Netflix’s Bright Is a Will Smith Action Flick, and Nothing More

Netflix's Bright Is a Will Smith Action Flick, and Nothing More

Will Smith and Joel Edgerton in a still from Netflix’s Bright


  • Bright hits Netflix on December 22
  • The film stars Will Smith, Joel Edgerton
  • David Ayer (Suicide Squad) is the director

Netflix has made a name for itself in the television department over the last few years, thanks to the likes of Stranger Things, BoJack Horseman, and the various Marvelshows. But it doesn’t have that kind of credibility on the movies front yet, where it’s fighting studios with much deeper pockets, and also always pushes for a same-day release on its platform as in theatres. 2017 has been a big year for Netflix though, with the Cannes-premiere of Korean adventure Okja, the major deal for Martin Scorsese’s The Irishman, and now the release of its most expensive film to date, Bright.

The film takes place in an alternate reality where humans, orcs, elves, and fairies have lived beside each other since the beginning of time. Will Smith stars as a human LAPD cop named Ward, who’s been reluctantly paired with an orc cop named Jakoby, played by Joel Edgerton, due to a diversity hire programme initiated by the department. This bit is slightly reminiscent of Zootopia’s opening, which also features a diversity-hire police officer, and both films talk about society judging individuals on their appearances, rather than seeing them for who they really are.

But following two cops is also reminiscent of most films written and/or directed by David Ayer – he’s best known as the man behind last year’s dumpster-fire Suicide Squad (which also starred Smith) – whose background as a naval officer has seen him pen or helm several movies about law officers, starting with his Hollywood-breakout Training Day in 2001, lean years in between that gave us Dark Blue, S.W.A.T. (both in 2003), and Street Kings (2008), followed by his most critically-acclaimed venture, End of Watch, in 2012. Each of those films have also incorporated street gangs, morally dubious cops, and flashy gun violence.

The first official trailer for Netflix’s Bright

Bright is similar in that regard, embedding real-world LA crime problems and the distrust of police into its narrative, but it’s also got fantasy boots to fill. That means weaving in lore about an almost mythical past that saw humans, orcs and elves at each other’s throats two millennia ago, which involved a Dark Lord, powerful beings, and magical items. The plot riffs on Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter in a foregrounding way, just enough to convince you that stranger things have happened, but is still restricted to give Smith’s character – a human – a fighting chance.

The premise of Bright centres on a young elf named Tikka (Lucy Fry), one of a select titular few who has the ability to hold and use a magic wand – an object that can grant wishes, (seemingly) has the power of a nuclear weapon, and kills any non-Bright who holds it – and ends up in the custody of Ward and Jakoby after they are dispatched to an address. Ward’s call for backup from his precinct doesn’t go as planned, and he’s forced to go on the run with Jakoby and Tikka to keep the wand away from the hands of literally everyone: corrupt cops, street thugs, and criminal organisations.

That gives Ayer the licence to stage his film like a video game, comprising of ridiculous shootout routines one after the another where the fleeing trio is always under-powered, be it a car chase, bar evacuation, dance club hold-up, gas station face-off, or a fist-fight in an apartment. Through it all, the film explores the budding friendship between Ward and Jaokoby, spliced with gallows-type humour – Smith is natural at infusing comedy into the direst of moments, and he keeps denying that they’re becoming friends – and intercut with scenes that develop Bright’s fantasy world.

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Noomia Rapace as Leilah in a still from Netflix’s Bright
Photo Credit: Matt Kennedy/Netflix

That involves introducing Noomi Rapace as Leilah, a dark elf who is part of an Illuminati-type group that’s trying to bring back a Dark Lord, alongside some of her expert close-quarters combat followers, plus two detectives who work for the FBI’s magic division, an elf (Édgar Ramírez) and a human (Ike Barinholtz), who are supposed to be in-charge of any wand-related troubles. The latter two are there to service the lore and hence don’t feature much, but even though Rapace is supposed to be the main villain, she’s hardly part of the film.

Bright’s choice to feature Ward as the chief protagonist and keep Jakoby as his sidekick in-training is also misguided. Zootopia worked precisely because it chose to stick with the diversity hire, the one’s who discriminated against. Jakoby is hated by his own kind because he’s not Blooded – having a pair of lower jaw teeth that jut out like fangs – and works with humans in the police force. Orcs look down on him, and humans revile him for belonging to another side, assuming he’s orc first and cop second.

