I happened to check out the new Netflix movie Bright today, and was pleasantly surprised! An Urban Fantasy buddy cop flick about a human/orc cop duo in an alternate LA, it was a solid, if flawed series with great characters and potential for a kickass sequel. Below is a “quick n’ dirty” review of the film, though I may return for a proper one later. Debating whether or not to watch the Will Smith/Orc Buddy Cop movie? Here’s my 2 cents on why you should give it a go!
This is one of those pleasant film surprises that comes around every once in a blue moon. Like, you heard your friends talk about a movie where a stoner looses his rug and you think, “oh well, that sounds like crap.” And then surprise! It’s The Big Lewboski and it’s just kind of weirdly, inexplicably awesome. I mean, it shouldn’t work, and yet somehow…it just does. And you just roll with it because it’s that fun.
That’s kind of the way I feel about Bright. It’s a really weird concept, like something you’d see as a gag in The Simpsons. “Hey, Will Smith is in a buddy cop movie and his partner’s an Orc!” Crazy, right? And yet I found it not only liked it, but really liked it. I mean it’s not Empire Strikes Back or Lawrence of Arabia, but it was fun, dang it.
Will Smith is great in this. But the runaway star of this thing is Jakoby the Orc. They really do a great job of making him feel lovably awkward, while at the same time infusing him with a sense of pathos. You just feel sorry for the poor guy and want him to succeed. And contrary to what others have been saying, I honestly don’t think Will Smith just pulled a standard Will Smith in this role. He has kind of a shockingly dark edge to his character at times, and you really get the sense that he’s been through the ringer during this job. He doesn’t just feel like a re-skin of Jim West or Agent J. There’s hints of it, and a few Smithy one-liners, but he otherwise sells the role fairly well.
Worldbuilding-wise, this is SUPERB. I generally hate “urban fantasy” because it tends to boil down to “guy/gal in leather jacket fights horror movie monsters and occult stuff is added.” But this? You got dragons, centaurs. orcs, elves, swords, prophecies…the whole nine yards. And this alternate earth really does feel like a legit setting. Honestly got HUGE Sahdowrun vibes from the whole thing. It’s one Blade Runner-esque timeskip away from being a legit SR movie. I even played the video game by Harebrained Schemes, and it does in fact, have an eerily similar vibe at times. I want to see more of the world, learn about the villainous Inferni organization (which the film humorously points out are so bad, they literally curb-stomped the friggin’ Illuminati) and see more “Brights” (aka wizards) in action.
The makeup and sets are FANTASTIC. The Orcs look and feel realistic, the elves look friggin’ CREEPY (fitting, because they’re usually villains) and the magic is flashy, explosive and kick-ass. There’s one god-awful CGI slow-mo scene but beyond that, everything looked and sounded great.
The truly bad stuff is fairly minimal. Most of the humor lands pretty well, but when it doesn’t it’s painfully cringey. Some of the scenes with elves doing karate filps and knifing people are bad-ass at first, but there’s a scene at a gas station where it becomes almost cartoony. And the second half, as stated above, does drag on on a bit at times.
Overall though, this is a solid fantasy flick, better than it has any right to be. I honestly thought the Will Smith Orc Cop movie was going to bomb, but it seems I was wrong. In fact, it kind of rocks. A lot.
Honestly not sure why critics are ripping it to shreds, but hey. Different strokes and all that. Pretty much everyone on social media seems to love it, so it seems to be somewhat of a cult hit. Eagerly awaiting the sequel, and was a fun and weird addition to my Christmas.
Honestly, this was a REALLY solid movie. Gets a bit awkward at points during the second act, but pulls it off where it counts. If I had to grade it, I’d say it’s a 7.5 out of 10 Magic Wands.