“Bright” is the type of movie you watch while actively hoping you’ll find something wrong with it. You want to hate this movie, it’s premise is based on a fancy but reeks of a farce. We watch “Bright” automatically assuming that director David Ayer and writer Max Landis have done something wrong when making this “Training Day” meets “Lord of the Rings” crossover. The film they’ve made isn’t great by any means but “Bright” is thoroughly entertaining, even offering us an occasional glimpse of movie magic.
Will Smith stars as LAPD officer Daryl Ward, a street smart family man with a clear distaste of anything loud, noisy or non-homo sapien. His partner is Joel Edgarton’s character Nick Jakoby, an orc with grotesque blue skin, discolored teeth but a charming, heart of gold. Ward despises Jakoby until the two find themselves in a holier-than-thou magic conundrum involving a magic wand, a bitter sibling rivalry between powerful elves, and east side LA gangs composed of latinos and orcs.
That all sounds silly but it’s not a joke as”Bright” succeeds in creating a futuristic Los Angeles where it feels possible for all of these creatures to coincide and coexist, where poor fairies can be seen flying above South Central streets and elves are spotted cozying up with Kardashians underneath the lavish lights of Rodeo Drive. But “Bright” isn’t sure what type of story it wants to tell, confident enough that just because it created this fanciful world, colliding elements and what-ifs that don’t stay fully on track. The film is visionary but sadly looks like shit, with its images appearing as if they were shot form the exhaust pipe on a clogged LA freeway.
The gangs feel too overbearing, the cop betrayals too forced and on the nose, and more elements are thrown our way before the movie has an opportunity to properly explain them. It sucks, because there are dozens of ways Landis and Ayer could have gone about making “Bright” better, countless points in the film where they could have trimmed the fact and just stuck to a making a small story in a futuristic, fancy world. But for the moments it does cast a spell, its effects are wholly transfixing and well worth the investment.