Sound Off! Bright

Welcome back to Sound Off!, a semi-regular column where members of Speculative Chic gather together to chat about the latest BIG THING in entertainment. This time, brush up on your high-school elvish and discuss Bright, which premiered on Netflix in the United States on Friday, December 22, 2017.

Sound Off! is meant to be a reaction, but not necessarily a review. After all, while we are all individuals, even mutual love of something (or hate) can come from different places: you may find everything from critique to fangirling to maybe even hate-watching.

Now, join J.L. Gribble as she talks about Bright. [Note: Spoiler-free!]

J.L.: I’ve been intrigued by the trailers for Bright for months, so my husband and I spent a quiet Christmas Eve with pizza and a movie curled up our couch together.

The best part about watching this movie at home is that it has the sort of amazing background detail that made each of us, at various times, point and exclaim, “Did you see that?” in a way that would not have flown in a movie theater. This incredible attention to the detail necessary for a “realistic” fantasy film is one of the ways this movie shined. Even something usually mindless such as the opening credits, a time to finish settling yourself and open your snacks, is utilized in this movie to provide essential worldbuilding detail without coming anywhere close to the dreaded “info dump.”

The racial allegories hinted at in the trailers are prominent in the theme and conflict in this film. One significant element I was not expecting is that while orcs are seen as “lesser” than humans, it is made incredibly obvious that elves rise above all else. While the “orcs representing U.S. African-Americans” ideas occasional beat me over the head, none of the characters themselves are stereotyped in any way. Casting a black man to be the human cop might have been more effective if it hadn’t been Will Smith, the least-threatening black American actor ever, but it’s hard to argue with Will Smith’s star-power. And, of course, the man nails everything I could have wanted out of the character anyway.

But it’s his orc partner, Nick Jacoby, who absolutely stole the show for me. Jakoby was delightful, earnest, and awkward, and Joel Edgerton blew me away by his ability to convey complex emotions with just a look even with such heavy prosthetics and makeup. Though major revelations are made about both characters, his story is the one I’d love to see continued, both as a cop and an orc in the society presented.

Though with two male main characters that are the focus of 95% of the movie, it’s not surprising that this film does not come close to passing the Bechdel Test. However, it presented diversity in different effective ways, featuring both women of color in positions of power and a character whose disability is neither ignored nor defines the entire character.

I’m not sure whether Netflix intends to explore more of this urban fantasy world, either with the characters we’re already met or in any other format (feature-length versus episodic). I’d certainly be willing to spend the time watching if they do.

1 Comment

  • Shara White December 28, 2017 at 7:27 pm

    I keep seeing negative reviews for this, but yours is the first positive I’ve read. I’m vaguely tempted to watch…..


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