Bright (2017) — Not as original as it thinks it is

“You save your dime. Fairy lives don’t matter today.”

Flinthart’s review: Sue me. I was tired and slightly drunk. I watched Bright.

No. I didn’t like ‘Bright’. It reminded me of The Matrix.

When The Matrix came out, the moviegoing world drew a collective breath and went “Oooh! Wow! These ideas! So deep! So mindblowing!” But much of the science fiction reading community went “Oh. Yeah. You took some ideas we started exploring forty years ago, and you wrapped ’em up in an action movie plot. Hey, nice special effects!”

This time round, it’s not generic SF being mined. It’s generic fantasy. And I do mean generic.

If you’re a tabletop gamer, you’ve probably encountered or heard of a number of role-playing games which incorporate a modern setting plus elves, orcs, the odd monster and a bit of magic. Urban Fantasy, it gets called. The oldest and probably best known is Shadowrun. I never really got into it, I have to admit. I was having too much fun playing other games.

Anyway. Clearly, somebody in Netflix development department has realised that gamers and fantasy/sf geeks are a strong part of their core audience. And they’ve gone through a few books and records, poked around, and decided that Urban Fantasy might be something. But just like The Matrix, instead of trying to do anything really interesting with the concepts, they just tied a bunch of hackneyed old ideas up in a shiny, high-production-value ribbon, and threw it to us the way you might throw some old and slightly suspicious tuna salad to a particularly dumb and hungry mutt.

I’m not going to bother talking through the plot. Instead, I’m going to hit you with cliched tropes. You will, I assure you, be able to build a more than reasonably accurate picture of the movie as a result. And here they are:

  • Elves, Orcs, and Humans sharing a world.
  • Orcs are angry and violent.
  • Elves are Beautiful, Snobbish Aristocrats
  • Disaffected Human Cop gets new Orc partner.
  • New Orc is First Orc Cop Ever
  • Human Cop and Orc Cop Must Learn To Trust One Another
  • Orc Community Sees Orc Cop as Race Traitor.
  • The Dark Lord is Trying to Return
  • There Is A Prophecy
  • There are Dirty Cops
  • A Magic Wand of Power Is Lost — and Found by the Unlikely Heroes
  • A Cute Elvish Girl-Magician Is On The Run — and Found by the Unlikely Heroes
  • The Chosen One is Put To Death and Returns

…There’s more. I can’t go on. What the f**k is Will Smith doing in this? Is he that desperate for money and publicity? Shit.

Look — I’m sure there’s a sizable section of the viewing community for whom this by-the-numbers mash-up of Buddy Cop and Shadowrun gaming will be sort of new and fun. But I’m not one of them. And frankly, if you know me and you’re reading this, you’re probably not either.

My advice? If you have Netflix, and if you are bored, and if you have a lot of booze, get together with some like-minded friends. Pour shots. Then every time a tired, over-used cliche from either buddy cop films or urban fantasy gaming hits the screen, have everyone leap to their feet and shout “F**k Off”. Last person on their feet has to drink. Caveat: if the first person leaping up and shouting cannot explain the cliché and identify at least two other films, books or games which use it, that person drinks TWO shots.

This is the only way I might ever watch Bright again.

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