In a modern world where fantasy creatures have always existed alongside man you would think that our pop culture and historical touchstones would be different. You might want to create a world where everything was different, where the Alamo didn’t happen or ‘Shrek’ was never a movie.
Netflix Original Movie ‘Bright’ did not go that route. By keeping the human world essentially as we know it and mingling in the orcs, fairies, elves, and other mystical creatures into a world approximately our own ‘Bright’ draws the viewer in. For me it was easier to just suspend disbelief and accept that this was ‘a world next door’ to our own rather than needing to ingest a long backstory. By making the origin concept as simple as ‘just like today but with fantasy creatures… roll with it’ ‘Bright’ was able to skip right into the story.
That story is a classic and simple ‘buddy cop’ story, to be sure. If someone described it as ‘’Lethal Weapon’ but with an orc… and he’s the straight-laced one… what?’ they wouldn’t be too far from the mark. The fantasy element, a wand, acts as a McGuffin as much as ‘some new super drug’ or ‘dump trucks full of gold bars’ or ‘crime bosses being broken out of jail’ do in any cop movie. The backdrop is novel and the McGuffin clearly novel but, in the end ‘Bright’ is nothing more than a very well executed and entertaining cop movie.
‘Nothing more than…’ isn’t an insult here. Combining genres can be a dangerous endeavor… one does not simply walk into ‘Bladerunner’ (noir and high concept near future sci-fi). ‘Bright’ is not ‘Bladerunner’… ‘Bright’ is a fun movie to throw on, watch, and maybe have on in the background as you do some things maybe, similar to ‘Lethal Weapon’ or ‘Demolition Man’; wonderful and novel and perhaps entrancing the first time and just completely solid after that. I feel similarly about Die Hard’s 1, 3, and 4… 2 is just not my jam.
In the end, I recommend giving ‘Bright’ a watch if either high concept fantasy, ‘Lord of the Rings’, low budget but fun fantasy, ‘In the Name of the King’, or buddy cop movies, ‘Lethal Weapon’ or ‘Rush Hour’, are in your list of go to, fun to watch movies. Even if they aren’t the action scenes are well executed and may draw you in.
If you’re looking for something ‘serious’ ‘Dredd’ might be a better bet, and if you were looking for something ‘light’ the previously mentioned ‘Demolition Man’ might do you better. For me, in terms of ‘feel’ and ‘the mood I’d need to be in to watch this and pay full attention’ I’d have to be feeling like ‘The Fifth Element’ or ‘Stargate’ would fill the need, if that helps you decide whether to watch or not.