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“Bright” leaves viewers unsatisfied

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Netflix’s most recent original full-length feature, “Bright”, while entertaining, might have been a bit too ambitious for the streaming service. The film follows Will Smith as LAPD Officer Daryl Ward and his Orc partner Nick Jakoby (played by Joel Edgerton) as they navigate an alternate present-day filled with societal unrest. Despite the film being the most expensive Netflix production to date, the plot was still lacking in substance at times. In the end, the entirety of the story in “Bright” left the audience with more questions than answers.

Will Smith and Joel Edgerton star in this Netflix original directed by David Ayer.
(Photo courtesy of IMBD)

The first 30 minutes of the film felt so jam-packed with information and exposition I found myself feeling as though I was almost at the end of the movie when in actuality I had two-thirds of the film still ahead. With that said, within all of that exposition, there are still things that are mentioned later in the movie that seem completely random because they were never properly introduced or explained.

Throughout the two-hour film, backstory of the characters as well as of the society at large are brought up at length but never discussed in depth leaving the audience with a desire for much needed explanation. Even basic details relating to the cause of the immense unrest between the races is hardly covered. This, in turn, makes the often unpleasant interactions between characters seem unnecessary and unwarranted.

Frequent mentions of the dark and storied past of this world without proper clarification leaves the viewer feeling out of the loop. While the conflict within the film is resolved, the entire conflict leading up to everything that unfolds on screen remains a mystery.

In addition to that, “Bright” often feels as though it is trying too hard to speak to the current state of the real world. The strife between races in the movie often seems forced. In the opening title sequence, even before any characters are introduced, there are repeated shots of graffiti covered walls throughout LA stating things like “Fairy Lives Matter.” The blatant attempts at relevance is initially easy to overlook but after repeated occurrences of similar social commentary, it begins to take away from the plot. As the audience lives in a world where society’s issues are more prevalent in daily life than ever before, these obvious attempts to speak to a greater truth feels like unnecessary overkill.

With that said, one of the main redeeming qualities of “Bright” was the brilliant casting. Smith is consistently funny and once again proves his prowess as an action star. He navigates the action scenes and the diverse cast with expertise. The interactions between him and Edgerton are endlessly entertaining and their raport seems effortless due in large part to Edgerton. He plays Officer Jakoby perfectly, as the complex and almost universally disliked character. Jakoby is naive, well-intentioned and most importantly hilariously awkward which brings a sense of ease and breath of fresh air to an otherwise action-packed and incredibly violent movie.

Those behind “Bright” also excelled when it came to makeup and special effects. The film is visually spectacular at almost every turn. While the movie as a whole is incredibly violent, each scene is choreographed to perfection to maximize it’s visual appeal and execution. The transformation of Los Angeles to create the world of “Bright” with both run-down areas and others filled with luxury seamlessly transport the viewer into the fictional universe. Also, the makeup on the orcs leave them entirely unrecognizable making it much easier for the audience to believe the world the filmmakers have created.

All things considered, “Bright” seemed to bite off more than it could chew.  While the story in general was interesting and captiThe audience was left with a handful of unanswered questions, and the story left a lot of room for exploration. With news of a sequel being recently confirmed at Netflix, one can hope that the filmmakers take this opportunity to do the world they created, and the audience, justice.

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“Bright” leaves viewers unsatisfied