Will Smith's Netflix Movie 'Bright' Disgusted Most Critics, But It's Pretty Damn Fun

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Joel Egerton as Jakoby in 'Bright'. Netflix

Netflix premiered its first big-budget blockbuster film, Bright, this week—and it was absolutely savaged by critics. The supernatural cop drama, starring Will Smith and Joel Edgerton and directed by David Ayer, has been called " stupid," "a waste of time," and "the worst film of 2017." Most of the critics who despise Bright seem to take issue with the movie's central concept: Daryl Ward (Smith), a human cop, and Nick Jakoby (Edgerton), an orc cop, team up in a modern-day Los Angeles that's home to fairies, elves and orcs. And if that's the case, chances are good they weren't on board for a corny, high-fantasy, dark-humored popcorn flick in the first place.

Variety and Vulture at least admit that Ayer does a fine job creating a bizarre world. In wide shots of the city, we see a lone dragon circling overhead. In club scenes, orc men watch humanoid strippers jiggle around. It's like nothing you've ever seen before, and yet its inspirations (Lord of the Rings, Bad Boys and two previous films by Ayer, Suicide Squad and End of Watch) all resonate pleasantly as you watch the film.

One of the core complaints from critics is that Bright feels like it was written by an algorithm. And in a way, it probably was made for a specific viewer profile: people who loved the concept of Ayer's Suicide Squad, saw Warcraft and liked the orcs, and who habitually rewatch old, moderately budgeted sci-fi or action films starring a wisecracking, unhappy Will Smith. If reaching those viewers was the goal, Bright is a success. Netflix is so confident in its audience, in fact, that it has already greenlit a sequel.

The reality is that many people will watch Bright regardless of what critics say. For those souls, the movie delivers a unique if imperfect two-hour distraction. Here are four reasons to ignore the haters and fire up the weirdest buddy cop movie sinceTurner & Hooch.

Orcs with attitude

The plight of half-orcs and full orcs who reject their culture in favor of living with humans and elves is fascinating—any Dungeons & Dragons player will tell you that. It's a bottomless well of emotional context for roleplayers and fantasy authors, yet it has only recently been explored on-screen. Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings films set the standard, bringing to epic life the aspects of orc culture invented by author J.R.R. Tolkien. The 2016 adaptation of Warcraft was generally bad, but Tobey Kebbel's orc-with-a-heart-of-gold was well played. Edgerton in Bright moves things forward even more. He's lovable, complicated and memorable—a first for movie orcs.

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Will Smith and Joel Egerton in 'Bright'. Netflix

This is the Will Smith we deserve

In the film, Smith's bad ass Daryl Ward is forced to work with the Edgerton's quiveringly earnest Nick Jacoby. Smith has built an adoring audience by playing wisecracking hot heads in a slew of genre movies, Bright included. Ward, who calls everyone "motherfucker," is fueld by the Smith charisma we've been missing in recent films, the one that allows him to sell the most ridiculous dialogue within a ridiculous context. "We can't go through Elf Town," Ward tells Jakoby at one point. "What, are you going to get yourself some designer shoes? Ain't nothin' here but rich-ass elves, runnin' the world and shopping." Smith believes it, so we do, too.

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Lucy Fry as Tikka the elf in 'Bright'. Netflix

Dialogue you can laugh at, and with

Screenwriter Max Landis is a polarizing guy, but you don't have to enjoy all of his work (including Mr. Right and American Ultra), or even approve of him as a person, to pick up what he's putting down in Bright. What makes the script work is that it's both serious and self-aware. After getting the stuffing beat out of them, Ward and Jakoby have an exchange that sums up the movie's tone. "You know what? Fuck magic," Ward says. After a beat, Jakoby mumbles, "I don't know... I still think it's kinda cool."

Villains that actually scare you

There have been complaints about villains in the latest blockbusters (Thor: Ragnarok, The Last Jedi); according to some fans, they simply aren't scary enough.That's not the case with Bright; we see what the baddies are capable of before we meet them. Ward and Jakoby are dumbfounded by the trail of the dead, killed by a magic wand. When Bright's big bad, the dark elf Leilah (Noomi Rapace), finally shows up, she slices open some throats and gazes open-mouthed at the humans who die in her arms—a supremely creepy scene. Maybe not Hannibal Lecter or Darth Vader scary, but up there with any of the genre film villains introduced this year.

Bright is available to stream on Netflix.

Will Smith's Netflix Movie 'Bright' Disgusted Most Critics, But It's Pretty Damn Fun | Culture
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