HomeMoviesBright: A Sign of Impending Doom for Netflix

Bright: A Sign of Impending Doom for Netflix

Bright Netflix
Photo Credit: Netflix/Matt Kennedy

Bright Plot Summary:

LA police officer Daryl Ward (Will Smith) lives in a world where fantasy races coexist with humans. While life is already tough, things get dangerous when Daryl and his orc parter, Nick (Joel Edgerton), discover a cult’s plan to resurrect an ancient evil.

Netflix is in trouble.

Earlier this year, Disney pulled out of their partnership to create its own family friendly streaming service. In addition, Disney announced it’s buying 21st Century Fox and increasing its ownership share of Hulu, Netflix’s growing competitor, to 60 percent. While Hulu and Disney’s catalog of movies and shows is booming, Netflix’s is shrinking. It stands to lose some, if not all, of its Disney-owned properties, including its popular Marvel shows and movies. It also doesn’t help that Netflix has raised its prices.

Bright, the $90 million collaboration between director David Ayer, screenwriter Max Landis, and star Will Smith, is Netflix’s biggest gamble yet. Aside from Beasts of No Nation, Netflix’s original movies have been nowhere as well received as its shows. Those shows are going to dry up, with House of Cards ending next year and Stranger Things supposedly wrapping up after its fourth season. Plainly put, Netflix seriously needs a win.

I normally don’t read other people’s reviews before I write my own, but I just so happened to see that critics were clobbering Bright. I feel it’s important to address because some of the criticism focuses on race. The main issue here is that if the existence of fantasy races is a direct metaphor for race in 21st century America, it makes minorities look bad. While Nick is a good cop and Daryl is black, most orcs are thugs greatly resembling black gang members. Throw into the mix the Latino gang chasing the duo and you’ve got a powder keg for controversy. The Trigger Warning Entertainment logo at the beginning only makes things worse.

I haven’t read any interviews, so I’m unsure whether Bright is in fact supposed to be a direct metaphor or whether Landis simply takes inspiration from real life race relations. A one-to-one allegory doesn’t frame the issue in a way that provides new insights. If it’s not a straight allegory and supposed to be its own world, the script still undercooks the race elements by focusing too much on action.

I’m pumping the breaks on the movie’s faults, though. There are some good elements. It’s impossible to dislike Will Smith, unless the filmmakers actively try to make you do so. As for Edgerton, he’s phenomenal. I truly bought that he was an orc. Sure, the makeup does a lot of the job, but his voice goes a long way. Nick is also the most sympathetic and interesting character too, as he’s a walking contradiction. He looks like a monster but he’s friendly; he’s a cop loyal to justice, not his fellow orcs.

There are a few other reasons why this movie didn’t do well with critics. The plot is admittedly pretty predictable and has a couple holes. And while the movie is under two hours, it’s still 15-20 minutes too long. It’s a classic mistake of valuing quantity over quality.

The saddest possibility, however, is we live in a culture of extremes. Everyone is on edge this year and I understand how a movie that mishandles race would set people off. But when I see reviewers give this movie 0 Stars and F grades, I wonder if clickbait has become subconsciously ingrained in our writing mindsets. I give most things I review a 6 or 6.5 out of 10, which I label as Average. But what do you think is going to get the most traffic, an article talking about a mediocre movie or one that says it’s the worst movie of the year? Do none of the effects, makeup, performances, etc. deserve a single star?

Maybe I’m going too easy on this movie. Maybe I haven’t seen enough buddy cop movies to compare it to. I just don’t think, beyond fumbling the race theme, that Bright is that bad. I mean, it’s two hours and on Netflix. You might as well watch it.

Rating: 6.5 out of 10 (Average)

Aaron Sarnecky
Aaron Sarnecky
Aaron Sarnecky is a Senior Writer and Former TV Editor for The Pop Break. He is a TV/Film grad of Rowan University and the fraternal twin of Senior Columnist Josh Sarnecky. The two record retrospective podcasts together. Aaron probably remembers that canceled show you forgot existed.


Comments are closed.

Most Recent

Stay Connected