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This year Netflix released Bright, a fantasy cop movie starring Will Smith and Joel Edgerton, the latter playing an Orc of all things. Directed by David Ayer, the film quickly became a popular target for everyone to trash and make fun of.

Set in an alternate present where elves, fairies and other creatures live side-by-side, the film sees human cop Daryl Ward (Smith) reluctantly partner up with an Orc as they spend a whole night dealing with dirty cops, protecting a powerful magic wand and running away from the likes of evil elves, Mexican gangsters, Orcs and the Feds. It's been compared to Alien Nation and, indeed, there are obvious similarities but the film is so derivative that it somehow comes back around to feeling rather original and fresh. There's definitely a heavy-handed message about racism in there that, while relevant, is hard to take completely seriously when everyone's talking about magic wands the whole time. Bright wants to be a lot of things but it never commits to any of it fully: one second it's a buddy comedy, the next it's a modern-day Lord Of The Rings, then it's another End Of Watch, then it's like an even sillier version of District 9. The film does some of each of those ideas well but it unfortunately fails to make all of it work together. You can tell there's a really interesting, quite good blockbuster in there somewhere but it can never quite swim to the surface.

There's actually a lot to like about this movie and, although it is admittedly fun to riff on its goofier aspects, it doesn't get nearly enough credit for at least trying something cool. This world we're thrown into without much explanation is an interesting one and, even if you think it's silly (which it is), it's hard to deny that spending some time in a dystopian Tolkienopolis where dragons and centaurs casually show up like it's no big deal is kind of worth it. It's fun to imagine what a Middle Earth-type setting would look like in present day and Ayer never lets that world get too overwhelming by keeping the focus on the characters and their story. The main villain, a rogue elf called Leilah, is played by an intimidating Noomi Rapace and she does a good job, as do the two leads with Will Smith bringing his usual charm and charisma to the table while Joel Edgerton makes his Orc instantly likeable. Visually, the film looks great and its action sequences are genuinely well done. Where Bright really drops the ball is in its redundant third act as all the main characters are made to retrace their steps and fight it out in an unimpressive setting we've seen before.

It's easy to poke fun at such a silly premise and Bright does deserve some of that backlash. It isn't really a bad film, however, as it should keep you entertained throughout, even during its disappointing conclusion. A bigger, better ending could have elevated this one to cult status but, as it stands, it's a flawed, if amusing fantasy blockbuster, nothing more.


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