Netflix’s original urban fantasy buddy-cop drama was just released on December 22, 2017, with a sequel already confirmed. The film stars Will Smith as a cop just returning to duty after recovering from a gunshot wound and Joel Edgerton as Smith’s partner (who happens to be an orc).
The most interesting thing about the movie is the world. Unlike many urban fantasies, magic is not a secret and humans are not the only race around. Orcs, dwarves, elves, and humans all coexist in a modern version of Earth, with a few fantastical elements thrown in. The setting is grounded, with magic being something commonly known by almost everyone but rarely found in society. Individuals capable of wielding magic wands are known as Brights. Anyone else who tries to touch a wand explodes from the magical power.
That said, interracial relations play just as much of a role as magic, if not more. Some 2000 years ago, orcs decided to side with the Dark Lord in an attempt to take over the world. They failed, and society still looks down on orcs in modern times (making Will Smith’s orc partner a source of strife in the police force). Some of the racism displayed in the movie is a bit heavy-handed with its parallels to the real world, but I thought it worked overall.
The plot kicks off when Will Smith and his partner investigate a crime scene, where they discover a magic wand. It’s capable of extreme power, and pretty much everyone is willing to kill for it. Worst of all, it might be able to summon the Dark Lord for the first time in thousands of years.
There wasn’t anything particularly unique about the plot. The action sequences were entertaining, the buddy-cop dynamic was enjoyable, and special effects were pretty great. While everything tied up nicely in the end, there were several plot threads left unresolved that will likely set the stage for the upcoming sequel.
Bright’s reception has been pretty divided so far. As of the time of writing this review, it scored a 27% from critics on Rotten Tomatoes, but the audience rating was 89%. For some reason, critics hate it and general viewers enjoy it.
Overall, Bright is a fun action movie with a fantasy setting unlike any other movie I’ve seen. It’s not perfect, but it is definitely fun.