A room full of police officers seated at tables face the front of a meeting room. Among many humans, one officer is a blue orc.
Collaborative Blogging, Film Reviews

Bright, or: Just the Two of Orcs

We interrupt our regularly scheduled Christmas programming for what is the greatest Christmas gift of all on the blog:  a terrible Netflix original movie about cops, orcs, prophecies, and CGI creatures completely real mythical beings.

The Film:

Bright

The Premise:

Two members of the LAPD–one orc, one Will Smith–team up to prevent the prophesied return of the generic medieval fantasy-type dark wizard.

The Ramble:

Like any fantasy worth its weight in …unicorn dust(?), this one begins with a vague prophecy that attempts to be intriguing but is really just minorly irritating.  I can’t even remember what it is at this point.  Magic, magic, Dark Lord, orcs, you’re a wizard Harry.  Something along those lines.  Surely these words won’t affect our unsuspecting protagonists in modern day Los Angeles.

Note that modern day Los Angeles is a place where humans coexist with all manner of fantasy creatures:  orcs, elves, centaurs, fairies, dragons, and the like.  As one would expect, there’s an established hierarchy, with orcs as essentially the lowest of the low.  Elves, on the other hand, are akin to the 1% and even have their own district with way nicer cars and cleaner streets.  Humans seem to fall somewhere in the middle of all this.

This includes Will Smith, an officer with the LAPD.  After dramatically being shot by an orc, Will (aka Daryl Ward) is returning for his first day of work in months.  His partner Nick Jakoby is the only orc on the force, and as such is under constant suspicion by the other cops.  The situation for Nick hasn’t improved since an orc shot his partner and then escaped.

a woman in police uniform talks to a police officer
BTW, Margaret Cho is in this.

Though Ward tries to keep things professional, he obviously holds a grudge towards Nick, constantly shutting down his partner and trying to undermine him.  Not cool.  When Internal Affairs gets involved with the investigation of Ward’s shooting, he’s ready to be rid of his partner but would rather do so without any shady schemes.  The Internal Affairs reps persuade him to record his conversations with Nick and draw a career ending confession from him.

Meanwhile, Ward and Nick respond to a disturbance downtown in which a crazy guy with a sword is saying shit about the prophecy and making threats.  After they take him into custody, he tells Nick the Dark Lord is returning to claim orc hearts.  This guy is later interrogated by an elf and humans that are part of the FBI for magic.

a grubby man without a shirt blocks a busy intersection, brandishing a sword
You shall not…park here!

It may also interest you or at least be relevant for you to know that 3 wands are needed to resurrect the Dark Lord.  The catch is that only a bright can wield a wand without dying painfully.  Most brights are elves, but it is possible for a human to be a bright.  Any human, you say?  Even a cynical policeman whose life thus far has shown no indication of any magical tendencies?

Our story doesn’t go along too much further before Ward and Nick encounter a bright with a wand, an elf named Tikka.  Since the wand comes with so much power and is so valuable, the cops decide to kill Nick and take the wand for themselves.  They pressure Ward to go along with this plan, but of course he ends up being just too honorable.

a human and an orc in police uniforms walk into a dark room, guns drawn
Collateral Blue-ty?  That’s the one Will Smith movie pun I’ve got for this post.

Just when Ward and Nick escape the corrupt cops, they encounter members of a gang who make their intentions clear with incredibly painful street talk.  Ah-eh-eh-em:  “Word on the street, there’s a wand in this ‘hood” and “The wand belongs to the barrio” are 2 shining examples.

Basically, the point here is that everyone wants the wand.  Ward, Nick, and Tikka must dodge all of their rivals and prevent their worst enemy from rising in the form of the Dark Lord.

This, of course, leads to a showdown between our 3 heroes and the evil group of elves who want to bring the Dark Lord back to wreak havoc, destruction, etc on the world.  Who will emerge triumphant?

The Rating:

2/5 Pink Panther Heads

Though it promises a genre-bending thrill ride, this one is sadly forgettable.  Most of the plot feels like a carbon copy of all other police dramas, and it’s too reluctant to fully embrace its weirdness.  The fantasy elements seem tacked on unnecessarily rather than fresh or fun.  That’s one of the biggest disappointments of this film–for such an off-the-wall premise, there’s a distinct lack of fun here.

The social commentary about racism tries really hard, but it doesn’t feel particularly noteworthy, nor half as clever as it thinks it is.  In fact, some of the especially cringeworthy gang stereotypes undermine that message.  I want to give this film props for trying, but it gets a lot wrong and handles things too clumsily for it to succeed.

Additionally, the characters and character relationships fall flat.  I think(?) Ward is supposed to be the grizzled old timer and Nick the wide-eyed rookie cop, but both feel bland and tired.  I guess they’re so boring they deserve each other, but at the same time I didn’t get a sense of a genuine connection between the two.  There’s never a time when the relationship between Ward and Nick shifts, even after facing countless near death experiences together.  Beyond that, the minor characters are pretty uninteresting too, and Ward’s wife and daughter are basically props.

