When Will Smith wields a sword in the trailer for the new urban fantasy film Bright, it could be laughable, but it isn’t. Unlike a tongue-in-cheek fantasy police procedural, this forthcoming contemporary mythical world seems to take itself a little more seriously. Cops with swords? Will Smith with an Orc partner? Bright might sound slightly silly, but for cinematic fantasy, it looks refreshingly new.
If the grittiness of The Magicians were combined with epic quality of The Lord of the Rings plus Will Smith’s other famous cop movie, Bad Boys, the result would resemble the trailer for the fantasy film Bright. On IMDb, the synopsis for the film describes it as being set in an “alternate present” which just happens to be populated by magical creatures. Will Smith’s character is a cop named Scott Ward who will have to team up with an Orc named Nick Jakoby, played by Joel Edgerton.
The script for Bright is written by Max Landis, which is also a good sign for fantasy fans. Landis is responsible for scripting the witty thrills of last year’s Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency, as well as executive producing the horror series Channel Zero on the Syfy Channel. If someone can bring humanity to this out-of-control premise, it’s probably Landis.
Still, a movie like this is historically risky. Generally, human and non-human buddy cop premises don’t turn out well, at least in terms of popular opinion. For every good entry like Alien Nation, there’s also a big misstep like the infamous dinosaur-human Whoopi Goldberg cop movie, Theodore Rex.
But because Bright has a straightforward feeling to its first trailer, it might be able to jettison the baggage a film like R.I.P.D. had in terms of finding its audience. While urban fantasy cop movies can produce cult classics, they sometimes struggle on the believability front. But the audaciousness and seamless realism of Bright could subvert that curse. Cops with broadswords make for great imagery, but Orcs with shotguns are even better. Bright releases late in 2017 on Netflix.
The trailer debuted Sunday during the 89th Academy Awards.