This week, film and TV critics took turns hurling thunderbolts down at Will Smith's new movie Bright. The movie, which cost Netflix $90 million, is basically a remake of Colors but with fantasy creatures like orcs, elves, and faeries. The orcs are mostly gangsters and look like extras in a '90s Death Row music video. The elves are rich, and live and shop in a hyper-gentrified downtown LA. The faeries are killed like mosquitoes.
The humans hate the orcs below them and the elves above them. Whites, Mexicans, Asians, and blacks are in general agreement that LA would be a better place without all of these fucking fantasy creatures who appear to have moved into the city from the woods like bears and coyotes. There are also crooked LAPD human cops (some things never change) who want to get their corrupt hands on a magic wand (some things do change). They will kill for it. So will Mexican gangs, who are as badass as the orc gangs. One of the elite elves is played by the brilliant Venezuelan actor Edgar Ramirez (how did he end up in this movie?). An orc cop, who likes burritos, had his two front teeth filed down to make his face more human and less threatening. Now, how on earth to do you pan a film that's this crazy?
What these critics have forgotten is that criticism has limits. It can only process normal materials, like Star Wars, or King Kong, or Thor. These films are mentally digestible. Bright is not. Again, let me put this image in your mind: orcs n the hood. Can you see that? Can you imagine it? You just can't. Your imagination doesn't have that kind of power. But a $90 million budget does. Or how about this image: the lifestyles of the rich and elvish. Or how about this one: everybody wants to wand the world. Critics are foolish to believe they have the critical tools to make meaningful judgments about a movie as confounding as Bright. They just don't. I don't.
We have to admit this fact and surrender to Bright. 11 million Americans have already done so. When you have a scene featuring Will Smith (an actor no longer in his prime) swatting and killing a faerie (a miniature human) like a fly (he doesn't recognize it as a mini-human), as his next door neighbors, black gangsters (easily extras for Dr. Dre's "Nuthin' but a 'G' Thang" video) having a barbecue or some kind of gathering, complain about how the hood is not what it used to be (with all these faeries and shit), then you have to admit you have been beaten. Making sense of Bright makes no sense. Your job as a critic at this point is to simply say: you have to see it to believe it.