‘Worst movie of 2017’? Director responds
IF you had high hopes for Netflix's first real blockbuster, prepare to be disappointed. Reviews of Bright, the Will Smith-led sci-fi/fantasy film, came out last night, and it's safe to say that the streaming platform can't be happy. Critics were rough on the movie, insisting that it's a total "disaster," an "embarrassing" attempt at film making, and "profoundly awful." IndieWire's David Ehrlich even went so far as to call Bright "the worst movie of 2017," which is a bold statement to make in the year of The Emoji Movie.
News.com.au's own Wenlei Ma called it a "stinker to avoid", giving it a paltry one star out of five.
Much of the criticism was directed towards the film's director David Ayer, the man behind another critical flop, Suicide Squad. Critics couldn't help comparing the two, and many felt that if Ayer had learned from his mistakes, Bright wouldn't be nearly as bad. The Wrap's Todd Gilchrist wrote, "Bright shares in common several of the shortcomings of Ayer's previous film, including conspicuous evidence of desperate efforts to cobble its under-explained and yet somehow overcomplicated mythology into something coherent." Ouch.
Ayer, to his credit, didn't remain quiet in the face of the film's bad PR. In response to Ehrlich's claim that Bright is "so profoundly awful that Republicans will probably try to pass it into law over Christmas break," Ayer tweeted that the critic's sentiment is the highest compliment. It's a classy move from a director who is being dragged so publicly for his work.
This is going on my fridge. Highest compliment is a strong reaction either way. This is a f*cking epic review. It’s a big fun movie. You can sure string words together Mr. Erlich. I’d love to read any script you’ve written.— David Ayer (@DavidAyerMovies) December 21, 2017
A few highlights from other negative reviews include:
"Stars Will Smith and Joel Edgerton play it mostly straight here, doing their part to sell the dopey premise, but the screenplay offers viewers little reward for our own suspension of disbelief … Its potential as a franchise-starter is laughably small." - John DeFore, The Hollywood Reporter.
"It's hard to imagine Bright inspiring anyone to want to see or make a full-blown series of films. Aside from a few nifty ideas and the occasional amusing or exciting scene, this film is a chore." - Noel Murray, The LA Times.
"Bright is a movie that spends far too much time explaining itself - and, often, re-explaining itself - that the actual story, when we finally get to it, is not much more than empty gunshots and blood splatter with a faerie tale twist." - Vinnie Mancuso, Collider.
Peter Debruge at Variety was nicer than his colleagues, calling Bright an "ambitious, yet astonishingly well-executed Netflix tentpole [that] directly benefits from the way Ayers' gritty, streetwise sensibility grounds [writer Max] Landis' gift for creating an elaborate comic-book mythology." While Debruge did take issue with certain elements of the film, it's good to see that there's a little variation in the critical consensus.
As it stands, Bright has the potential to be a film that greatly divides critics and audiences, as Star Wars: The Last Jedi did just last week. On Rotten Tomatoes, the movie has a 32% fresh rating from critics but a 96% "Want to See" rating from regular viewers. The jury is still out on what the audience rating will look like after Bright's premiere tomorrow, but there's no denying that this numeric discrepancy is huge. Like most things in 2017, movie opinions have become very polarising, and critics and audiences often find themselves on opposite ends of the spectrum.
If the execs over at Netflix are hoping for anything, it's likely that viewers will turn out in droves to stream Bright despite the overwhelmingly negative critical opinion. Otherwise, they're looking at a $100 million bust.
This story originally appeared on Decider and is republished with permission.