WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for director David Ayer’s Bright, now streaming on Netflix.
Netflix’s fantasy crime drama Bright arrived with high expectations, due to a $90 million production budget and the involvement of director David Ayer and star Will Smith. However, the film has proved to be among the streaming service’s divisive releases to date, earning brutal reviews while receiving generally high marks from viewers. However, apparently realizing it had a hit on its hands with the unusual buddy-cop story, Netflix was quick to order a sequel. But another film may not be the best way to further explore this world of humans, orcs, elves and fairies.
If Netflix were to put a blockbuster-size budget toward a television series, Bright would have a chance to iron out its flaws and perfect what Ayer and screenwriter Max Landis tried to accomplish. Make no mistake, as fun as Landis’ script is, it has some issues. Let’s take a look at how a season order of, say, eight to 10 episodes, would be better suited to make the next chapter stand out.
Deeper Dive Into History
Bright focuses on Smith’s Daryl Ward, a human cop, and Edgerton’s Nick Jakoby, a rookie orc, working in the Los Angeles Police Department to fight crime and corruption. They end up partnering with Tikka (Lucy Fry), a rebel elf, who helps them protect a magic wand — basically a weapon of mass destruction — from an evil elf sect known as the Inferni. While we appreciate the modern setting and the urban fantasy Ayer paints, the film hints at an epic backstory a la Lord of the Rings, and leaves us pondering the past.
Apparently, humans banded together with orcs and elves to stop the Inferni’s Dark Lord. A series would allow us to explore this history, and how each race fared in the aftermath. It’s already implied that after this great war, the orcs broke the fellowship and devolved into society’s outcasts. Multiple episodes could fill us in on this, as well as who the Dark Lord was (we assume an elf). Other pieces of history that could be analyzed include how the Inferni came about, why the elves and humans didn’t fall to the bottom of the social pyramid like the orcs, and also, just how Brights (those who can wield wands) came about. Most of all, we can get insight into the history of magic in this universe.
Better Character Development
Ayer did a great job developing the chemistry between Ward (Smith), a weary cop who just wants to retire with his pension, and Jakoby (Joel Edgerton), an orc who’s considered an outsider by his own race. However, we don’t get a true sense of the other characters involved. A series could correct that, and give us the necessary background information while providing answers to questions like why the young elf Tikka (Lucy Fry) decided to betray the Inferni to save the world. Other characters that need fleshing out include Edgar Ramirez’s Kandomere, an elf with the FBI’s Magic Division, because in this world, elves don’t typically take such “dirty” jobs.
Noomi Rapace’s dark elf Leilah had so much potential, but her character was wasted and relegated to a mere thug. If another villain like her pops up, a series would allow more screen time to ensure the character is truly intimidating, unlike Leilah, who barely has any lines. With so many importance faces, Bright needs more than two hours to allow the audience connect to them.
It’s pretty clear how humans feel: They just want to get by in this modern city of supernatural creatures. However, a series would give us more perspective on how they view the world. On the surface, it seems to be hatred, but diving deeper could reveal who tolerates, accepts and even feels empatny for the likes of the orcs. That would build on Ayer’s initial statements about sociopolitical themes of race and class. After all, each species has its good on top of the bad, so a longer run gives the director ample time to properly detail that.
Just like Tikka, there may also be other elves who aren’t elite and don’t believe they belong in ivory towers. The same principle applies to orcs, depicted in the film primarily as criminals that gather in gang-like clans. Breaking down those barriers over the course of a season could shed further light as to why they, in particular, are that way at present, how they feel as targets of discrimination, and what they believe they deserve.
We already got a taste of that with the Fogteeth Orcs gang that put aside all differences, and preached neutrality and unity. Interestingly, we barely saw female orcs, if at all, so it’s clear that Bright still has a lot yet to discuss. An episodic run would provide the canvas for all those elements.
Directed by David Ayer from a script by Max Landis, Bright is streaming now on Netflix.
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