We don’t know how excited you were when Netflix first announced that they had hired David Ayer to direct a film from a Max Landis script about a gritty cop drama set in an alternate reality version of L.A., where humans coexist with orcs, elves and fairies. But if you were excited, chances are the last couple of trailers haven’t helped much to maintain the hype.
The newest trailer for Netflix’s Bright dropped today, and it … doesn’t look great. Starting with a scene that is clearly supposed to be very funny that features Will Smith’s human character telling Joel Edgerton’s orc character that orcish music is bad, the trailer never displays any particularly interesting laughs, thrills or chills.
What it does display is a lot of alarmingly superficial “jokes” about race relations and police brutality. Landis and Ayer, who are both white, seem to think making jokes about how “fairy lives don’t matter,” a direct and derisive reference to Black Lives Matter, is extremely good and funny. And a lot of the humor seems to revolve around Smith’s human character being racist toward mythological creatures (Smith has said that he enjoys this aspect of the role: “it just felt really great to play an African-American police officer who just found somebody else to be racist against”). The film seems to want us to empathize with Edgerton’s orcish character for the hardships his race suffers, but from what we’ve seen from the trailers, Smith’s character’s racial attitudes and casual brutality are played off as humor, completely undercutting any attempts at inspiring genuine sympathy.
Now, the movie isn’t out yet, so we can’t judge. There’s always a chance that the marketing strategy is completely different from the heart of the film itself, and Bright will actually be so good that we’ll see it in awards pushes in a little while. And at the very least, no matter how good or bad it is, no one can deny how unique it is. But just going off of what we’ve seen? We don’t have our hopes up anymore.
Bright releases Dec. 22. You can watch the previous trailers here and here.