D: David Ayer
S: Will Smith, Joel Edgerton. Noomi Rapace USA. 1h 57m
Described as the worst movie of 2017, I had to check this out, maybe it was a PR stunt but it worked, it got me looking and I was pleasantly surprised, while constantly looking for the loopholes, terrible acting and a story that I couldn’t understand I found the opposite and was a bit more confused about why this is was coined as being so bad when I was tempted to watch it again….
Not quite realising how long the film was going to be, as a lot of current films are getting shorter for the attention span of the masses, this is a bit of an marathon, being just shy of 2 hours, but it does use all that time quite wisely while being a sort of fantasy rip off of Alien Nation (1988). Instead of aliens descending upon us, this is an alternative reality where Orc’s, Elves and other mythical beings exist. Daryl Ward (Smith) is a know it all police officer who’s been teamed up with a pariah Nick Jakoby (Edgerton) who’s an “unblooded” Orc, we learn that this makes him a bit of a hipster, who’s from a long line of other hipsters who basically don’t kill, this gives him a bum status with all the other Orcs but the humans refuse to accept him as Orcs are famed for having accepting the “darker” more evil path as part of their nature so they can’t be trusted, in the locker rooms men boast about being Orc slayers.
Weirdly the film starts with a cliché black cop getting shot scene (much like Alien Nation) but Smith wakes up a few weeks later on his day back on the force. His pessimistic views on Orcs lowers but when the pair stumble on a much converted magic Wand and a Milla Jovovich as Leeloo Minaï Lekatariba-Laminaï-Tchaï Ekbat de Sebat from Fifth Element (1997) style Elf, they end up running for their lives from a host of foes from Mexican gangs, bad tempered and offended Orcs, Elves and the Feds (led by yet another Elf and John Goodman). Will they ever manage to stop the wand falling into the wrong hands and halt the resurrection of the Dark Lord who will bring about a human apocalypse!? This sounds a bit too fairytale for a movie filled with guns and explosives but I think it’s pretty acceptable for any fantasy movie to have a big honcho who has the power to enslave a world, maybe a relation of Sauron?
The two cops seem to get along like the odd couple their love/hate relationship adds some spice to the film, generally with the Orc being on the short end but he eventually starts to give as good as he gets, but things get progressively tougher on the duo and their elf friends after a team of elves lead by a bouncy and almost silent Leilah (Rapace) are hot on their trail for the Wand but these seem more determined and almost indestructible, they seem to bounce around like X Men. But basically the two cops get beaten and battered all night and manage to talk through all their life problems, while trying to save the world and there’s nothing wrong with a good chase film.
The special effects and actions scenes are spot on, Smith spends the entire film as the one character that he can play, this was a little disappointing that he didn’t venture into something new but this particular role was perfect for him and everything that he brings to the screen, while Edgerton does seem to struggle a little under his thick prosthetics and makeup, but being quite a versatile actor he just about carries it off.
There’s a lot of history that’s not uncovered but to be honest the movie doesn’t need it. Attempts to make it a contemporary fantasy opera are achieved, we have the good guys and bad guys, a goal and treasure, and all set in a modern LA.
I had often imagined Lord of the Rings as a GTA game where all the species are different gangs and it’s pretty much come true in this film, the Orcs are underground gangs, metalheads and delinquent Yardies, the elves are high class white collar snobs in jobs with high status and fairies are just pests. I can imagine this “race” division is going to ruffle the feathers of the average snowflake but apart from that I’m still not detecting a problem here. There’s a lot of other creatures that are only hinted at, like Dwarves and there’s a dragon spotted in the night time sky scenes, so there’s plenty more to come in the second movie, if this ever manages to shake the stigma.
In all I found it refreshing to see a fantasy film that didn’t look like it was trying to mimic the Lord of the Rings (visually) but I guess I’m in the minority to enjoy this alternative action fantasy.
The worst film of 2017, definitely not, but there is room for expansion for the next movie, will it be Bright 2 or Brighter!?
R – Alien Nation (1988), Fifth Element (1997), Lord of the Rings (2001)
L – Modern fantasy films, Fantasy A-Z Vol 1.
5s – Will Smith, Joel Edgerton