Netflix trying to make an epic blockbuster movie was inevitable, the last step for a streaming empire that’s seeking to become a hub for all of your entertainment needs. But — and I’m no expert here — I think it was unwise to fork over $90 million to the director of Suicide Squad (David Ayer) and the screenwriter behind Victor Frankenstein and American Ultra (Max Landis). That’s exactly what happened though, and what Netflix got was Bright, a Will Smith–starring, buddy-cop movie that takes place in a fantasy world filled with orcs, fairies, and elves. Imagine J.R.R. Tolkien fanfic from a 12-year-old obsessed with Training Day, only everything is shrouded in darkness, the action is incomprehensible, and the racial allegories are about as subtle as a Wahlberg family Super Bowl viewing.
Just how bad is Bright? I set out to ruin two hours of my Friday morning to find out, risking both my own sanity and my laptop, which I nearly threw across the room at least four separate times. Thankfully, I restrained, and now I can share with you my 30 most pressing questions about Bright.
1. I’m not even through the opening credits and, seriously, this is the name of a production company?
I, a snowflake, am clearly not prepared for what’s about to go down.
2. I love it when a fantasy movie has a super vaguely described prophecy that the movie eventually returns to, and “Only a Bright can control the Power of the Wand” is an all-timer. Apparently, this line is from Chapter 7, Verse 15 of the so-called book The Great Prophecy. That’s quite a lengthy tome! What’s covered in chapters 1 through 6? Does the wand have a name, or does just everyone call it “Wand”? Is there more than one wand in this universe?
3. Wait, what is a Bright? Actually, nevermind.
4. The opening credits are supposed to function as world-building, to ease the audience into a present-day Los Angeles where humans live alongside orcs, elves, and fairies. Much of this is established through unsubtle graffiti.
Is this the worst graffiti artist in L.A.? Elf Banksy needs to step it up.
5. Are we going to give Max Landis a free pass for life since he wrote Chronicle?
6. Oh my god, is that Joel Edgerton under all that Orc makeup? Joel, how much did they pay you for this?
Green sauce, obviously.
7. Actually, no burrito sauce for anyone. As we find out, Edgerton is Nick Jakoby, the first orc cop in the LAPD, and he’s been partnered with human cop Daryl Ward (Will Smith). Unfortunately for Daryl, teaming up with the first orc cop means he’s a huge target for orc gangsters, one of whom shoots Daryl in the chest while Nick is buying a burrito. Daryl survives thanks to his bulletproof vest, but he never did get to enjoy that sauce. By the way, is Daryl close to retirement, like every other cop in every cop movie ever made?
8. Are Daryl’s neighbors characterized with any nuance whatsoever?
9. It can’t get worse than that, right?
[Narrator voice] “Thirty seconds later, Miles was wrong.”
10. Can’t we find better work for Will Smith? The fact that he’s done two movies with David Ayer now — Suicide Squad and Bright — is just depressing. Between those movies and Collateral Beauty, is Will Smith having the worst period of his career?
11. Would all be forgiven if we got a Fresh Prince reboot?
12. Hold on, is it too late to enter Will Smith in the best sweaters of 2017 contest? I might not be enjoying Bright, but I can’t deny this is a very good, “I just bought all the kombucha at the bodega”–type hoodie.
If Daryl wore a stoner hoodie instead of a police uniform for the whole movie, Bright would be a hundred times better.
13. As Daryl and Nick head to the precinct (where Daryl, sadly, removes that dank sweater), we’re given some much-needed context for why humans hate orcs so much. You see, 2,000 years ago, the orcs followed the “Dark Lord” and tried to wipe out humanity, and humans have hated them ever since. (Elves are cool, though.) Again, does the “Dark Lord” have a name, or when you say “Dark Lord” does everyone just know who you’re talking about?
14. Between “Wand,” the “Great Prophecy,” and “Dark Lord,” is this the laziest world-building ever? Imagine if Game of Thrones took place in the “World,” and everyone was fighting for the “Chair” before the “Bad Guys” showed up.
15. Are the other cops mean to Nick?
16. Whoa, is that a CENTAUR COP?
17. I’m sorry, can this movie be about that dude instead?
18. Do humans like centaurs? Are centaur cops more common than orc cops? Do centaurs have specialized urinals? Are there Foot Lockers for centaurs, or do regular Foot Lockers have a centaur section? Would they be the worst upstairs neighbors in an apartment complex? I need answers!
It’s a great question, to be honest. (But they don’t.)
20. Is this my saddest tweet?
I've been watching BRIGHT since 7. Please, call an ambulance— Miles Surrey (@HKSurrey) December 22, 2017
21. Did the U.S. government create a department that handles investigations dealing with the supernatural elements of these mythical creatures inhabiting the world, and if it did, would that department get a really dope name and not something super generic?
22. HOW IS THIS MOVIE SO LAZY WITH NAMING THINGS?!
23. So what are the elves’ lives like in this universe?
They just really like Versace?
24. Later in Bright, Nick and Daryl investigate a crime scene where it seems like some magic went down with a wand. Here’s the thing about wands: They can only be used by elves who are “Brights,” and a human “Bright” is supposed to be super rare, like one in a million. Despite this, there are many people — including an entire gang and its wheelchair-bound leader — who want to take the wand. So, is everyone risking their lives because of lazy plotting, or is this a sobering commentary on the societal plight facing most people in the city, that they’d rather risk their lives for the infinitesimal chance of wielding a wand than continue their meandering existence? Based on everything else I’ve seen, I’m going with the former.
25. Are elves kinda like dogs?
26. The rest of Bright is, as follows: Nick and Daryl try to get an elf named Tikka (Lucy Fry) to safety while being pursued by an evil elf, Leilah (Noomi Rapace), who wants to resurrect the Dark Lord, while other people try to grab the wand ad nauseam in chaotic, incoherently dark gunfire. Is it possible to describe how this movie treats the audience in one screenshot?
27A. Where did the $90 million budget go in this movie? I ask this in good faith, because I feel like I’m watching a CW show except with more famous actors.
27B. Did they spend all the money on this glowing tree pool?
27C. Or maybe the entire budget was spent on Joel Edgerton’s orc payoff?
28. A real question I wrote down in my notes at the start of the movie: “There’s a 99 percent chance Will Smith is a human Bright, right?”
29. Daryl kills Leilah before she resurrects the Dark Lord, saving Los Angeles and (presumably) the rest of the world. I’m really glad this is over. There’s no need for a sequel, right?
30. How did Bright film my reaction to Bright?