Movie Review: Bright
When I first heard of Netflix’s original big budget movie Bright, I heard about it through terrible press and hilarious opinions about how awful the entire production seemed to be. Not one to miss an opportunity to nitpick at big budget productions, my roommate and I giggled with anticipation at the hate-watching that was about to happen as we powered on our Apple TV to tune in on our snowy day off from work.
The first 10 minutes were a bit heavy-handed. We commented on the ridiculous over-use of graffiti to portray a gritty fantasy/human city at unrest. We rolled our eyes at how hard the production was working to introduce us into this world. The use of rock music and gritty landscapes seemed like a lazy way to introduce us to the story. The first two scenes were borderline cringe-worthy, with Will Smith and his wife, played by Dawn Olivieri, sincerely trying and falling short of playing a believable married couple in a financially stressed yet loving relationship.
Then something happened. Our comments got fewer and fewer. Our giggles subsided. I started to get....invested. From the second Joel Edgerton entered the screen, we get the first glimpse of chemistry between our actors. His dialogue throughout the movie with Smith is a refreshing blend of cop talk, goofball dad jokes, sentimental confessions and racial recognition. I loved their back and forth. It seemed to take Will Smith awhile to ease into his role, but his chemistry with Edgerton seemed to help him find his footing, and after about 30 minutes he had built a dynamic character torn between doing the right thing and, at times, literally surviving. Edgerton’s performance was particularly excellent. Despite all the heavy makeup he evoked empathy as an Orc ostracized from his own race for prioritizing his career, and from his career because of his race.
As someone who passionately plays Dungeons and Dragons and loves all things Game of Thrones, I loved that there was little explanation into what fantasy creatures were, where they came from, and how this world came to be. Aside from the obvious world building at the beginning, the movie gave you permission to just go along for the ride. It’s hard to make an audience suspend their belief when you’re dealing with fantasy, but this movie tricked me into being invested thanks to a script that didn’t feel the need to bog the story down with extraneous exposition. I found myself more invested in the intensity of the cop drama rather than the potential silliness of seeing a Centaur as part of the police force.
Bright is about more than just racism. It’s about corruption, crime, and heart. In the whirlwind of negative press, let me be one shining voice that says Bright is more than worth a watch on a snow day inside.