertaining

 

After the more disappointing action of Suicide Squad it’s great to see David Ayer back in top form for Bright. The action scenes are energetic, visceral and are thoroughly exciting with some truly fun and well made gun fights, fast paced and destructive car chase scenes and brief but still great fight scenes with fine choreography. The editing and cinematography are top notch and capture every explosive moment. It’s really good to have so many fun and entertaining action set pieces and it’s good to have Ayer doing well again considering how sloppy he was last time around.

 

Final Thoughts: Bright isn’t a perfect film. The main story isn’t strong and it has some blatant plot holes and the theme can be heavy handed but overall the world is breathtaking and has so much promise, the two main characters and leads are good, the makeup is excellent and the action is fun. It’s a fun and immensely entertaining fun and a good foundation for a very promising franchise.

 

Verdict: 3.5/5

 

About the Author

Good day to you, my name is Jonathan Gonzalez. For years I've loved movies and have been reviewing them for years, ever since I first saw Roger Ebert on Ebert and Roeper during my freshman year of high school for the first time. I am a graduate of Mercy College with a Bachelor's in Journalism and I have Asperger's Syndrome, something I am truly proud of.

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