As we’ve learned over the last few years, representation means a lot and Hollywood is finally catching on to that fact. Minorities and People of Color are no longer gangsters, criminals and thugs. They’re now the everyman hero, the good guys, and yes, even the blockbuster superheroes. With “Dora and the Lost City of Gold” and “Hobbs and Shaw” out in theaters now, I thought it’d be a great time to continue the list of Great Minority Movie Heroes.
It’s David Ayer with another cop drama except rather than a socially relevant tale about mismatched officers of a different race or gender or religion—it’s got Orcs! “Bright” is by no means as clever as it thinks it is, as it uses fantasy tropes not to move the story forward or to lend a new twist to the cop drama, but to hammer us over the head with clumsy allegories and symbolism. Max Landis’ script is painfully stale and lacks any kind of idea as to what it’s trying to get across. It’s much too serious to take as a fantasy film, and not silly enough to take it as a meta-cop movie. Even the opening scene of Will Smith’s character beating a fairy to death on his front lawn with a broom is flat and never quite played up as a meta joke, so much as a poorly delivered device to alert us that we’re watching a “different” kind of cop movie.
As we all saw with Tarantino a few years ago, the idea of Will Smith in a Western isn’t a bad one. Smith has a modern look that’s not accessible for every film, but with the right director Smith could shine. It’s just too bad he straddled himself to Barry Sonnenfeld who casts Will in one of the most poorly conceived TV to movie adaptations of all time. “Wild Wild West” is worse than “Beverly Hillbillies” and “Charlie’s Angels” combined. What’s worse is that director Sonnenfeld has absolutely no idea how to utilize Smith in a Western setting. So by the time the movie has started, rather than rely on the pulpy martial arts theme from the original series, the movie just becomes a showcase for Will Smith to be Will Smith. Even in the old West, Smith is the wise cracking, shade wearing, cowboy who is a hit with the ladies.
You have to give it to Will Smith. For a man prone to taking the spotlight and eating it up like a gluttonous child, he really is comfortable playing second fiddle in “After Earth.” Clearly just nothing but a vanity project for Smith and his son, he literally passes the torch on to his son Jaden to take up the role of the action hero. Smith meanwhile stays in a space ship for the duration of the film as the Maguffin leading his son to the film’s second Maguffin. It’s all for naught though since Jaden Smith has no screen presence, zero charisma, and can’t act to save his life.
Roland Emmerich’s “Independence Day” is one quarter of a very decent albeit cliche alien invasion film, and three quarters an unwatchable adventure film. What opens with looming shadows and hovering space ships devolves in to a buddy comedy with catchy one-liners and plot twists much too convenient to buy. Even for a science fiction film about huge alien space ships. Apparently the government can see asteroids coming from miles away and predict when one will pass, but they can’t see space ships the size of two continents enter the atmosphere.
I can criticize his movies all I want, but Will Smith makes money out the ass, and most times without even trying at all. He can star in a bastardized remake of a classic Western show, a bastardized adaptation of a science fiction novel, or a bastardized adaptation of a classic horror novel, and the man will still bank about a billion dollars easy. Take “Hancock.” Wow. But one thing that I’ve alwys found ridiculous was that Roland Emmerich and Dean Devlin expected us to believe that these aliens have every capability to defend themselves against our forces from electromagnetic waves, lasers, bombs, and missiles, but they couldn’t protect themselves against a super virus? And it takes one virus to bring down their defense systems? Doesn’t that contradict their whole advanced technology strategy? And if they could communicate telepathically, wouldn’t it stand to reason they would operate their machines telepathically? And since when do jets travel as fast as alien technology?
Whether it makes money or not, “Hancock” will not be the next superhero franchise to break the bank, nor will it be as anticipated as the action figures from Marvel. “Hancock” has so much potential in the first half to focus on a superhero who is far from the people we get in theaters who happen to be upscale and of the Caucasian persuasion, but the turn in the second half is probably some of the most nonsensical pro-feminist propaganda I’ve ever seen, with the writers anxiously working toward taking an insignificant and uninteresting character and turning them in to someone who could contribute.
Francis Lawrence has an incredible eye for details and visuals in all the movies I’ve seen from him. Even his worst movies have some of the best surreal stark visuals I’ve ever seen, and the man knows how to implement CGI to enhance his films instead of rely on them to provide entertainment. I just wish the man made better movies. What’s it going to take for this man to bring us something spectacular? As for “I Am Legend” it’s wholly unspectacular, but without a doubt one of my favorite guilty pleasures of 2007.