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Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.

A blog by Leon Oudejans

Bright (Netflix)

23 December 2017


Yesterday, Netflix released its $ 90 million blockbuster movie Bright, starring Will Smith as a Los Angeles police officer in a futuristic and dystopian setting. I gave the movie a rating of 4 out of 5 stars as I liked watching it. Is it flawless? No, far from it. Is it worth watching? Yes, unless you dislike watching this type of movies.

Bright features a society consisting of 3 races: elves, humans and Orcs. The racial distinctions between humans belong to the past, similar to what we see in Star Trek and Star Wars. However, the same racial comments of today are now projected on Orcs. Orcs are the new blacks. Elves are the new whites. The social status of humans is somewhere in between elves and Orcs.

The movie Bright offers no explanation why elves and Orcs even exist on Earth. There are some references about a war in Russia some 2,000 years ago. The Orcs chose the wrong (losing?) side. As a result, the Orcs became the scapegoat of society. Such references feel familiar.

The elves live in the futuristic side of Los Angeles while the Orcs live in a dystopian part of LA. The movies also shows some drive-through scenes in LA (ie, outside the studio). There has been no effort to conceal contemporary LA (eg, cars, houses). This creates an irritating hick-up in the Space Time dimension of the movie.

So far I have noticed 2 reviews of Bright (ie, Quartz, Vox). Both are (very) negative. The Quartz review makes an interesting comment: it feels as if Bright was based on Netflix’s algorithms. In this case, algorithms are based on the very many labels Netflix uses to describe a movie. Telegraph: “The genres, based on a complicated algorithm that uses reams of data about users’ viewing habits to recommend exactly what a particular user is into, number in the tens of thousands.”

To some extent, Bright indeed makes you feel – albeit subconsciously – that you are watching a mashup of movies like Bad Boys (eg, two arguing policemen, Will Smith), Harry Potter (eg, magic wands, The Dark Lord, his return), Robocop (eg, dystopian setting), and The Lord of the Rings (elves, Legolas). Feel free to add other examples.

The Vox review (“Netflix’s Bright, starring Will Smith, is a colossal waste of time”) is nonsense. I could claim that reading the Vox review is also a waste of time. That would also be nonsense. Either you like watching Bright or you dislike it. There is not much gray in between.

Luc Besson created an artificial world in the 2017 movie Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets. JK Rowling created a contemporary hybrid world with animals, creatures, humans and wizards (eg, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, Harry Potter).

Bright is also a hybrid using (i) contemporary (LA today), (ii) fantasy elements (eg, elves, fairies, Orcs), and (iii) Sci-Fi (eg, dystopian, futuristic) elements. The Space Time dimension of Bright is its major flaw. Otherwise, it’s fun to watch.

Bright (2017) – official trailer by Netflix


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