Sunday, December 24, 2017

The Concept of 'Bright' Is Superior to Its Execution; It's Mightily Enjoyable Regardless

In a nutshell, Bright is an attempt to mesh Lord of the Rings with End of Watch.  Set in Los Angeles – in an alternate modern world very much like our own but with fantasy creatures also existing since the beginning of time – the film follows two police officers, a human named Daryl Ward (Will Smith) and an orc named Nick Jacoby (Joel Edgerton), whose routine night patrol erupts into complete mayhem after they encounter an elf named Tikka (Lucy Fry), who is in possession of a magical wand.  In order to survive the night, they must set aside their personal differences as various parties keen of getting hold of the wand – including corrupt cops; Latino gang members; orc gang members; the Feds; and a cult of renegade, radical elves intent on resurrecting an ancient evil, led by the elf Leilah (Noomi Rapace) – hunt them down.

I’ve encountered the tropes used in this film multitude of times before.  But separately, in their respective genres of origin.  Somehow, combining them generates fresh results.  Apparently, seeing high fantasy elements play out in an urban crime narrative (or is it the other way the around?) make them appear in a more original and newly interesting light.
Undoubtedly, the concept is much better than the execution.  It’s not that the execution is bad.  There’s some choppiness, but the execution is solid enough.  I enjoyed the plot that came out of it.  However, the concept – the resulting mythology and worldbuilding – is simply much more fascinating.

It also makes an attempt to be social commentary about race and status.  It reminds me somewhat of what Zootopia tried to accomplish.  I’m not quite sure though if the metaphors and subtexts work substantially to offer thought-provoking insights.  But within the context of its mythology and ethos, all the racial profiling and social hierarchy that have come about in its world add further layers of sophistication to its overall realization.
Indeed, Bright has an intriguing world – familiar yet unique.  And it’s certainly ripe for a sequel.

A single film is simply incapable of fleshing this world out as much as I wanted.  Hence, I would be absolutely disappointed if this won’t be an eventual movie series.  I want to see more how this world is similar and different from our own.

The film mostly features just human, orc, and elf characters.  A centaur cop is shown in one or two scenes.  Dwarfs are mentioned during conversations.  Fairies and dragons are seen to be flying around.  And it’s clearly established that there are at least “Nine Races” existing in this world.  Definitely, there’s more of the Bright universe to be explored.
Bright is being panned by most critics.  But me?  I thought it was mightily enjoyable.  Maybe there are indeed genuinely off-putting problems with it – if there are, I didn’t notice or I didn’t find them problematic at all.  Regardless of any flaws, the potential of its rich world and the creative details that are being revealed as the story progresses should be enough to keep it an enthralling watch.  At least, that’s how it worked for me.

Hopefully, all this negative critical reception won’t hinder a much-needed follow-up.

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