There’s nothing to mark this as a blight to film making; on the other hand, there’s nothing much to remember about this one at all.

Would Christa raise this one from the dead as prophesied or push it down a bottomless pit?  Find out in her review here!

Blogging 101, Film Reviews

The Visitors: Qu’est-ce que c’est?

The Film:

The Visitors

Where to Watch:

Netflix

The Premise:

A 12th-century knight and his servant attempt to return to their own time after being transported to the 20th century.  Hijinks ensue.

The Uncondensed Version:

This movie is so weird, guys.

It starts out with Sir Godefroy travelling to marry his fiancée, Frénégonde, after saving the King of France; however, en route he encounters a witch.  Instead of killing her, he brings her back to the castle to burn her.  I’m not really clear why.  Possibly so the people will at least get to enjoy the entertainment of a public execution.  Or maybe medieval knights were way bigger believers in habeas corpus than I realized?  Either way, this turns out to be a really bad idea.  The witch drugs Godefroy so that he believes his fiancée’s father is a bear and kills him.  You can be sure that wedding isn’t happening now.

In an effort to change these events, Godefroy asks a wizard to send him back in time.  Because I guess even though witches practice dark magic, wizardry is perfectly acceptable to the typical medieval knight.

a man with a long white beard proclaims "Time is a mountain, pierced by many hidden tunnels."
Seriously, you’re going to trust this guy with your life?

The wizard makes everything much worse by, in fact, sending Godefroy and his servant, Jacquouille, to the 1990s.  There, Godefroy encounters his descendant, Béatrice, who looks EXACTLY like his fiancée.  There were, in fact, a few times when I thought she was going to become her own great-great-great (etc.) grandmother, which was so uncomfortable.  Don’t sleep with your ancestors.  That is the first rule of time travel.  (It’s okay…nobody breaks this rule in The Visitors, but it comes pretty close.)

Béatrice, for her part, spends the majority of the film thinking Godefroy is her long-lost racecar driver cousin.  So she is usually trying to reintroduce him in polite society, which equates to cleaning up his messes.

a man in a flowing white shirt declares "A fine man, this Robespierre."
One of many cultural misunderstandings.

I don’t want this to be the longest entry ever and I would like to leave plenty of space for me to rant, so suffice it to say Godefroy keeps trying to find a way back to the 12th century for the rest of the movie.  I think there were a lot of puns and general archaic language I didn’t understand.

Finally, one of the wizard’s descendants gives Godefroy a potion that will take him back to the past.  Godefroy and Béatrice share a moment in which they proclaim how glad they are to have met each other.  I SERIOUSLY DON’T UNDERSTAND WHY SHE WAS GLAD TO MEET HIM.  HE JUST FUCKED EVERYTHING UP.  I was also having a major Kindred (Octavia Butler) moment and thinking that this is why you’d never want to actually meet your ancestors:  you don’t want to know all of the awful, screwed-up things they have done, no matter how normal or even honorable they were considered at the time.

two men in medieval garb unravel the toilet paper in a public bathroom
They are basically cats in terms of the ability to fuck with EXACTLY what you would prefer they leave alone.

The end was pretty funny, though.  Jacquouille switches places with his descendant, who’s a huge jerk, and manages to stay in the 20th century with his girlfriend.  I felt (appropriately for this blog) it was a bit of a Pink Panther ending.

Meanwhile, Godefroy returns to the 12th century, kills the witch, marries Frénégonde, and everyone lives happily ever after.  Well, everyone besides the witch, that is.

The Critique:

I think I’m used to the kind of time travel movie where you have to learn a heartwarming lesson about yourself and/or the importance of family.  Probably the influence of too much Disney/Back to the Future.  Sooooooooooo I was pretty much expecting Enchanted in French, but also Monty Python.  OKAY, FINE, I DON’T KNOW WHAT I WANT.  But Godefroy didn’t learn anything from his whole time-travel escapade, and that upset me.

a man in chainmail armor commands "Bow down before me, and I shall be clement"
Maybe the only lesson here is that a 12th-century French knight will act like a dick in every century.

And I couldn’t help thinking Jacquouille’s got it right in this situation.  I suppose no matter what time you are from, you would probably want to get back because it’s full of the people, geography, and worldview you are familiar with.  But I don’t know, if you could live in a time and place in which you are less likely to die of the plague or an infected splinter or whatnot, wouldn’t that be appealing?  Wouldn’t you at least take some penicillin with you?

There’s apparently a sequel as well as an American remake (of course), but I’m not sure I’ll add those to the bucket list.  They both look so very painful.

The Rating:

Small Pink PantherSmall Pink PantherSmall Pink Panther3/5 Pink Panther heads

Sorry every film I review seems to be a 3/5.  Just remember the bell curve, okay?