I’ve always been fascinated by the world of Warhammer 40K, the tabletop miniatures game where space marines and orcs and dwarves and elves all do battle across the galaxy, hitting traditional fantasy tropes in a science fiction landscape. After all, what happens to that Tolkien-esque fantasy world as the centuries start to fly by? Surely it has to change. Surely it can’t remain stagnant. Surely medieval fantasy has to escape the medieval setting at some point, right?
And that’s why I’m intrigued by Netflix’s upcoming Bright, a modern dar buddy cop movie that just-so-happens to be set in a world where humans, orcs, elves, and fairies have all co-existed for millennia. What does high fantasy look like when it’s brought low, down to the mean streets of Los Angeles? A new batch of images give us a clue.
The photos were released alongside a fake press release, a cute way of cluing us into how much the fantasy world of Bright is like and unlike our own:
Today, the South Central Los Angeles Police Force announced that Nicolas Jakoby, the first ever Orc Police Officer, joined the department solidifying their commitment to diversity and their acceptance of all communities and races. Jakoby will be partnering with the esteemed Human Officer Scott Ward and providing much needed insight into the Orc community in the Los Angeles area.
“Orcs have been a part of our society for over a millennia and we welcome all who are ready and willing to serve on the force. Jakoby will be an excellent partner to Ward.” said Captain Perez.
In the film, Nicolas Jakoby is played by Joel Edgerton (under heavy prosthetics) while Scott Ward is played by Will Smith. David Ayer, the director of cop movies like End of Watch and blockbusters like Suicide Squad, is behind the camera. This is the kind of line-up you’d expect to see in multiplexes, not on Netflix, but the times, they are a’changin’ and all. It’s weird to note that a not-inexpensive movie starring one of the most famous men in the world had to turn to a streaming service to get made. However, it’s even weirder that a streaming service getting in the Will Smith business doesn’t even seem that strange anymore.
Anyway, the photos show off Smith and Edgerton in action and I’ll say this much: that orc make-up looks so much better under proper lighting than it did in the early set pictures that hit the internet last year. I especially like how the look of the film, also glimpsed in the first teaser trailer, is very much a gritty cop movie…just with orcs and elves.
Speaking with Entertainment Weekly, Edgerton elaborated on how the film blends the mundane and the fantastical, explaining the immense pressure his orc cop faces once he’s on the force:
I am the first orc, under a diversity program, to be allowed into the police force.I’m under investigation already for an incident that involved an orc who should have been apprehended but managed to escape. The feeling is that I looked after my own kind first and neglected to do my job as a result.
Meanwhile, Smith described a scene that, presence of mystical beasts or not, feels like it was torn out of modern headlines:
There’s a great scene where we’re sitting in the car, and the other police officers are beating up an orc. My character asks [Edgerton’s] the question, ‘Are you a cop first or an orc first? You need to decide.’
Bright arrives on Netflix this December. Here’s the official synopsis:
Set in an alternate present-day where humans, orcs, elves and fairies have been coexisting since the beginning of time, this action-thriller directed by David Ayer (Suicide Squad, End of Watch, writer of Training Day) follows two cops from very different backgrounds. Ward, a human (Will Smith), and Jakoby, an orc (Joel Edgerton), embark on a routine night patrol that will alter the future of their world as they know it. Battling both their own personal differences as well as an onslaught of enemies, they must work together to protect a young female elf and a thought-to-be-forgotten relic, which in the wrong hands could destroy everything.
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