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Bright Netflix review - By David Castro

Will Smith’s newest blockbuster, though not released in the summer, is the urban fantasy film Bright, set in an alternate reality Los Angeles. Multiple fantasy races share the Earth with humanity, mostly elves and orcs with the odd faerie, but sharp eyed viewers also might catch a dragon and centaur in two scenes, the mention of dwarves, and an unknown two others that round out the ‘nine races’ that once came together to destroy a Dark Lord two thousand years ago. In Bright, Smith is a LAPD officer, whose partner is Nick Jakoby, America’s first orc police officer.

While a beautifully shot movie with an amazing soundtrack, that is about the only thing Bright has going for it. Outside of what I believe to be ad libs from Smith, the movie is horribly written and tone deaf for the story it wants to tell. It wants to be about race, but is lazy about it, taking the easy fantasy route of making human racism based on species, not skin color, and replacing people of color with orcs, entitled whites with elves, with humans taking the role of the middle class. The streets of LA are filled with Orc and brown human gangsters, while the elves have a completely walled off section of town, resplendent with high class shopping and armed guards.

While there is a place for this sort of fantasy, using Tolkien-esque races to replicate real world troubles, when you have an black member of the LAPD kill a faerie with a stick after saying “faerie lives don’t matter today”; or when you have multiple scenes of police abusing orcs while Smith’s character verbal berates his partner, asking if he is a cop or an orc first, it’s completely tone deaf, and makes it certain than the writers of this have no experience with the moral they want their story to have.

But beyond that, the story is clearly just the opening chapter to whatever comes next. A sequel was green lit by Netflix before the film premiered on the streaming service, and if the overarching story moves along with the same speed that it did in Bright, they might need at least another movie after that to get to the end of their prophecy storyline. I don’t know about the rest of you, but I hate stories that require a sequel to finish.

All in all, if you don’t look under the hood too much, Bright is enjoyable enough. It’s effects, a wonderful mix of computer generated and practical, are stunning, and the world, the viewer is dropped into it with very little explanation, is really interesting. But it had deeper things to say with it’s story, and at best it is hamfisted, at worst completely tone deaf. One can only hope that the writers of the sequel hear this, and their next offering can be better. There is an audience for this sort of story, with urban fantasy titles and tabletop games gaining popularity, it would be a shame that Hollywood’s first real foray into the genre also be their last.

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