I was on the fence about watching Bright. Reviews seemed polarized: either you enjoyed it, or you thought the plot was nonsense. The consensus among my friends was tied, so I decided to see for myself.

I found Bright to be a perfectly good action movie in a well-developed fantasy world. If you are interested but have also heard conflicting reports, here’s the feminist review of Bright.

The title Bright behind a futuristic LA skyline

Not offensive to women = 1/1 pt

No gratuitous violence against women either as background or as a driving plot force, something action movies often rely on.

Women as main/supporting characters = 2/2 pts

There are many supporting women characters in many roles. The primary female characters are Leilah, a member of the evil Inferni, and Tikka, a defector from that group.

Passes the Bechdel-Wallace test = 3/3 pts

Shockingly yes, in the final scenes of the film. Despite having two major female characters, neither one speaks for the majority of the film. The two finally meet at the very end, manage to trade a couple lines of dialogue, and therefore pass the Bechdel-Wallace test. The movie does pass for racial inclusion as well, but not LGBT inclusion.


Graffiti of an orc skull on a wall, with a bullet through its forehead
Text reads “In the beginning god created all races equal…but elves are more equal”

Artistic and/or Entertaining = 4/4

The world of Bright is based heavily on the racial paradigms in our world. The super-wealthy elves control much of the machinations of the city, though they live apart from everyone, isolated in a clean, crime-free section of the city. All elves are white. Meanwhile, the rest of LA is a diverse mix of human races and orc clans.

Jackoby (Joel Edgerton) is the first orc police officer, but faces a lot of pushback even from his partner, Ward (Will Smith). Orcs are hated because they are still blamed for fighting on the side of the Dark Lord many years ago.

Jackoby and Ward are responding to a call when they find themselves in possession of a magic wand, an extremely rare magical object. Suddenly everyone is after them. A group looking to bring back the Dark Lord, a group trying to stop the return of the Dark Lord, a magic control unit of the FBI, and every human in the city, knowing possession of the wand would grant their every desire.

Ward and Jakoby in a police car
Ward and Jakoby

I loved the complicated world we were dropped into. You had to figure some things out along the way but I liked that. The sets were great, the attention to world-building detail was pretty impressive. I was intrigued by the idea of orc culture and the concept of an orc-Jesus. Were there holes in the plot? Definitely. I was left with quite a few questions, and sometimes the creators went for visual flair when it didn’t quite make sense in the magic system. But you can’t set the bar too high for an action movie, and I thought overall Bright was very entertaining.

Above & Beyond the General Media: 0/5

Sorry, Bright! No points in this category. Bright pulled from the standard action-movie template, taking few risks despite the rich world. While the movie touched on larger themes (specifically race relations) it never delved in quite deeply enough to say anything revolutionary. The movie had a good message about learning about someone different from you, but since that’s the same level of simplicity as a children’s book, Bright can be categorized as enjoyable and non-offensive, but certainly not above and beyond.

Overall: 10/15 on the Scale:

Yellow ten (10) inside of a pink Venus symbol


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