Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Script Review: "Bright"

Here's my very first script review!

If you were watching the Oscars on Sunday, you probably saw the first trailer for Netflix's "Bright." A movie starring Will Smith. The film is being directed by David Ayers, who also directed "Suicide Squad," so this will be the pairs second time working together. Ayers has also directed or been involved in other films such as "End of Watch," "Fury," "Sabotage" and "Training Day."

That's actually really important, because much like "Training Day," "End of Watch" and "Sabotage," Ayers is returning to the gritty underworld of Los Angeles and dabbling in the world of crime and corruption with "Bright." Except this time, there is going to be a little twist. I said from the start that if anybody was born to direct "Suicide Squad" its David Ayers. He is absolutely perfect in dealing in shades of grey with cops and robbers, highlighting corruption, showing us the dark corners of urban life in the City of Angels. I just wish that DC and Warner Brothers stayed out of his way, he would have given us a much better movie.

Something must have clicked though working on such a high concept, because in "Bright," he will taking a high concept and he is dropping it in his usual, seedy, criminal backdrop. "Bright" is a movie where humans and fantasy creatures live together. But they are not living in harmony, apparently there was some kind of war thousands of years ago between humans and fantasy creatures. There was some Dark Lord and bad magic and it seems the humans won. There is still a deep mistrust between humans and fantasy creatures, but they are sharing the Earth. Scott Ward (the character Will Smith will be playing), is a beat Los Angeles police officer who is very loyal to his partner Jakoby (who will be played by Joel Edgerton) who is an Orc. (Yes, the race of monsters from Warcraft and Lord of the Rings).

If you think that this movie is simply going to be "Lord of the Rings" in LA, you are sadly mistaken. What I really like about this script right from the beginning is how grounded everything is. The movie is not going to spend lots of time over-explaining anything in the background. Not according to this script. We as an audience are going to accept that this is a story about a strange world where Orcs, Elves, witches and fairies all exist. There are some fantasy movies that explain and explain and explain themselves, making sure the audience understands that they are in a fantasy world. Other films don't explain at all and it feels like a nuisance. It seems "Bright" is able to find the right balance, we get clues and hints at the larger history of this weird world, but its not spoon fed to us. I like that. This movie is going to need an outstanding director who has an outstanding eye for detail. That's part of the reason why Ayers is as good as he is. He has a keen eye on small details that work wonders in his movies. That is definitely what got "Suicide Squad" the Oscar on Sunday. If he brings that same detail to "Bright," and it looks from the first trailer that he has, we are going to be in for a treat. Yes, it looks like there will be some special effects work in this film, but it will mostly be grounded in reality, and I am curious to see how Ayers handles it.

Scott Ward and Jakoby are radioed to a house and a shoot-out occurs. They easily take out their opponents, go into the house and find a bloody and odd crime scene. There are a bunch of dead people in the house, people they did not shoot. They all died in very eerie ways, unnatural ways. They also find something that both of them have never really seen first hand, something rare, something that got that house full of people killed. They find a magic wand. In this story, magic wands magic wands are rare. Apparently there is one in the Smithsonian, but they are barely seen by anyone. Even in a world with fantasy creatures. Its a big fucking deal that this wand is here and people died by it. When some other cops get to the scene, they want to bury the wand. They are very aware of the power of the wand. Apparently because its magic is so great, you can do anything with it. "It makes your dick bigger" one of the cops says. They want to get rid of the wand and pin the murders on Ward's Orc partner. Ward doesn't want to do it. He has no choice. They want him to kill Jakoby. He pretends to do it, but then kills the other cops instead.

If you couldn't tell from a couple of the above paragraphs, yes this movie is a comment on our current society and culture. You may scream and moan and groan. You may say that you are going to delete your Netflix account over this. But minorities living in poverty, racism, and mistrust of police are all relevant topics that are happening right now. I give this script credit for shedding light on these topics without shoving a political agenda down your throat. Yes, there are some big metaphors at play here, but it doesn't derail the story. It elevates the material.

With the wand in the possession of Ward and Jakoby, forced to work with an Elf Girl trying to keep the wand from them, they are on the run. Because everybody is after the wand. Everyone. Human gangs. Orc Gangs. Federal agents. Corrupt cops. And most dangerous of all, the witch that accidentally left it at the scene. Oh yes, that wand belonged to the witch and the wand has special magical powers that keep our trio from getting very far in either direction. This is going to be a balls-to-the-wall action film as these three people try to survive the night. Things get crazy in several parts of the film. Its also a juicy lead for Will Smith and an equally juicy roll for Joel Edgerton. There are moments of brutality, moments of honesty and moments of humor and I think Edgerton and Smith are going to do really good work here. The script plays authentic and realistic throughout, save for one fight in the third that will be so bonkers that I honestly can't wait to see it put to screen. "Bright" will be a movie about brotherhood and bravery.

Any problems? Well, the scripts dialogue is pretty good throughout, but falls into cliche and cheese near the end. Its not a complete waste but it is distracting. It is noticeable. I don't know how far into development this script is, but I hope they had a chance to clean up the dialogue at the end a little bit before shooting. The characters are well written here, and we want to see their entire eventuality. For some reason, this script sidesteps what looks to be a big fire fight, and missing out on it feels disappointing. It seems like things wrap up very easily and fast at the end, when we are going to be begging they are drawn out. I hope this is something else that gets changed. There are also a couple of cliche moments we usually find in cop movies like this, and some stuff you can teleplay from the beginning of the script, I just hope those moments don't hit like a thud in the upcoming film.

But from what I've read, I am digging this script. I am ready for this to hit Netflix and I am interested enough in what's coming. I hope this turns to be a hit for Ayers and everyone else involved.

 "Bright" will be released on Netflix this December.

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