Bright – A Film Review
First and Foremost
Before I talk about Bright, I hope everyone reading this has a Happy Holiday at their back, and a promising New Year on their way. It has not been lost on me that I didn’t post last week; sorry about that. I will be back to regular weekly blog posts starting next week. I intend on getting in touch with George C. Romero after the New Year about us starting, in full, his interview for this blog. I’m truly excited for this. From the single conversation we had, he’s a great guy.
Let’s Get Down To The Review of Bright, Shall We?
Over the holiday, I watched a film that I have been waiting months to see; David Ayer’s Bright, starring Will Smith and Joel Edgerton. If you don’t know Will Smith, you probably have been living under a log. Joel Edgerton, however, should be known by fans of Star Wars (me! me! me!) as Owen Lars in Episode II and III and as Sam Carter in The Thing, the prequel to the 1982 masterpiece The Thing with Kurt Russell.
I am going to rate the two leads of this film in separate headings, but I will say this about the film;
If you were a fan of the table top roleplaying game Shadownrun, then you are going to LOVE this movie. In an alternate universe Earth, Elves, Humans, Orcs, fairies, and who knows what other mystical creatures exist. Daryl Ward (Smith), is back to work after being out on medical leave due to being injured in the line of duty and holds a massive level of contempt against his partner Nick Jakoby (Edgerton), his partner, who was getting a burrito at the time.
This past event shapes, not only dialogue and dynamic between the partners, but also adds to the hostility toward Jakoby via the entire police department. You see, Nick Jakoby is the only Orc cop. Its implied that this is true through out the entire world. Orcs further suffer the hatred of all of the races (Elves, Humans, etc.) due to the entire race choosing the side of “The Dark Lord over 2,000 years ago”. Furthermore, Nick is “unblooded”, meaning he is not a member of any Orc Clan. He is not accepted, or respected by anyone; Human, Orc, or Elf. Ward shares in this hatred, which he masks in his hostility due to his injury.
The partners respond to a scene a grisly scene with a single elven survivor. The cops discover that the elf is a magic user known as a ‘Bright’, which means that they are way above their pay grade. Loyalties are tested, and enemies come out of the woodwork. The two partners must put their differences, and in Smith’s case racism, aside to ensure their own survival. They don’t even realize just how badly they need to come together to survive, as the Bright have a plan in motion that only they can foil before its too late.
Will Smith as Daryl Ward
I have never made it a secret that I love everything that Will Smith does. I even enjoyed ‘Wild Wild West’, so that tells you how I feel about the formerly known, Fresh Prince. There are a lot of aspects of his character Del Spooner from ‘I, Robot’ in his Daryl Ward character; he’s hostile, racist, and he’s really not all that likable. Yet, he still has that charisma that makes you nod for him in spite of how much of a jerk he is to his good-natured partner. Will Smith, like many actors before him, just gets better and better with age however. His body language, his timing, his everything is just top notch. It was a major boon to Netflix to get a star the caliber of Will Smith to do this exclusive film.
Even with his horribly racist attitude toward his partner, Daryl Ward is a man of pride and honor. When you expect him to be a POS, he is, but he does it in such a way that he’s a great guy about it.
Smith’s comedy is at the forefront even when he’s being a jerk. “Shave your mustache, bitch!” comedic gold right there. You watch it, you’ll understand.
Joel Edgerton as Nick Jakoby
Edgerton steals the show in this film, however. If I had to compare his performance under heavy makeup to anyone, I would compare it to Louis Gossett Jr.’s portrayal as Jeriba “Jerry” Shigan in one of my favorite 80s films Enemy Mine. I never would have known Edgerton was the Orc cop Nick Jakoby. Edgerton is good natured, and maintains a positive attitude despite being universally hated by everyone in the entire freaking movie. I mean literally. Everyone hates this poor guy. He’s so nice, and friendly. He wants to do the best job possible and always tries to do the right thing and what happens? He gets crapped on by his partner, other cops, and other Orcs. Being unblooded sucks for this poor guy.
What’s great though is that Edgerton plays out the genuinely good Nick Jakoby with such sincerity. He’s also hilariously funny when he needs to be (the end scene had me dying laughing), and when its time to be a bad ass, he doesn’t disappoint. For those that don’t know, Orcs are bad asses. They’re among the strongest humanoid mythological creatures, and Nick Jakoby goes full Orc when the time calls for it.
Co-Stars And Soundtrack Were FIRE!
Lucy Fry, who played the role of Poppy in Mr. Church with Eddie Murphy, is outstanding as Tikka; an elf who’s presence forces Ward and Jakoby to unite together. Comedienne Margaret Cho is so grim and nowhere near the funny woman that I have grown to be used to her as. The only other dramatic role that I remember her in was in Face/Off with Nicholas Cage and John Travolta. Yes. She’s even better than that role as well.
The original Lisbeth Salander from The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and its sequels, Noomi Rapace stars as Leilah, our primary antagonist. She’s creepy. She’s gorgeous. She is everything that fans of elves would expect of someone playing one of the ‘Fair Folk’.
The music in the film was also amazing. I’m not the biggest fan of today’s hip-hop, anyone who knows me knows this. But the music in this film had me bobbing my head, tapping my feet, and totally into it. The music and score fit every scene perfectly.
The Negative and a Light at the End of the Tunnel
So the one thing that I didn’t like about this movie was that there was just so much backstory and aspects of the world that were not touched on in this film. Granted, there’s only so much you can put out there in 120 minutes, so I am glad that it was announced that there would be more films in this series. I hope that, at least one, will be a prequel tale so that we can understand just why the world’s dynamic is the way it is.
If I weren’t into Dungeons and Dragons, or Shadowrun, I wouldn’t understand that Orcs tend to always be the bad guys and even they’re good guys they’re not trusted because they look like bad guys. I wouldn’t understand why the Elves are always the richest and most powerful of the races.
The fact that this mystical setting was done in a modern world was truly genius in my opinion, however, and I think that Netflix has again proven that its come into its own as an entertainment entity. They’ve come a long way from a mail-order DVD rental company.
In Closing and Rating
If you want a film that’s relatively original for what’s been coming out lately, with great action, drama and comedic timing then this is the film for you. If you further love Will Smith, than you will definitely want to watch this.
My rating of this film on a 5 Point scale is 4/5.
The acting is great. The action, and fight choreography is top notch, its an amazing film. However, there is just so much backstory and such that needs to be addressed and this film just doesn’t have the time to do it. It starts to paint the world, but it rushes through it a little faster than I would like. However, as previously stated, this is supposed to be the first entry in a series so let’s see what more they do.
Bright is available now to stream on Netflix.