by Rob DiCristino and Adam Riske
Adam: Welcome to Reserved Seating. I’m Adam Riske.
Rob: And I’m Rob DiCristino.
Suicide Squad, Netflix’s most real movie/not TV movie to-date, and still pretty bad.
Rob: I want to be careful with how I approach this because, honestly, we don’t need to pile on. The internet is hunting Bright for sport this week. Nor am I interested in having the Max Landis conversation (though maybe no one having the Max Landis conversation is what allowed him to get as far as he did), because there’s nothing new or productive there. I’ll just say this: Bright is a bad movie. It’s a Battlefield Earth-level catastrophe, a convoluted, self-serious mess that manages to make a world of orcs, witches, fairies, and elves schizophrenic and boring. Its obsession with worldbuilding completely overtakes its characters and narrative to the point where — somewhere between the introduction of the tenth new gang and the third new prophecy — I just threw up my hands and surrendered. The movie simply cannot get out of its own way long enough to tell a coherent story, and David Ayer’s grimey, realistic point-of-view (though it feels like it should work here) is as misguided for this world as it was for Suicide Squad. I really wanted Bright to embrace its goofiness. It never does.
Adam: I think I’m going to be better at the not piling on than you are for Bright. I liked it more than you, but it wasn’t enough to tip the scale where I’m going to award it with a much heralded Mark Ahn. What did I like? The Joel Edgerton performance is the most interesting thing in the movie. I like that he played it as an Orc who was unsure of himself and not exactly a great cop. The production design, makeup, special effects are impressive -- even better than in some higher budgeted films currently playing in theaters. The soundtrack (which I’ve listened to a couple of times on my Amazon Music player) is solid. I give them credit for being a throwback and having a soundtrack, not just a generic score. I can see this world being interesting in different hands, etc. I don’t think the first hour of the movie is too bad, actually. It’s diverting for a little while.
My biggest problems with Bright are that it jettisons anything of interest in the second hour (around the time Noomi Rapace arrives as the lead villain) and is trying to be something different every five minutes. Seriously, who is this movie for? In the end, no one, right? I can’t imagine there being a douchebro out there with a Scarface poster, eating buffalo wings, wearing a Lord of the Rings costume, writing End of Watch fanfiction. As for Will Smith, has there ever been an actor so clueless as to what made him popular? We want to see you be charming, ya goof! No one wants you sad and surly. You’ve done that to death. It’s depressing that he has such terrible taste in scripts. Plus, how does one of the most popular African-American actors ever think going for that “Fairy lives don’t matter” joke is a good idea? It’s beyond tone deaf. One more Bright gripe: if you’re going to have a movie full of crooked cops, maybe don’t hire Margaret Cho and Ike Barinholtz (who is terrible in his second straight David Ayer movie) and go for more grizzled character actors. I don’t know really what else to say about Bright other than it’s one of the best things I’ve seen on Netflix and also a waste of time.
Adam: It does. You know what’s amazing as we come to the end of the year? I’ve Mark Ahn’d a lot of movies in our column and I don’t think I would stop to watch very many of them if I stumbled upon them on cable. We are in a weird, generic place with film these days. The Circle is looking better every day. Before we close, I will say this for Bright: I wish this were a theatrical release, because it has just enough starpower and geek allure to be a mid-size hit. I think seeing this Christmas weekend with an audience in a shared “WTF” state of mind would have been fun.
Rob: I was thinking that, too. I hope we sort out the midsize release conundrum soon. A lot of these movies deserve wider audiences than even Netflix can provide. As much as I didn’t connect with Bright, I certainly think it deserved a nice opening weekend. Anyway, happy holidays, buddy!
Rob: Which I still have not seen. I’ll definitely see you in February for F This Movie Fest VII: The Rob Awakens. I can’t wait. Happy holidays to everyone, and until next time…
Adam: These seats are reserved. Hey, do you think in 40 years people will be like “This doesn’t feel like Bright!” or “Ward and Jakoby wouldn’t do that!”?
Rob: This is why we can’t have nice things, Adam. But hey, Bright II: The Rebrightening is on its way!
Happy Holidays, everyone!