If you stepped away from the live broadcast of the Oscars this year even for a few minutes, you might have missed the exciting new teaser trailer for the Netflix Original movie “Bright” starring Will Smith. In just 30 seconds, Netflix gave us just the briefest of glimpses at what promises to be one of the most talked-about movie debuts this year. And, with a budget of $90 million, this new film promises to be one of the showcase new projects turning Netflix into a true original content powerhouse.
So what do we know about “Bright”? Netflix has released only the broadest of outlines of what this show is all about. The film, written by Max Landis and directed by David Ayer, is being billed as a “fantasy film” starring Will Smith as a Los Angeles Police Department officer who must team up with an orc cop in a modern-day world populated by all kinds of mythical creatures like elves, dwarves, goblins and orcs.
#1: A “Suicide Squad” look to the film
Some people, when they first saw the “Bright” teaser trailer, thought they were seeing a sequel for “Suicide Squad.” That’s because both films have the same director, David Ayer, and the same overall aesthetic (plus all the fantastic-looking creatures). What we do know is that we’re going to get a fantasy cop thriller filled with all manner of mythical creatures. Netflix is pitching this as a movie of where “fantasy has become reality.”
In the teaser trailer, it looks like the film is based in modern-day Los Angeles. But the city seems to be some kind of police state, with violence, fires and gang members doing battle with the heavily-armed police presence. In the trailer, the song “This Land is Your Land” by Woody Guthrie plays in the background, at which point we’re immediately presented with an orc police officer (played by Joel Edgerton) and all kinds of fantastic creatures. So have these creatures taken over?
#2: Magical super weapons and an epic quest
OK, so this is not just a modern-day dystopian film or a futuristic film like “Blade Runner.” There appears to be a strong fantasy component to the film, involving a medieval-looking rusty sword and a magic wand. From notes that have been leaked out about the show, we know that there will be some kind of “super weapon” that Will Smith and his fellow orc police officer will have to find.
We also know that Lucy Fry will play the role of Tikka, a young elf with magical powers. She apparently has a magic wand that is very important for the future outcome of the quest for the sword. Noomi Rapace will also play a mythical creature in the film, although her title and role has not yet been disclosed.
In an interview in Los Angeles, the writer for the show, Max Landis, pointed out that the idea for the show is a modern-day version of Dungeons & Dragons, with a few allusions and references to popular films like “Lord of the Rings” and popular shows like HBO’s “Game of Thrones.” With all the orcs, goblins and dwarves, it definitely has a very distinct “Lord of the Rings” feel to it.
As Landis explains, the whole backstory of this film is that some of these mythical creatures are still amongst us, but they are dying out as a result of hereditary diseases. And nobody practices magic any more. However, there appears to be some kind of quest involved. In the trailer, we hear Will Smith say, “I’m assuming this doesn’t end well…” So it’s a given that this is going to involve some dangerous encounters.
#3: A story of brotherhood, friendship and racial harmony
We also know that Netflix is going to play up the brotherhood and friendship aspects of this film, with an emphasis on the relationship that Will Smith must form with his orc police partner. In fact, you can take a very metaphorical look at this and see a broader story of race involved here. The “first orc cop” is really a metaphor for the “first black cop” or the “first Hispanic cop.” As we know based on the trailer, Will Smith and the orc must team up to complete the quest, find the magic super-weapon and restore order to Los Angeles.
#4: A high-energy cop thriller
When the teaser-trailer first came out, many were quick to call this Will Smith movie a “supernatural cop thriller.” Max Landis, though, has said that even though this will be a cop film, he preferred to think of it as a “fantasy” film rather than a “supernatural” film. We know that it’s going to be up-tempo, action-packed and filled with some great action sequences – but no occult references.
We know, though, that the FBI is going to have some kind of “magic division” staffed by both humans and elves, and that there is going to be some kind of violent orcs gang – the Fogteeth Orcs gang. But it’s not clear if Joel Edgerton (as Nick Jakoby the orc cop) is going to have any relationship to this orc gang.
#5: Massive spending on studio special effects
The reported budget for “Bright” is $90 million, making it one of the most expensive exclusives that Netflix has ever attempted. In fact, $90 million is the type of budget a major Hollywood film would require. (And Netflix doesn’t appear to be stopping anytime soon – they’ve also lined up Brad Pitt for an upcoming $60 million film called “War Machine.”)
Thus, get ready for all kinds of special effects and some massive CGI spending. The goal, it appears, is to mash-up a modern-day dystopian Los Angeles (with all the built-in assumptions of troubled race relations in this controversial city) and a fantasy realm populated by elves, orcs, goblins and dwarves.
All we know is that when this film hits Netflix in December 2017, it’s going to cause movie viewers to finally confront the question: What are they going to do when all the big blockbuster films start becoming exclusives on streaming services like Netflix? Presumably, you won’t be able to plunk down $20 in a cinema and watch “Bright” in IMAX or 3D, you’re going to have to be a subscriber to Netflix or potentially miss one of the biggest film debuts of the year. When it’s released, stream “Bright” on Netflix after you sign up for a speedy internet connection.