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‘Bright’ Reviews: What the Critics Are Saying

Netflix’s upcoming film “Bright,” which releases Dec. 22, may have cost upwards of $90 million to make, but a slew of negative reviews and a current Rotten Tomatoes score of 26% just go to show that cash does not directly translate to quality.

Bright” blends the fantasy epic with a cop movie into one in an alternate, modern day Los Angeles that sees Will Smith paired up with the LAPD’s first orc cop played by Joel Edgerton as they try to keep a doomsday device, in this case a magic wand, out of the hands of evil.

Variety‘s Peter Debruge wrote one of the few positive reviews, calling it, “the best Netflix original movie to date.”

Among the numerous reviews panning the latest work from director David Ayer, Indiewire’s David Ehrlich said that “Bright” is “the single worst movie of 2017.” Ayer took to Twitter to defend his work and responded to Ehrlich saying, “This is going on my fridge. Highest compliment is a strong reaction either way. This is a f*cking epic review.”

Ayer, who also directed the divisive “Suicide Squad,” acknowledged that his “work can be polarizing.”

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Here are some highlights from critics’ reviews:

Variety‘s Peter Debruge:
“Plenty of sci-fi movies aspire to the kind of franchise-ready world-building on offer in ‘Bright,’ but precious few can pull it off. In fact, not since ‘District 9’ has a movie taken the underlying tensions of a community (in this case, Rodney King-style police brutality and unchecked Rampart-esque in-fighting) and so creatively amplified them to suit an otherwise straightforward action plot.”

Indiewire’s David Ehrlich:
“There’s boring, there’s bad, and then there’s ‘Bright,’ a movie so profoundly awful that Republicans will probably try to pass it into law over Christmas break. From the director of ‘Suicide Squad’ and the writer of ‘Victor Frankenstein’ comes a fresh slice of hell that somehow represents new lows for them both — a dull and painfully derivative ordeal that often feels like it was made just to put those earlier misfires into perspective…At least ‘The Emoji Movie’ owned up to the fact that it was just putting s— on screen; at least “The Emoji Movie” had the courtesy to dress it up in a bowtie. “

Los Angeles Times’ Noel Murray:
“‘Bright’ is only interesting for how confused it appears to be in regard to its potential audience. Screenwriter Max Landis and director David Ayer have taken a premise that could’ve worked reasonably well as a family-friendly television series — mismatched buddy cops busting criminals in a fantastical version of Los Angeles — and have turned it into a violent, vulgar two-hour movie, weighed down by heavy mythology….The movie’s on-screen message is, “If you act like my enemy you become my enemy.” But acting like an R-rated fantasy blockbuster doesn’t magically transform ‘Bright’ into ‘RoboCop,’ ‘Blade Runner’ or any of the other adult-oriented genre classics that’d be a much better use of TV viewers’ time and money”

Vulture’s Emily Yoshida:
“‘Bright’ turns out to be more interested in its mythrilpunk world-building than any kind of social commentary, which is a good thing, because while it is so-so at the former (the plot holes in this thing), it is clearly out of its depth with the latter…It feels irresponsible at best, especially as interracial human violence is apparently a nonissue in this world, but Smith can still make a Black Lives Matter joke and it apparently plays.”

IGN’s David Griffin:
“‘Bright’ could have been something truly special if it had slowed down the pace of its narrative to allow for a fuller exploration of its engaging world. Will Smith and Joel Edgerton are a compelling duo I’d love to see again in a sequel, or even a new series produced by Netflix, so hopefully, this isn’t the last we’ll see of the world of ‘Bright.'”

Vanity Fair’s Jordan Hoffman:
” It is a dreadful bore as a narrative and, even more aggravating, a visual non-event. How do you screw up a fight scene with elves at a neon-lit strip club—or the sort of chase sequences so exhilaratingly shot in films like ‘Good Time,’ made with a fraction of ‘Bright’s’ budget?…You’d think this would be an opportunity to at least go wild with production design, but other than a few shots involving a throne of bones, it’s just a typical low-rent direct-to-video crime movie that somehow snagged Will Smith.”

The Guardian’s Steve Rose:
“[Ayer is] fond of macho, hard-hitting action: cartridge-showering shootouts; careering car chases; crunching hand-to-hand combat. Some of it is exhilarating; some of it is borderline incomprehensible owing to mistimed editing and a terminally gloomy palette. The pace barely lets up, but sometimes you wish it would.I’d have been happy to ride around with these cops on a day where nothing much happened at all, or to see that centaur traffic cop putting his hooves up at home – maybe next time. And hopefully there will be a next time. For all its flaws, Bright is still a headlong leap into a bracingly different new world. Cinema could do with more of that.”

The Telegraph’s Tim Robey:
“The film’s structure feels both borrowed and unfit for purpose, shunting us from one pseudo-high-stakes encounter to the next, with the wand as a Tolkienesque Macguffin whose usage makes no sense… ‘Bright’ never convinces you that it has thought through the rules of its alternate reality, with the result that you can’t suspend disbelief, and it isn’t a reality.”

The Wrap’s Todd Gilchrist:
“There may be no more unexpected (or damning) faint praise for David Ayer’s new movie ‘Bright’ than this: It made me wish I was watching ‘Suicide Squad’ instead…Even Will Smith’s irrepressible charisma can’t compete with the unrelentingly muddy production design, the poorly-conceived characters and a profoundly stupid racial metaphor that somehow amplifies stereotypes of actual ethnic groups. The result is another genre disaster that’s only impressive in how arrogantly the filmmakers presume audiences will want it to be expanded into a franchise.”

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