Review by Ray Schillaci
Stumbling into the department of “What Were They Thinking?”… At first glance, this new Will Smith/David Ayer fantasy feature draws far too much familiarity from another ill-conceived 1988 feature film, Alien Nation. But this time, the aliens are replaced with orcs, elves and fairies thrust into a future that resembles todays more downtrodden downtown L.A. adding a high tech, nouveau elf city green screen.
Now, for those not familiar with the 1988 film that spawned an ill-fated season of a TV show that deservedly went nowhere, Alien Nation was about aliens landing on Earth and migrating into society, eventually having a cop duo, human and alien, work against a drug ring that’s pushing a dangerous narcotic that only effects the aliens.
The history behind this 1988 film is an interesting one that included producer Gale Anne Hurd (The Terminator, Aliens) receiving a spec-script that was apparently at a few studios that were on the verge of purchasing it. It was known as a page turner. What few people are unaware of is that the original script was by a little known writer by the name of James Cameron who had just finished The Terminator.
I happened to have a connection at 20th Century FOX at the time, and the script was slipped to me. I was blown away by the story. It was one of those scripts where you could not see how the studio could go wrong with it. Yet, they did. Whether it be the director or the case of too many studio execs spoiling the broth, the final product of Alien Nation was a big ho-hum. Max Landis (Victor Frankenstein, American Ultra) and David Ayer (Suicide Squad, End of Watch) have not made their film any better even with former box office champ Will Smith.
The huge difference (besides the whole fairy tale angle) is that Alien Nation at least established how everything came to be while Bright just throws it out there as if we somehow missed a prequel. That’s right, it plays like the second installment of a mediocre trilogy. The whole fairy tale angle never goes beyond a few CGI and make-up effects.
Orcs are more or less unruly gangbangers and elves just happen to be the corrupted rich that have infected the Feds. Instead of drugs, everyone is after a magic wand that can summon “The Dark Lord” and alter the world as we know it. But, is this world really worth saving? It’s so dirty with little redeeming value. The only saving grace is Joel Edgerton’s wide-eyed orc officer who provides some comedy relief.
Action sequences never go beyond the low “B” movie action fare, which could be fun if it was not saddled with such a downbeat tone masquerading as serious drama. There’s so much nonsense throughout one cannot help but wonder if it was trying to pass as humor. One scene in particular in the beginning has Will Smith’s character talking about how he will not mess with fairies. But, a little nagging from his wife has him swatting at one. The whole sequence feels like a throwaway, like much of Smith’s performance that feels like a phoned in continuation from his Suicide Squad movie.
All the explosions, car chases, and barrage of bullets cannot muster much excitement, because when it comes right down to it, Bright is dull. Sadly, a concept that was under utilized in the late ’80s is now a total misfire in 2017. We can only hope Landis, Ayer, and Smith eventually involve themselves in a better film, and not even think of attempting a misguided sequel for a quick cash and grab. Perhaps we should leave the orcs, elves, and fairies to Peter Jackson.
Directed by: David Ayer
Release Date: December 22, 2017
Run Time: 117 Minutes