Bright movie mini-review

Bright movie mini-review

Will Smith's 2017 movie Bright was an early example of a big disparity between audience scores and professional reviewers, although in this case the audience only found it "okay", while often now the phenomenon produces outsized positive audience scores just to be contrary.

I watched this movie and liked it. It is social science fiction, except that the writers chose to use ideas from fantasy instead of science fiction, which perhaps is off-putting to an audience that doesn't know these are the same genre. In social science fiction:

The focus of the story is on how the presence of the invention affects people's daily lives, whether for good or for ill. The chief distinction between this and the other two types is that the presence of the invention influences the plot rather than causing it or being the goal.

Except that here, instead of some new technology, you have a situation where human racial distinctions are obliterated by non-human racial distinctions. A recent post by Misha's Kvetch put it thus:

The aesthetic goes hard. Lord of the Rings meets Training Day. There exists an uneasy caste system after the conclusion of long-ago wars where Man and Elf won and Orc lost. Now orcs live in a degenerate and subjugated urban state, supposed equals of men, but not really. Elves live in wealthy gated Elysiums. True multiculturalism.
Joe Rogan’s on in the family home interviewing an orc. Ward’s pretty white wife complains about the fairy pest outside. Notice how I said white? Feels out of place, but especially here. Human race disappears in this film, dissolved in the harsh and fixed racial and class hierarchies of man, elf and orc. Fairy lives don’t matter today, Ward says before he beats the fairy outside to death.

One review that almost gets it is this one on Heaven of Horror. Where I think the review misses the point is in trying too hard to fit the movie into the Standard Model of American race relations, with Black and White the only things that matter.

This means it has to be very clear that the orcs are representing black people, while elves represent rich, white people. Humans are basically placeholders for the average middle-class American.

Science fiction cities are often based on real life ones, and this one is Los Angeles, which is the place in America that is closest to actually being beyond the Standard Model, with a bewildering mosaic of ethnicities and enclaves and cultures. If you want to understand Bright, you need to know LA.

This movie is far more interesting than it's review scores would indicate, you should give it a watch if you haven't seen it.