So, the Netflix production of Bright is getting a lot of attention and love on the blogosphere. I wanted it the weekend it was released, and was mildly looking forward to it. I'm actually surprised it is getting the favorable commentary that it is. It wasn't at all a bad movie; it just didn't register to me as exceptional in the way that it seems to have registered with others.
Bright is clearly an urban fantasy with the Shadowrun tabletop gaming copyright marks rubbed off. Orcs, Elves, fairies, and mages in a modern dystopia... yeah, this will be familiar to anyone who knows tabletop roleplaying games. There's nothing especially creative about the setting, although it does present something that's rarely been seen on movie screens. The A plot boils down to a mcguffin chase, further reducing the creativity marks, though it's pretty well handled.
The B plot maps the "Orcs" into a racial role similar to stereotyped blacks, with star Will Smith (actually black) portraying a police officer thrust into an uncomfortable partnership with an orc officer (thematically black, and actually blue). So let me get this out of the way first: the blue makeup is awful. Really. Every orc in the movie looks awful with the makeup on. I don't know why they did that. It was a mistake. It took me out of the movie every time I saw it, and given that there's an orc in damn near every scene, that's bad.
Speaking of makeup, the elves mostly handled it better, but one recurring character -- a suited elven federal agent with long hair and a lot of body mass -- similarly broke my suspension of disbelief. That was more poor casting than poor makeup, though.
Aside from the makeup, the B plot draws heavily on narratives about corrupt and racist police officers who don't want "their kind" (orcs/blacks) on the police force. Granted, people like that actually exist. Practically, the almost comically overacted villainy as presented in Bright would doubtless lead to them being discovered and kicked off the police force rapidly in any world like our own modern world.
I'm not entirely sure the movie is actually doing anyone any favors by mapping the orc culture into stereotypical black culture in this movie. It almost seems to be advancing those stereotypes rather than fighting them, with the sole exception of Joel Edgerton's orc officer. The latter is believably earnest but doesn't exactly exude competence.
While I can say I enjoyed the movie, and I'd like to see more urban fantasy type projects show up, this one goes in my books as distinctly flawed. However, it's flawed in the way that things are flawed sometimes when you try something new and don't quite succeed. If there's a sequel, I'll be looking forward to it, but it's best to go into the movie with the right level of expectation. It's no Lord of the Rings, but it's definitely a breath of fresh air in the movie business.
This entry was published Sat Dec 30 09:08:15 CST 2017 by TriggerFinger
and last updated 2017-12-30 09:08:15.0.