According to other reviewers, Bright is worse than the 2017 disaster “Emoji Movie” and a bigger stain on Will Smith’s CV than “After Earth”. Right out of the gate I’m going to make it clear that I disagree with both of those statements.
If you liked the trailer, if you’re interested in fantasy/sci-fi twists on modern western society, or exploration of race and class politics, or good old fashioned odd-couple cop action movies, then you really should give Bright a watch and judge for yourself because chances are you’ll probably find it isn’t the “worst movie of the year”.
But how far from the worst is it exactly? Let’s break it down.
Although not executed flawlessly, the plot and story of Bright is excellent. Everything makes sense, there's signficant development from start to finish and there are some definite twists and surprises that save it from being as formulaic or predictable as many other action blockbusters.
Not the greatest performance of Will Smith's career, but even on his worst day it's not hard to buy into his role as a cop fighting to keep his city and his family safe. As Ward, this character does display more nuance and depth than that though, and with an impressive performance from Joel Edgerton as his Orc partner Jakoby, the development and portrayal of the lead characters is really great.
Some of the dialogue is brilliant, some of it falls a little flat, and the antagonists aren't nearly as well developed as the protagonists, but overall some really solid characters throughout.
At times Bright can be a little heavy going, there's a whole incredible world being built and explained from scratch before we even get into the intricacies of such fully formed characters and plot, but when things kick off this is absolutely a genuine action ride, with over-the-top sequences that get full marks for excitement and fun.
My interest was well and truly hooked by the final conclusion, and I don't understand how anyone could consider this movie not to be entertaining.
The special effects aren't super impressive or advanced in terms of CGI and make-up when compared to High Fantasy franchises like Lord of the Rings but the overall world of Bright is so cohesive and well constructed, every piece of graffiti and minor costume detail all pull together to create a fantasy version of Los Angeles that supports the thousands of years of unseen backstory and still manages to look and feel real.
The soundtrack is good, the action sequences in particular benefit from the music and SFX and it all helps to enrich the tone of not just the movie but the new fantasy world that Bright is introducing us to.
At times the sound balance isn't quite on the level that we expect from other movies, but for the most part it's all good.
There are no new ideas under the sun, but none of the similar concepts that Bright draws to mind from various geek fandoms have been put to screen quite like this.
The fantasy societies of Elves, Men, Orcs and even Dwarves all grown and evolved into a society very similar to our own world, with the added complication of powerful and mysterious magic mixed in with all the weapons, politics and drama that we already have?
The potential this concept has for sequels or spin-offs, as well as the potential it had as a stand-alone movie, is awesome.
This movie isn't perfect.
The terrible reviews certainly miss the mark overall, but there are valid criticisms to be had regarding pacing, over-abundance of exposition and some awkward moments between characters that are simple failings on the part of the writer, director or actors, but for the most part it's certainly not terrible.
I mostly covered this in the Concept section, but this is definitely an original movie.
It's unique as a fantasy movie, unique as a cop movie and for once it manages to be that unique without straying into "there's a reason nobody else thought of that" territory.
With so many genre aspects coming together, it's hard to argue that this movie isn't aimed at a very specific demographic, but having watched it with my whole family I can say that this isn't just a movie that only die-hard geeks will enjoy.
Bright does wield the double-edged sword of being complex and unapologetic though, which is great if you pick up on all the detail as it appears, but could easily make things confusing or overwhelming for others.
Add to that the unique status of being a Netflix exclusive release, and this isn't a movie that everyone will be able to see, let alone enjoy.
As is often the way with unique fantasy or science fiction settings, Bright has done all the groundwork to build a fantastic world and characters that have all the potential to make better movies or series than Bright itself.
I enjoyed Bright, but I'm extremely keen for the sequel... maybe with a Dwarf hero...
If the outcry was this wrong about Bright and Star Wars: The Last Jedi, maybe I need to give Emoji Movie a chance...