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  Bright Orcward
Year: 2017
Director: David Ayer
Stars: Will Smith, Joel Edgerton, Noomi Rapace, Lucy Fry, Veronica Ngo, Jay Hernandez, Edgar Ramírez, Ike Barinholtz, Andrea Navedo, Dawn Olivieri, Chelsea Rendon, Brad William Henke, Nadia Gray, Happy Anderson, Nea Dune, Kenneth Choi, Enrique Murciano
Genre: Action, Thriller, FantasyBuy from Amazon
Rating:  4 (from 1 vote)
Review: This is not quite the world as we know it, for it takes place two thousand years after the Dark Lord was vanquished and the world was left to get along with the humans, elves, orcs and so on not entirely feeling comfortable in one another's company. Which takes us to the present day when where Los Angeles is gripped with a brewing gang war thanks to the belief in the Dark Lord's imminent return, leading the orcs and elves to gear up for the resurgence of magic to the world, with all the mayhem that will bring. Two cops, Daryl Ward (Will Smith) and Nick Jakoby (Joel Edgerton) must negotiate this cityscape which will be controversial, for Nick is the first orc policeman with the L.A.P.D. and not everyone is happy...

Well, not anyone is happy, really, least of all Ward as he is returning to work after being shot in the chest in the street; he had his body armour on, but what rankles was that Jakoby failed to catch the suspect after he gave chase, which could be a reason to kick him off the force if some have their way. You get the idea, it was Alien Nation crossed with The Lord of the Rings, and while one of those things was very good and the other wasn't, alas Bright opted to go for the not very good option and half-heartedly explore the concept of racism before deciding that was too big a subject and ditched it in the second half in favour of too much shouting, a blaring score by David Sardy, and the majority of the cast pointing guns at one another.

The critics were far from enthused, but this was an attempt by Netflix to break into the blockbuster market with a reputedly ninety-million-dollar budget, not that you could really see where that went as either the streaming company were making money hand over fist and could afford to spend it like water, or were taking a huge gamble on their being an audience for a typical David Ayer-directed cop drama invaded by Tolkien's fantasy races. It was high concept, screenwriter Max Landis claiming he had penned the script exclusively for Ayer to direct, and seeing as how he was the exponent of the gritty and macho, you might have anticipated a new hybrid for the fantasy genre that could have been provocative.

What you actually got was a sort of macho nerdery where the interests of your average Dungeons & Dragons player could feel as if they were competing in some strenuous activity, the equivalent of a heavyweight boxing match with all the bragging rights of hyper masculinity that could be claimed for it. If you were indeed a nerd whose dearest wish was for your pop culture interests to be taken as seriously as mountain climbing or American football, or more likely WWE, then you possibly would have got something out of Bright, but everyone else who preferred their escapism to be a lot less hard work was not going to find it easily digestible. Especially as it descended into its own over-involved mythos rather quickly, after some broad humour at the expense of fairies, which grew very tiresome if you couldn't be arsed with it.

Was there any point in being invested in Bright? A sequel had been announced before the film had been released, so if you found yourself captivated you could be beside yourself knowing more of the same was on the way, but if you found this offputting in its determination to prove itself then you likely would not be too bothered if you never heard of it again. Smith's casting was certainly a coup, and possibly where a bundle of that ninety-million went, but he was just doing his usual hero act with added swearing (because real men think it's clever to swear), and Edgerton's nice guy orc was so meek and weak that you wondered what had attracted him to police work in the first place. There was a plot about getting hold of a wand that could make wishes come true, an elf on the run called Tikka (yes, she was chicken), and Noomi Rapace as the baddie which offered the excuse for these hardmen to beat up a woman, but my goodness it got tedious well before the end. Maybe an Alien Nation-style uninspiring TV show follow-up was its proper fate.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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