When audiences think of Will Smith, they are much likelier to associate him with science fiction films such as Men In Black and Gemini Man rather than fantasy films like Dungeons & Dragons. Nonetheless, Smith headlined Bright, an ambitious Netflix fantasy film that stretched the boundaries of the genre in some fairly exciting ways.
And it’s time to roll for initiative because we’re about to explain just what makes this movie so special and why it needs to get a prequel (even one without Will Smith).
Bright takes place in an urban fantasy setting with orcs and elves, living and working side-by-side with humanity
Rather than being a more traditional fantasy tale like Lord of the Rings, Bright takes place in an urban fantasy setting with a wild conceit: creatures we’d consider magical, including orcs and elves, live and work side-by-side with humanity.
That arrangement isn’t without friction, and Will Smith plays an LAPD officer who isn’t quite ready to have an orc partner. Continuing the genre mashup, the movie follows their struggles against more mundane threats such as racial profiling and police corruption as well as more mystical threats like characters stealing and misusing magical wands.
In addition to Will Smith, the rest of the cast is filled with faces just as famous as they are varied. For example, Joel Edgerton (perhaps best known for portraying a younger Uncle Owen in Star Wars film Revenge of the Sith, a role he reprised for the Obi-Wan Kenobi show) is barely recognizable as Smith’s orc partner.
Sharp-tongued comedian Margaret Cho also plays a memorable role as a police officer with a few secrets of her own, and Joe Rogan even appears as himself, adding another layer of surreal verisimilitude to this urban fantasy adventure.
Helping bring Will Smith’s onscreen struggles to life is veteran director David Ayer. Some fans have disparaged Ayer because he was responsible for the overwrought (and certainly overedited) first Suicide Squad film, but he’s also the director of End of Watch, the excellent cop thriller starring Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Peña.
It’s fair to say that Bright serves as a fusion of these two films, with Ayer populating what might otherwise be a by-the-numbers police drama with the larger-than-life characters that will inevitably have you wondering what their D&D stat block would be like.
In case you were curious, the movie looks great, and that’s largely because of its lavish budget. At the time, Bright made history because this Will Smith urban fantasy film was the most expensive movie Netflix ever bought, clocking in at a cool $90 million.
Bright cost $90 million at the time of its production
While that number has since been eclipsed by films like Red Notice and The Gray Man, you could say that Bright paved the way for the streamer to take bigger and bigger swings at developing its own IP.
How much you enjoy Bright will depend entirely on how much you can invest yourself in the social issues which it primarily focuses on. While critics didn’t know quite what to make of the film, audiences loved it: in addition to scoring an 83 percent audience score on Rotten Tomatoes, Netflix confirmed the film was by 11 million Americans in the first three days of its release.
They cited the movie as providing a major boost to their subscribers and overall revenue, and it’s an open secret that the beleaguered streamer could use another boost like this.
Will Smith’s Bright Deserves A Prequel
And that leads us to the inevitable conclusion that this film needs a prequel. Originally, it was going to get a sequel, but Will Smith’s busy acting schedule kept delaying plans, and Smith slapping Chris Rock at the Academy Awards was the final nail in the coffin. Netflix officially scrapped the sequel, but that doesn’t mean the streamer couldn’t create a kickass prequel without Smith’s involvement.
While it would likely make Lord of the Rings fans a bit mad, we think the best prequel to Bright would be one that borrows from the Rings of Power format and takes place in the distant past. We could get a better idea of who the Dark Lord is, why the Orcs served him, and how the orcish hero Jirak finally defeated him.
In addition to sounding exciting on its own, this would be the most logical plot for a prequel because the original film focused on a plot to resurrect the Dark Lord and return him to power.
With or without a prequel, and whether or not you’re a fan of Will Smith, we think Bright is a film you should stream on Netflix ASAP. It’s genuinely not like any other urban fantasy film ever made, and it helps to scratch the itch left by the ignominious end of Game of Thrones.
Forget House of the Dragon: as Saruman once said, “The time of the orc has come,” and we love watching an unconventional police film that proves that walking the beat is back on the menu.