Watched the new Netflix original movie Bright starring Will Smith as an LA cop in a modern American full of humans, orcs, and elves living side-by-side. It’s in the book genre of urban fantasy but I’m not sure there have been too many tv or films with that premise. It’s unique in that sense but sadly it’s hard to defend since it’s not a particularly good movie.
The flick is a buddy cop movie starring Smith as a human and Joel Edgerton as a “diversity hire” orc, first of his species to join the police. In this world, orcs are not treated well and are often the urban poor (alongside the usual LA underclass). The orcs made a mistake of siding with a Dark Overlord thousands of years ago and are still persecuted for it today. Elves, on the other hand, are the rich and powerful, living in an alternate LA skyline of luxury. Humans exist in the middle. Other magical critters exists – we see nuisance faeries and a dragon in one wide shot.
The overall world-building and referenced history is pretty good in the film. I’ll credit the general look of the movie and the ideas they set up. They don’t spell things out for us usually, they use graffiti or incidental conversations to give backstory and color.
I can’t, however, credit the obvious story and some of the predictable plot points. I can’t credit the lack of chemistry between the two buddy cops and certainly not the boring and ugly orc makeup. So the movie fails as a minute-to-minute story of how the cops stumble over a magic wand which is this world’s equivalence of a weapon of mass destruction. Everybody wants it… the cops, the dirty cops, the human gangs, the orc gangs, the renegade elves, and the Feds. Only our heroes have it and have to keep it safe. So it’s a Macguffin wrapped in fantasy elements.
There’s some stuff to admire in the film but its overall story, dialog, and story beats are soggy and tedious. I can recommend it a bit for those who are into fantasy or urban fantasy or who just want to see Will Smith did his charisma thing. Or, hey, it’s on Netflix so odds are good you can give it a try and see if it bites. Maybe it’ll work for you.