Bright instead follows his slightly specist partner, Smith’s Ward. He isn’t as open about his distaste for working with an orc unlike some of his co-workers, but that doesn’t mean Ward doesn’t repeatedly try to get rid of Jakoby in the early going. Ward and Jakoby’s relationship is also tainted by an earlier event, and the film would benefit if it gave more emphasis to Edgerton’s orc. That would allow the film to be more powerful in what it’s trying to convey, but Bright fails to understand that.

One big obvious reason would be Smith’s casting, who is a much more recognisable star. Edgerton has as much screen presence as Smith, but Jakoby doesn’t get the necessary build up moments that help you connect and relate with the character. Those are reserved for Ward, whose family and background situation is given ample time in the opening minutes.

bright netflix edgerton fry smith Bright Netflix

Joel Edgerton as Jakoby, Lucy Fry as Tikka, and Will Smith as Ward in a still from Netflix’s Bright
Photo Credit: Matt Kennedy/Netflix

The film also grapples with a lot of social themes, which aren’t really addressed. There are multiple parallels and allegories here, but in many ways, the problems faced by African-Americans today have been grafted onto orcs. They have it much worse in the film in many ways, being openly reviled in a way that wouldn’t fly in our version of 2017. At the same time, the film’s actual African-Americans don’t seem to have it any better than our reality, implying that humans have kept themselves divided through the ages, even while living alongside two other sentient species on Earth.

Mistrust, class struggles, and social mobility appear to be important themes for Bright in the early going, and it indulges the idea of exploring the symptoms and consequences of that for the first half hour. But it eventually gives that up, and turns into a Will Smith-movie, which is to say a generic guns-blazing action thriller. Bright could make for a fascinating Netflix TV series if it was more interested and serious about its themes, but Ayer doesn’t seem to have those ambitions. It also doesn’t help that his vision for gun violence resembles that of a 7-year-old, with characters needlessly emptying entire cartridges as scare tactics, causing more pain for the set designer than our protagonists.

After an opening half-hour that gave us hope that the film wouldn’t descend into a bullet-a-minute adventure unlike some of Ayer’s previous dubious work – the posters designed by Netflix are putting Suicide Squad front and centre, which is hilarious and sad because it depletes confidence, instead of inspiring any – Bright turns into a chase story that keeps throwing new unimaginative problems at our heroes, and never bothers to deepen any of its themes and allegories.

It’s perfectly happy in being a big budgeted action flick – Netflix reportedly spent $90 million (about Rs. 577 crore) to produce it – but it doesn’t have the goofy swagger of Men in Black, nor the grittiness of End of Watch, and ends up just wallowing without saying much.


Education official says industrial action harms education

Gavin Boyd

Northern Ireland’s top education official has accused teachers of harming children’s education by taking industrial action.

In a strongly worded letter to all teachers, Gavin Boyd also said they got better pay than their counterparts in England and Wales.

Teaching unions are refusing to co-operate with school inspections in a dispute over pay and workload.

Some are also taking occasional strike action.

The National Association of Schoolmasters and Women Teachers (NASUWT) has reacted angrily to Mr Boyd’s letter, accusing him of “fake news”.

Mr Boyd is chief executive of the Education Authority and represents the teaching employers in negotiations over the current pay dispute.

He wrote that the industrial action was “seriously affecting the education of children and young people” and “the effective operation of schools”.

‘Compares favourably’

School childrenImage copyrightGETTY IMAGES
Image captionHe said teachers had been “confused by misinformation” on a number of issues

He also said teachers had been “confused by misinformation” on a number of issues.

“The average teacher’s pay in Northern Ireland is just over £40,000 per annum,” he added.

“This compares very favourably with other graduate professions locally and is actually higher than the average teacher’s pay in England and Wales.”

He said that teaching unions had rejected an overall offer of 2.5% on pay in 2015/16.

“There have been no reductions in teacher’s pay,” he said.

Mr Boyd conceded that national insurance and pension contributions had risen, but said these were “part of a wider government strategy to ensure public sector pensions remain affordable and sustainable”.

“Public sector pensions remain attractive and in general offer much better terms than those available in the private sector.”


However, the NASUWT’s general secretary Chris Keates said his letter would infuriate teachers.

“Teachers will not be persuaded or intimidated by the fake news presented in the letter,” she said.

