Bright: A film that could have shone as a series
A fantasy/crime-thriller featuring humans, orcs, elves, an all-powerful wand and elaborate world building alongside poignant parallels of institutional racism and police brutality, David Ayer’s Netflix Original, Bright, has the formula for a compelling fantasy, but, unfortunately, it tries to cram so much into its two hour runtime that it quickly deteriorates into a jumble of ideas jostling for attention.
Bright sees LAPD cop Daryl Ward (Will Smith) and his orc partner, Nick Jakoby (Joel Edgerton), encounter a young elf (Lucy Fry) in possession of a powerful magic wand. When word gets out Ward and Jakoby are in possession of the wand, they must evade those who seek to take the wand for themselves and ultimately stop it falling in the hands of renegade elf Leilah (Noomi Rapace) who desires to use it to resurrect a mysterious dark lord. On paper, Bright has the potential to be a unique (albeit somewhat generic) fantasy, especially given the focus on racial issues raised with conflicts between humans, orcs, and elves, but there is nowhere near enough time spent exploring these issues to allow them to resonate fully. Instead, Bright is too preoccupied hammering out exposition in an attempt to contextualise its world that these themes are lost within an abyss of subplots. There is much left to be desired here.
Clumsy storytelling is not aided with even clumsier dialogue. The majority of dramatic scenes involve characters shouting at each other to “shut up”, “put down the gun” or “step away”, which makes them hilariously awkward. Although Smith and Edgerton have good chemistry together, Smith’s brand of comedy frequently feels out of place within the film’s bleak and violent world, consequently substituting any drama for cheap laughs.
Despite its messy delivery, Bright’s shining success lies in its engaging world. The grimy crime-ridden LA streets make for an ideal home for orcish and human gangs to thrive. From underground punk clubs to seedy backstreet rackets alongside hints of a rich mythos between the three races, there has clearly been a lot of thought put in to building a captivating world. It is only a shame not much time is spent exploring it more. Perhaps if Bright were a series more could be done to expand on the world and characters in a way that cannot be done within a two-hour film.
Bright is released nationwide on 22nd December 2017.
Watch the trailer for Bright here: