Netflix's Bright

Last year was an interesting one for the film industry. First, ticket sales were the lowest they’ve been in 25 years at the U.S. box office. Second, the divide between critics and fans widened. And third, streaming services showed the future of the film industry will be in our living rooms, with the release of the blockbuster Bright.

It’s worth noting that all three of those points are linked in a way. In the past we’d trust reviews to see if it’s worthwhile seeing a film. Now, with the constant divide in fan and critical receptions, the average Joe would rather wait for a movie to drop on a streaming service than take a chance at the cinema theatre. Who suffers from this? The cinemas and studios do.

This is where David Ayer’s Bright changes the whole game.

The Bright Effect

Bright was Netflix’s first venture into Hollywood blockbuster territory. Costing a reported $90 million and bringing in big guns like Will Smith and Joel Edgerton, it was an ambitious effort. Almost like clockwork, though, the critics trashed it, with some calling it the worst movie of 2017.

The bad word of mouth was ominous, but many viewers pointed out that they were apprehensive of critical reviews considering the earlier disagreements over mother! and Star Wars: The Last Jedi. Suddenly, critical consensus meant diddlysquat and people wanted to see the movie for themselves.

Fast-forward to after Bright‘s release and it was viewed 11 million times in three days, with a heap of praise coming from the people who watched it. While the critical consensus on Rotten Tomatoes sits at 28%, its Audience Score is 87%, displaying yet another case of polarising views.

With such tremendous viewership numbers and fan reaction to Bright, a sequel was quickly announced. The critical consensus didn’t harm the film or the franchise one bit.

Bright on Rotten Tomatoes

Critical Consensus Means Nothing

The critic versus fan war isn’t done any favours by either side, though. Take a gander at Twitter and you’ll see critics blasting fans for supporting “bad” movies and generally making dickheads of themselves by isolating their readership rather than engaging them. Fans also seem to think that many critics have it in for certain movies, possess hive minds, and are paid by Disney to give good reviews (where’s my cheque, Mickey?).

Reviews are merely someone else’s opinion, and reviewers do get it wrong, too. Look at cult classic films such as The Boondock Saints and Fight Club: both are perfect examples of incredible films that many critics just didn’t get when they were released. Now, it’s unfathomable to even think they could’ve been received so poorly.

Unfortunately, in the age of the Internet, the noise is amplified. As I’ve said before, due to the nature of how hits drive ad revenue, balanced opinions are often cast aside for the sake of hyperbolic reactions that bring in more traffic. Look at the review stating that the Bright is the worst film of the year – it’s an intentionally over-the-top opinion made for a headline. Seriously, in a year where we’ve received the likes of The Emoji Movie and Fifty Shades Darker, Bright is certainly far from the worst film.

Do We Care About Reviews If A Movie Is “Free”?

If you had a Netflix account, you could’ve watched Bright without having to pay a fee. You could sit in your own home, with your own snacks, and watch a blockbuster without having to deal with other cinema patrons, traffic, popcorn queues, etc. Think about that for a second. It’s an invaluable experience.

It’s rather obvious why ticket sales are down. Streaming services are providing a host of good content for an affordable price, while the cinema-going exercise only becomes more expensive and you have to deal with everyone else’s bad upbringing.

So, does this impact how you view a film? I believe so. The first time I watched Logan, for example, there were two people next to me trying to make a baby. It soured my experience of the film and had I been reviewing it, I probably wouldn’t have seen the masterpiece it is after a second viewing in private.

Additionally, if something is “free”, in the sense that it’s on your streaming platform, will you care as much as if you’d paid for it? At the end of the day, if the movie’s bad, all you’ve lost is your time and not your money. Isn’t that a game-changer?

Gangster Orcs in Bright

The Future

That said, there will still be a lot of people who rely on reviews to filter out the sheer amount of content out there. However, I imagine the trend to see the audience following the opinions of the people whom they value. Instead of following the consensus of something like Rotten Tomatoes, we’ll trust our friends, favourite websites, and reviewers more. And let’s face it: the 52-year-old film critic at The New York Times isn’t going to like the same films as the 30-year-old guy at Slash Film does.

We’re on the verge of a new age in how we view and discuss films. Some people are going to enjoy it and some won’t. All things considered, though, it’s best to keep the following in mind: learn to think for yourself and remember that there’s no such thing as a guilty pleasure. Bright could very well be the catalyst for this change.

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  1. I fully agree. A movie does not always have to be a poignant piece of art with overly serious plot lines and characters. I watch a movie to escape reality and live the life of a character. Not to do serious introspection or realize the world is a screwed up place.

  2. People will always complain about things these days it’s almost like they get more enjoyment from ripping a film to shreads than watching the film almost like it gives them a false sense of intellectual superiority just because they don’t like something. These days everyone’s a film critic just enjoy something ffs it’s fun

  3. Call me a theorist but I do believe that many of these criticisms are paid in advance for there “magical” ratings. Take Marvel vs DC for instance. Movies like Civil War are called BEST movies and perfect scores but yet there are just too many damn plot holes that don’t make sense.

  4. Critics reviews and awards shows are just more gratification for the highly paid actors/staff. Bad reviews equals an entertaining movie, award shows make diseased rhinoceros pizzle sound appetizing.