“The value of teachers’ pay has fallen by around 20% since 2010.

chris keates
Image captionThe NASUWT’s general secretary, Chris Keates, said his letter would infuriate teachers

“The employers should start to devote more of their time to addressing the genuine concerns of teachers rather than peddling misinformation.”

In a related development, the Irish National Teachers’ Organisation (INTO) has accused the Department of Education of “attempts at bullying” by writing to a Catholic archbishop about the ongoing industrial action.

‘Utter nonsense’

In a letter to members, INTO said that the Department of Education’s permanent secretary Derek Baker had written to Archbishop Eamon Martin.

They said Mr Baker had requested that Archbishop Martin ensure that school governors co-operate with school inspections.

“Attempts at bullying, such as this, should be rejected as an unsubtle attempt to bring the action to an end,” they wrote.

However, in a statement to the BBC, the Department of Education responded by describing the claim as “utter nonsense”.

“The letter focuses exclusively on the statutory duty placed on governors in respect of safeguarding and promoting the welfare of pupils and seeks their cooperation with the ETI specifically in respect of child protection and safeguarding,” they said.

“The suggestion that the department’s letter amounts to bullying is utter nonsense”.


Playing Action Video Games May Boost Driving Skills: Study

Playing Action Video Games May Boost Driving Skills: Study

Playing action-based video games may boost the players’ ability to coordinate visual information with their motor control – a skill critical to many real-world behaviours including driving, says new research.

The findings showed that playing some types of video games can confer benefits for specific visual abilities such as sensitivity to contrast and visuo-spatial attention.

“The research shows that playing easily accessible action video games can be a cost-effective tool to help people improve essential visuomotor-control skills used for driving,” said lead researcher Li Li, Associate Professor at New York University in Shanghai, China.

Experienced action gamers showed much greater precision in keeping to their lane and showed less deviation from centre in the face of increasing headwinds, when compared to the participants with little to no action video game experience.

To establish a causal link between action video games and visuomotor control skills, the team recruited participants who had no action video gaming experience to take part in a training study.

They then compared the visuomotor abilities of players who had played at least 5 hours per week over the previous 6 months to participants who had negligible action video game experience.

The participants were randomly assigned to either an action video game group or a control group, and they completed a total of 10 1-hour training sessions.

The data showed that playing “Mario Kart,” a fast-paced action video game, improved participants’ visuomotor control skills on the target dot task after five hours of training.

Those who played “Roller Coaster Tycoon”, a non-action strategy game, showed no such improvement over time.

For novice drivers, training with driving video games may be more helpful, the researchers suggested in the work published in the journal Psychological Science.

Tags: Apps, Gaming, Science, Video Games

Delhi chief Minister Warns of Strict action towards Ola, Uber

Delhi Chief Minister Warns of Strict Action Against Ola, Uber

Delhi leader Minister Arvind Kejriwal Monday warned of “strict movementagainst app-primarily basedtaxis, together with cancellation of permits and impounding of motors, for charging fares extra than therates prescribed by way of the government.

“Strict movement, along with permit cancellation and impounding of cars, might be taken against app-based taxis which charge fares more than government-prescribed prices (sic),” Kejriwal said in a tweet Monday.

(also see: Will save you Arbitrariness by App-based totally Taxi Operators: Delhi government)

The move comes after the government obtained some complaints towards the app-based totally taxicarrier companies Ola and Uber of trekking the fares exorbitantly for the duration of rush hours.

The charges had been allegedly additionally hiked Monday, the first complete working day of the fortnight-lengthy abnormal-even scheme when places of work, schools and different establishmentsreopened after an extended weekend.

delivery Minister Gopal Rai made an enchantment to the commuters to sign in their proceedings at 011-42400400 in opposition to exorbitant fares charged via the app-primarily based taxi carrier vendors.

“If we obtain complaints against arbitrariness of any app-based totally taxi service, we can impound theirautomobiles,” Rai stated.

in advance in the day, Kejriwal pooled in Rai’s car to attain his office at Delhi Secretariat.

Heavy visitors become witnessed at ITO and near Akshardham inside the morning hours on the firstoperating day after the street-rationing scheme turned into rolled out on April 15.

nowadays is the real test of ordinary-even. like the first phase of the scheme, all of us will ought to make its second phase a success,” Rai said.

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Tags: Apps, Delhi, India, abnormal Even, strange Even Rule, Ola, Surge Pricing, Uber