Feminist, Fictionista, Foodie, Francophile

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Some dark thoughts on BRIGHT

I hated it.
I hated it so much I bailed out at the two-thirds mark and I NEVER do that.
Really, I loathed it. And I shouldn't have. I should have embraced it with the fervor of a lover long denied. Because I love urban fantasy. The first time I encountered it, in a mix of two of my favorite genres--mystery and fantasy--I felt like it had been invented JUST FOR ME. The first urban fantasy I can remember seeing on television was Cast a Deadly Spell that featured a noir-ish storyline with Fred Ward as a private detective who gets involved with mystic books and cults and a woman he saves from a dark fate.  I loved it.
And then there were television shows like Poltergeist Legacy and the Dresden Files, and Warehouse
Paul Blackwood as Harry Dresden
13
and Grimm. There was Supernatural. Oddly, I never got into Buffy the Vampire Slayer, possibly because I didn't like the few episodes I saw. But Buffy was the gold standard for UF television for a long time.

And now there's Bright. Here's what I liked:  Margaret Cho's in-your-face performance as a tough police sergeant. It was interesting casting and she was fine. I also liked Joel Edgerton as a gentle orc still trying to figure out how to deal with being "the first" of his kind. Although weirdly, it felt like he was channeling Dave Bautista's gentle giant character from Guardians of the Galaxy.

Here's what I hated about Bright:  Everything else. It looked cheap. It looked like it had been filmed in sepia tone. The sound was muddy. But really, what I hated most was the cynical take on the world. And it's encapsulated in a scene that happens very early on in the movie when Will Smith's wife screams at him to kill the fairy who's been getting into their bird feeder. He doesn't want to kill the fairy, but she insists, so in front of a group of neighborhood gangbangers, who are vastly amused, he beats the fairy to death with a broom. It's not subtle. (And neither is the subtext.  A cop beating a fairy to death? And just in case nobody GOT THE SUBTEXT, Will Smith has a line about "fairy lives don't matter today.)

I almost stopped watching right then and when I later mentioned it to friends on FB, a lot of people were in agreement. (One guy said he thought it was funny but I could not disagree  more.) Will Smith is a wonderful actor. Here he seems to be phoning it in. His character is incredibly unlikable.

The movie was pretty polarizing. I checked out the Rotten Tomatoes reviews (My favorite had the line, "Orcs are the new black") and can see how polarizing it's been.  And while as a UF fan I should be thrilled that there's now a sequel in the works, all I can think of are the many terrific UF series that would be great as television series or occasional movies. Max Landis, Bright's writer, may love the genre, but he relied on every tired trope and cliche in the business and delivered a heavy-handed social commentary along with it. I was sooooooo disappointed.



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