RATING: 3 out of 5
With a budget of $90 million, “Bright” starring Will Smith and Joel Edgerton is Netflix’s first real attempt at making a blockbuster movie. If after reading that sentence the first thought that came to your mind was “eh wala akong subscription sa Netflix e” gusto kong malaman kung anong ginawa mo nung 2017 pag nabobore ka at anong plano mo ngayong 2018 liban sa pag cross-stitch? Because there are only a few things in life that are better than Netflix.
A lot of reviews will have you believe that “Bright” is one of the worst movies of 2017. One critic even went so far to say that it’s the worst movie of last year. Now I don’t usually make a habit of maligning other reviews but that’s complete and total bullshit dahil walang mas malala sa “Transformers: The Last Knight” in terms of utter shittiness. (Feeling ko umiksi ang life expectancy ko pagkatapos kong mapanuod yung pelikulang yun.) Despite the somewhat convoluted plot, I actually found “Bright” to be funny and entertaining. It’s certainly one of the most original concepts we’ve seen from a blockbuster movie in quite a while.
Set in an alternate present-day, this action-thriller directed by David Ayer follows the story of two cops from very different backgrounds. We have Ward who is a human played by Will Smith, and Jakoby, an orc played by Joel Edgerton. As they go on their routine night patrol, they will have to battle both their own personal differences as well as an onslaught of enemies in order to protect a thought-to-be-forgotten relic, which in the wrong hands could destroy everything. So basically para siyang “Lord of the Rings” na hinaluan ng “Training Day” ni Denzel Washington.
The story is typical of what you’d expect from a Will Smith movie. He once again plays the role of the wise-cracking and cocky protagonist that he’s played multiple times already in the “Bad Boys” and “Men in Black” franchise. Naturally, he has to save the world yet again since yun naman lagi niyang ginagawa sa mga pelikula niya. Joel Edgerton delivers a pretty decent performance as the much-abused yet good-natured Jakoby. The chemistry and the dialogue between the two is entertaining enough to sustain the viewers throughout a somewhat convoluted plot. But I think “Bright” is an example of a movie wherein the idea behind the movie is actually greater than the movie itself.
Hindi ko akalain na a story about orcs and humans living in (dis)harmony in modern day Los Angeles was something that I wanted in my life but I actually came away from “Bright” wanting to see more of it. I liked the concept of an alternate modern-day reality where racism doesn’t have anything to do with the color of a man’s skin. They say nothing brings together people more than mutual hatred and in the movie’s case, it’s the hatred for orcs. (The orcs in “Bright” are depicted differently than what we’ve been accustomed to in pop culture. Dito para silang si Mike Tyson na nagpatato sa mukha kay Apo Whang Od kung nakainom siya.) And in “Bright”, human’s aren’t on top of the food chain kasi mas elite sa kanila ang mga elves. Pretty interesting so far, right?
Which brings me to where the movie falls short in my opinion. Ang daming bagay tungkol sa universe ng “Bright” na worth delving into but the movie sadly never does or doesn’t have time to. Aside from orcs and elves, there are fairies and other mythical creatures in this universe as well. How did that come about? Hindi ba ang astig nun? Shouldn’t we dedicate a few minutes of screen time explaining the universe that we’re living in?
What’s so great about fantasy worlds such as “Star Wars”, “The Lord of the Rings”, and “Game of Thrones” is that these worlds feel “lived in”. You get the feeling that outside of these characters that we’re seeing onscreen, there’s actually a living and breathing world filled with interesting characters. It doesn’t feel that way with “Bright” at all. There’s an awesome scene in the movie where we see a dragon gliding over the Los Angeles skyline and yet it’s never discussed anywhere else in the movie. Ang astig ng implications nun diba? Has North Korea weaponized dragons yet?! Sa US lang ba may orcs and elves o sa Pinas meron din? “Bakulaw” ba ang tawag natin sa orcs sa Pilipinas? How does religion work in a reality where orcs, humans, and elves coexist? How does inter-species sex work?
I suppose it’s hard to expect a 2-hour movie to be able to go into all that and you could argue that all these things aren’t discussed in “Star Wars” or “LoTR” as well. But that’s the Pandora’s Box you open when you decide to make a fantasy world with a contemporary setting. That’s why I’d like to see more of the “Bright” universe in the future. There’s just so many ideas to explore that the concept might have worked better if they made it into a TV series instead. Fortunately despite the bad reviews, Netflix is hell-bent on turning this into a franchise. I think they should. There’s certainly enough material to work with to make it successful despite having to see Will Smith save the world yet again for the nth f***ing time.
Bright is now streaming on Netflix.
All photos courtesy of James Gillham/Netflix.