Bright star Joel Edgerton has called the film the "inverse" of Star Wars: The Last Jedi, which would make it a film critically panned but accepted and enjoyed by audiences. The actor discussed the Netflix film while promoting his latest project Red Sparrow and had a few choice words to say about Bright, Netflix, and the new strides that the movie industry is taking to create content.
Bright stars Will Smith as LAPD officer Daryl Ward and Edgerton as Nick Jakoby in an alternate Los Angeles where magic exists. Smith's Ward deals with being assigned Edgerton's Jakoby, the first orc police officer, as a partner. While confronting his biases against orcs, the pair find themselves tangled up in a mystery dealing with elvish magic, orc street gangs, and a mysterious prophecy that centers around Smith's officer Ward who discovers that he is a 'Bright', one in a thousand human beings capable of actually using magic without it killing them. With gorgeous sets, good cinematography, and a unique premise, it was primed for success at Netflix, but the film garnered the ire of critics who found the storytelling lackluster, the character arcs off-putting, and the overall product below par for the streaming service.
Edgerton discussed that discrepancy with Collider, concluding that the film got extra "critical hate" because putting a blockbuster on Netflix was about "changing the landscape of the movie business." The actor went on to say that the film deserves to be "reviewed by public opinion" as opposed to the highbrow prism of film criticism.
“All I know is what was reported, which was something like—whatever number was reported—something like 11 million that first weekend. Whatever it was, it amounted to a $100 million-plus opening weekend. But, I have to be honest, that’s considering that people don’t have to get in their car, go buy a ticket, go buy the popcorn. There’s a certain age where you can roll over and press play on the remote control. But, according to them, the numbers were there. And I think that would be supported by the wild discrepancy between the audience score and the Rotten Tomatoes aggregate score, it’s almost the inverse of Star Wars: The Last Jedi. You’ve got critics at 93 or 92%, and the audience gave it a 50-something, and you get to Bright, which is sort of slammed by critics, but it has a 90% audience score. I think there was a little bit of extra critical hate towards it because it’s changing the landscape of the movie business, but I think Bright is maybe a movie that needs to be reviewed by public opinion rather than viewed through the highbrow prism of film criticism.”
The film is already greenlit for a sequel where Edgerton and Smith are expected to reprise their roles. While Bright 's numbers were enough to warrant Netflix backing a sequel, it's worth considering that Edgerton might have a point about critical reception. The streaming service's The Cloverfield Paradox was also met with similarly poor reviews from critics while audiences enjoyed the film.
When you compare Bright, and to a lesser extent The Cloverfield Paradox, to the overwhelming number of critically acclaimed Netflix films including the Oscar-nominated Mudbound that argument gets unclear. Audiences appear to enjoy what they'll enjoy and critics hold films to the same standard they hold all films to. Netflix is changing the landscape of the movie business, but calling Bright the inverse of Star Wars: The Last Jedi proves that audiences and critics will argue and disagree. The old adage, "the more things change the more they stay the same" seems to apply, but thankfully in the movie business, you can make changes in a sequel.