Bright is a modern dark fantasy starring Will Smith as Daryl Ward, a Los Angeles police officer partnered with Nick Jakobi, an orc. Orcs are one of the many ancient races still in existence today. Two thousand years ago, the Nice Races joined forces to banish The Dark Lord, a being of tremendous power and great evil, from the face of the Earth. The orcs choose The Dark Lord’s side and have been paying for it ever since. They live in squalor and inhabit the more rundown urban areas. Jakobi is ostracized by his fellow orcs and shunned by humans. On top of that, he faces all manner of scorn from not only the other officers but his partner as well. The other prominent demi-humans are the elves. Elves are arrogant, ruthless, without mercy, aloof dandies who seem to live in the upper one percent of wealth and leisure. It is suggested they have some matter of influence over human society, both governmental and financial. Those who possess true magical power are called Brights. Only a Bright can safely wield a Magic Wand. Wands are like conduits through which magical energy can be funneled and amplified to achieve impossible levels of reality altering effects. Non-Brights are obliterated. Pretty straightforward.
Ward and Jakobi answer a routine call which quickly draws them into a plot by cultists, lead by a renegade elf, who seek to bring The Dark Lord back to Earth. They need a Magic Wand to complete the ritual. The officers encounter a young elf who has turned away from the cult and has the wand of the cult’s leader. They spend a very long and blood-soaked night trying to protect her. Ward begins wanting Jakobi out of his life and is drawn into a deep conspiracy to frame Jakobi and turn public opinion against orcs even darker. Elements of prejudice and police corruption are not new. Films like “In the Heat of the Night”, “Alien Nation”, and “Serpico” have all dealt with these tropes. The mix-matched buddy cop trope has also been done repeatedly to one degree or another. Bright does have an intelligence behind it. The two characters grow at a pace which isn’t hurried for sake of plot. They genuinely expand beyond the stereotypes of racist and dim-brain to become three dimensional people. Ward starts to realize how similar the treatment of orcs is to the way humans treat each other. Jakobi reveals a sensitivity and humility not overly presented in orc culture.
Before I get roasted by the Internet for referring to a black man as “racist”, I would like to point out orcs and elves are SEPARATE RACES. Actual non-humanoids, which I am FULLY aware is the rhetoric of the hateful and small-minded regarding those who are “not us.” Even the orcs turn from Jakobi because he walks in the “human world” and lives as one of “them.” Prejudice clouds reason no matter who feels it. Some of you more clever fools will argue that this is a work of fiction and the prejudice of a “made up” race is merely a metaphor for real discrimination and not at all valid because factious beings wouldn’t have human -like qualities such as hatred of their own based off gender bias or skin color. Their prejudice is a projection placed on them to make the characters accessible to the audience to avoid alienation. These same people say animals don’t have souls. My point is racism, no matter the source, is WRONG. It is an evil far greater than some eldritch thing from beyond time and space. We seek to divide ourselves and are unified in that division. It’s a sick paradox.
FYI, our heroes succeed in stopping the Big Bad from crossing over. As is typical in most of these mix-matched films, a friendship is forged in battle between the two partners. What I did enjoy were the special effects. They blended well with the scenes to a great degree and they were believable as opposed to those of previous films wherein your sense of disbelief cries “bullshit!” and shuts off. I do wish the narrative was a longer more episodic piece to let the story develop more. I wanted to see more about elven culture and see the orcs as more than brutish gangsters. There’s a mention of dwarfs and we even get a glimpse of a centaur. There is a sequel in the works and I want more. Broaden this world out. I’d watch a Bright show, if it’s written right. The Alien Nation show self-destructed. I was very entertained and have plenty to talk about with my friends.