Who called it Bright and not The Fellowship of the Dim?
On paper, Max Landis’ script is a Lord of the Rings fanatic’s wet dream come true. Onscreen, it makes you wonder what sort of dark magic persuaded Netflix to not only invest 90 million USD in making it but also agreeing to a sequel.
Class issues between former allies – the humans and the Elves – and racial conflict between the Orcs and everyone else, feels like the sound premise for a fantasy film, doesn’t it? Unfortunately, Bright‘s direction, screenplay, and general juvenile banter between the two leads – Will Smith and Joel Edgerton – makes it feel like a parody of what *could* have been a fantastic spin-off.
The film opens with a glimpse into modern day Los Angeles, peppered with angsty graffiti that is home to the Elves, humans and the Orcs.
Approximately 2,000 years ago the Orcs sided with the Dark Lord, and the descendants of the nine realms have not forgotten. The Orcs live in a disreputable part of the town, are hot-headed criminals and are generally viewed with prejudice. Racial profiling, police brutality – the film briefly touches upon several issues without actually taking things to a conclusion.
We are introduced to the main leads, Smith and Edgerton, the latter playing LAPD’s only Orc policeman and is, therefore, a source of ridicule both with the fraternity and outside. Policemen do not trust him, and his ‘clan’ (other Orcs) dislike him for joining the enemy camp. Unfortunately, just like the plot of the film, Ayer does not explore the complexity of a partnership between a human and an Orc.
In the midst of all the racial drama, we’re suddenly thrown into the midst of a conspiracy to bring back
Sauron the Dark Lord. The only ones who can stop that from happening are our two heroes and an Elf, unfortunately, named Tikka.
Will Smith’s rendition of a foul-mouthed LAPD cop isn’t anything we haven’t seen before. He looks like he’s still suffering from the existential crisis he was under the spell of while filming Independence Day. The only difference? Rather disconcerting facial hair. Joel Edgerton, on the other hand, is not only unrecognisable under that Orc makeup, but his polite, naive, earnest-to-a-fault portrayal of a character who faces hostility from literally everyone, is far the only thing shining bright in this film.
Oh, and important PSA: Whoever came up with the ‘Fairy Lives Don’t Matter’ dialogue needs to retire from showbiz. Pronto.