Bright Star Reflects on the Netflix Movie's 'Harsh' Critical Reception (2024)


  • Joel Edgerton reflects on the mixed reaction to Bright, favoring audience responses over harsh critical reviews.
  • Bright, a Netflix film with Will Smith, defied critics with a 26% Rotten Tomatoes rating versus an 83% audience score.
  • Despite negative backlash, Bright's success almost led to a sequel, showing that public opinion matters.

Joel Edgerton recently reflected on the mixed reception of his 2017 Netflix film Bright. At the time, the action fantasy flick, co-starring Will Smith, was met with overwhelmingly negative reviews from critics but embraced by audiences. The film currently holds a 26% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, but the audience score sits at 83%. During a recent interview with Inverse, the Dark Matter actor reflected on the "harsh" critical response to Bright, saying that he is "fascinated by the critical response versus audience responses of movies."

"I have a lot of feelings about 'Bright.' In general, I'm fascinated by the critical response versus audience responses of movies. Either the audience score is super low and the critics love it, or the critics hate it, but the audience is like, 'Actually, we love this.' Occasionally you get a double win or a double loss. My brother's TV series, 'Mr Inbetween,' is one of the rare double wins.

But 'Bright' was one of those ones that I think was in the sort of low 30s for the critics, but it struck a chord with people. Netflix would be able to tell you that with their algorithms, but enough people were taking the time to rate the movie high, which meant that there was definitely an appetite for more. And I often thought the critics were a little bit too harsh on that movie."

Written by Max Landis (whose career prospects in Hollywood significantly diminished after sexual abuse allegations surfaced around the time of Bright's release) and directed by David Ayer (Suicide Squad), Bright dives into a Los Angeles replete with orcs, elves, and fairies. LAPD officer Daryl Ward (Smith) finds himself with an unlikely partner: Nick Jakoby (Edgerton), the world's first orc cop. Their tense patrol takes a wild turn when they encounter an elf with a forbidden magic wand (what the title term refers to), forcing them to fight together to keep it out of the wrong hands. Noomi Rapace, Édgar Ramírez, and Ike Barinholtz round out the cast.


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The critically panned film fared well for Netflix (with about 11 million American viewers streaming the movie within the first three days of its release), and the streamer ordered a sequel and an anime spinoff. The anime Bright: Samurai Soul premiered in 2021, again to mixed reviews. The sequel, which met several delays due to Smith's busy schedule, was axed after his Oscars debacle.

What Was the Problem With Bright?

Bright Star Reflects on the Netflix Movie's 'Harsh' Critical Reception (2)





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Release Date
December 22, 2017
David Ayer
Will Smith , Joel Edgerton , Noomi Rapace , Kenneth Choi , Brad William Henke , Lucy Fry

Main Genre
Max Landis


Holy sh*t, the overview says Among Us.

Defending Bright after its release, Edgerton stated, "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." And that "highbrow prism of film criticism" proved rough: critics slammed the film as tired, unimaginative, outdated, and unwatchable (among a slew of other unfavorable adjectives), with many going as far as dubbing it the worst movie of 2017. The same year that saw The Emoji Movie, the CHIPS reimagining, and Fifty Shades Darker drop.

Entertainment Weekly, which graded Bright a D-, did have some positive words:

"As the well-intentioned Jakoby, Edgerton is actually fairly charming under all the prosthetics and makeup, and despite the film's nonsensical plot, you can't help but root for his big-hearted orc."

Audience reviews were much more positive, with many praising the action sequences, the film's original storyline, and entertaining characters. Some critics - albeit a limited few - agreed with audiences, with the rare bright sparks feeling that the Netflix moviewas well-executed and would leave audiences wanting more.

Edgerton currently stars in Apple TV+'s Dark Matters, a sci-fi series he describes as a "multiverse version of 'It's a Wonderful Life.'"

New episodes of Dark Matter stream on Apple TV+ on Wednesdays.

Bright Star Reflects on the Netflix Movie's 'Harsh' Critical Reception (2024)
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