  5. This is an example of an area that the internet has not improved. Today, you have tons of “film critics” eviscerating movies out of an inherent wrong-headedness. I put movie critics in scare quotes because most of them have never been to film school, went to school for journalism, or have ever been apart of the process of making a movie. They are mostly young people who think that because they have seen all of the marvel movies and Blade Runner: extended cut, they are qualified to give a critique of a film.

    Contrary to what these amateurs believe, film criticism, or any kind of professional critique, is less about how a product made you feel, whether you liked it or not, (though that is part of it) and more about analyzing the craft that went into making it. In order to provide a creditable analysis, you need to know at least something of the process. Many of these critics don’t.

    It’s perfectly ok to post your feelings and opinions about a film, whether or not you have said experience. The problem is when media outlets hire bloggers on the cheap as their “film critics”. They aren’t. They’re bloggers.

    This leads me to the second way that the internet has ruined film criticism: the click economy. Today, money is earned from clicks, which has very little to do with content. If someone writes an inflammatory review, that is purposefully biased to sound outraged, they get your click, they don’t care if what they wrote is necessarily objective or creditable, they got your click. They don’t care how you, the consumer feels, they got your click. It has been proven that angry, contentious headlines garner more clicks than positive ones. This incentivizes bad reviews, and dishonest reviews.

    In conclusion: whereas before, it was actually sound to go to your news paper and read a review of an upcoming film to know whether or not you should spend your hard-earned cash. Such is not the case today, and especially not on the internet. Therefore, you are left to use your own judgement, go see whatever film looks interesting to you, and like what you want to like, for whatever reason. And Fuck the haters.

  6. Bad movies have gone on to become hugely popular despite negative critical reception forEVER! Only difference is that now you don’t have to put in the physical effort to get a pirate copy or travel to the cinema.

  7. Zach Groenewald

    I think this opinion is strongly echoed by Netflix no longer showing rating out of 5 stars, but percentage match to other shows I’ve watched. It’s not about whether something is good or bad, but whether I personally will like it based on what people with similar tastes enjoy.

  8. Nic Gonzalez

    Good points. After seeing Bright, I was clueless as to how anyone could label it the “worst film of the year”.

    On another note, I do find it pretty sad that ticket sales are down at the moment, and especially if one of the main reasons in that is the frustrating cinema-going experience due to inconsiderate and bad-mannered people in the cinema. Going to the cinema is still my favourite way to experience a film, and it would be very depressing to see an ongoing decline in sales.

  9. The amount of time film critics have been wrong or touted that turned out to be a really really rubbish film
    I just have one film to put forward as an example of films the critics said was rubbish
    The Shawshank redemption
    Word of mouth is a far better way to judge a film

  10. Nerine Dorman

    What I liked about Bright was that it didn’t take itself too seriously yet also unpacked a load of social issues without me feeling as if the producers were trying to whack me in the face with their agenda.

    The world-building itself was also incredibly rich. All the time I found myself peeking at things happening on the periphery of the screen, and noticing stuff like the police centaurs or the dragon flying near the full moon. That sort of attention to detail makes me happy. And then there were the subversive elements, with a whiff of Shadowrun.

    Was the film perfect? No. I’m sure a closer look will reveal many flaws. Was I entertained? Most certainly yes.

    This need by modern media to constantly rip ever cultural object to shreds for the sake of garnering outrage and, of course, viewers’ attention is symptomatic of the times in which we live. That being said, I like to read balanced reviews that try to look at what works, and what doesn’t. That at least suggests that the writer has taken a little time to put their thoughts in order and isn’t just wanking their opinion out on the page.

  11. “Learn to think for yourself”
    The most important line of this entire article.
    It’s cool to get someone’s opinion on something, especially when you and that person (friend, blogger, whoever) share similar interests.
    Another key aspect after formulating your own opinion is to respect the next persons. One man’s kak is another man’s kwaai.
    On that note, I’m SUPER glad audiences are loving Bright, I can’t wait to see it!

  12. Now rotten tomatoes and IMDb are useful because they reflect scores that you find favourable??? Please… you guys are the hive mind. You’ll agree with anyone who shares an opinion that you have. I’ll be more inclined to listen to a professional critic or someone who has a background in film studies/art/critical cultural theory over anyone who thinks that slow-mo montages, explosions and “fairy lives dont matter” equal a good film.

  13. Ches

    Bright was awesome! Critics r a dying breed! I think most Ppl rely on FAM/friends/colleagues for reviews. a critic said new Spiderman was 5 stars….it was average at best! My worst 2017 movies were Thor Ragnarok and Killing Gunther! But don’t take my word for it…c it urself 😉

  14. Sxova

    You’d have to be an on another level of stupid to watch on not watch a movie based on a review a recognized critic has published. Just because I don’t like a certain film or hate certain actor, producer, director, etc, that don’t mean you should listen and heed my warnings about the film they’ve made.

    We all have brains, DUUUUUUUH!!! Use your brain and decide for yourself. Studios releases Trailers, watch those and decide if its worth it or not because you never know what state of mind the so-called critic was at when writing the review (positive or negative).

    My point is, “professional” film critics are overrated and studios pay these people give good reviews on their films or give bad reviews on the films competing with them.

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