Review: After Earth

afterearthposterAfter Earth

  • Starring: Will Smith (Independence Day), Jaden Smith (Karate Kid), Zoë Isabella Kravitz (X-Men: First Class) and more.
  • Directed by: M. Night Shyamalan (Signs)
  • Synopsis: “In After Earth, one thousand years after cataclysmic events forced humanity’s escape from Earth, Nova Prime has become mankind’s new home. Legendary General Cypher Raige (played by Will Smith) returns from an extended tour of duty to his estranged family, ready to be a father to his 13-year-old son, Kitai (played by Jaden Smith). When an asteroid storm damages Cypher and Kitai’s craft, they crash-land on a now unfamiliar and dangerous Earth. As his father lies dying in the cockpit, Kitai must trek across the hostile terrain to recover their rescue beacon. His whole life, Kitai has wanted nothing more than to be a soldier like his father. Today, he gets his chance.”
  • Rated: Rated PG-13 for violence, intense sequences and mild language.
  • Must-Watch Trailer:
  • Review:

First off, I’m going to tell you a few things about many preconceived notions about After Earth:

Calm down! It isn't THAT bad!
Calm down! It isn’t THAT bad!
  1. Just because it has M. Night Shyamalan’s name (which is notably missing from the posters I might add) attached to it, doesn’t mean that it is open season for all of the M. Night Shyamal-haters to bash it.
  2. Rotten Tomatoes, known to be pretty harsh on movies, spares no expense in that department on this film…and After Earth is not so deserving of RT’s hatred.
  3. It may surprise you to know that this is the first time that Will Smith is credited with “Story By” production input.
  4. Even if you are not a fan of Jaden Smith…that is still no reason to skip this film. (Much like I am disappointed in hearing movie fans refuse to watch a movie with Tom Cruise simply because they don’t like him. SMH)
  5. Speaking of Tom Cruise…after the disappointment that was Oblivion (see my review), you should welcome another chance to visit a story taking place on a futuristic Earth.

oblivion afterearth

All that being said, it is true that After Earth will not make your list of “Best Movies Ever,” nor will it get any awards for its less than impressive CGI special effects, but…it isn’t as bad as it is being made out to be. Hit the jump to read more of my thoughts on M. Night Shyamalan’s After Earth.After-Earth

Don’t fear what the critics say too much!

Admittedly, I was disappointed to see that this film is more of a Jaden Smith movie than a Will Smith movie (Will Smith being one of my favorite Hollywood actors), but while acting is definitely not one of Jaden’s strong suits, his involvement adds to the father-son story and makes it a futuristic Pursuit of Happyness, if you will, with a scientific twist nowhere near as touching as the estranged two are put in extreme circumstances that make them both grow and patch their relationship…or fail and succumb to certain death.After Earth

Viewers may rejoice in the fact that not much of Shyamalan’s fingerprint is on the film, however, his knack for storytelling is present, and, for me, was a welcome addition. The beginning groundwork that the story lays out puts up the basic ground rules and physics that play a part throughout the film (much like in The Sixth Sense, Unbreakable, Lady in the Water, etc.) and that is a plus. In textbook fashion though, the story ultimately falls flat as it takes staple characters through expected trials and less-than important flashbacks to tell a story of overcoming fear and fighting for more than just life. Not much makes audiences care for the characters more than caring about what the dangerous creature that is hunting the humans is.After-Earth-spot

You can say this: it’s beautiful. Filmed in many areas around the world including Costa Rica and Switzerland, the depiction of deserted Earth 1,000 years after mankind’s evacuation is gorgeous. Although the underlying message of “you better take care of the Earth or else it is going to turn on you” similar to The Happening is a little off-putting. Just a tad.after-earth-movie-photo06

Something unique about the film that I liked that I fear will be overlooked by many reviewers and critics is the technology in the film…and especially Jaden’s character’s suit and weapon. They were characters of the film in their own right, to an extent, and I enjoyed “watching” them go through their own changes alongside Kitai (Jaden), Cypher (Will) and the Earth itself who all underwent changes of their own.afterearth1

Despite all that, too much in the film is convenient. The familiar characters, their familiar internal struggles, the familiar foretelling all throughout the film…it is redundant. And, as much as this is a Jaden film, it is still Will that makes it the most believable. I’m not willing to go so far as to say that this film is horrible as so many other critics have, but, I will say that it is still “OKAY…at best.”afterearth5

In relation to Will Smith’s movies:

  • After Earth > Seven Pounds
  • After Earth < I, Robot

In relation to M. Night Shyamalan’s movies:

  • After Earth > The Happening -this formula is true for almost ANY movie! 🙂
  • After Earth < Unbreakable

Well, there you have it. After Earth: a beautiful film full of “science not-so-fiction”, 2-dimensional characters, badly animated computer generated animals and an all too familiar plot coated under a different and intriguing premise. With a fluctuating focus, After Earth lacks the power to create the emotional punch of overcoming that it seeks to land…even with the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air on board.

Fear is a choice, but I fear many will choose to forget about this film very quickly.afterearth6

My Score: out of 5 stars for After Earth

(Remember, to read this review of mine and over 200 more, check out THE ARCHIVE of movies I have reviewed anytime. Know before you go…or rent…or buy!)


Thanks for reading! Happy Watching!

T, The Focused Filmographer

up next: My review for Now You See Me


  1. I too am a big Will Smith fan (and I don’t hate Jaiden) but think this would instantly end up on the list with WWW for him (we all know how he feels about that) if not for the fact that he at least is in it with his son. This film’s CGI is making Sony look pretty bad considering Marvel’s Iron Man 3 and Paramount’s Star Trek Into Darkness are both currently playing in theaters still and look so much better.
    CG aside, there were a number of things that bugged me about the movie. The story starts off really slow in that it tells you too little of too much too quickly early on. By the time it starts to fill in the holes later on in the film, nobody cares. The organic feel of the ship interior (ex: honeycomb ceiling) is interesting on it’s own but the high gloss of the exterior makes it all seem cheap and out of place. The film would’ve been better titled “Earth After” since it’s more about how the earth evolved after humans rather than what humans did after Earth. Oddly, as dangerous as the planet is made out to be, the real threat isn’t even from Earth. Most of the characters in the film are forgettable, Will plays his role too stiff, Jaiden is… well, Jaiden, and the relationship and character that is most intriguing in the film is actually a side story. I’m not even going to go into the odd number of survivors… or lack there of.
    Yet, with all that said, this film was still far better than I was expecting. As you stated, the views of the planet are stunning is certain shots and the suit that the Rangers and cadets wear are pretty amazing. I really enjoyed the story that the General tells about fear. However, I completely agree on your score of 2 as the good things with this film were too few and far between to save it.


  2. As you know I don’t have much love for M. Night and I’ll stay away from this movie. But I think the concept is pretty cool, unfortunately it sounds like the filmmakers couldn’t execute it properly.


  3. I think I am going to make this a rental.

    I’ve been getting the impression from other reviews and your that “After Earth” was intended to be more a kids film a la “Shark Boy & Lava Girl(?)”. It seems once the Smith’s got involved the decision was made to upgrade the budget and the hype, but not necessarily the story.


  4. It’s not as terrible as the critics say, but I thought it was incredibly boring. I thought Jaden carried the film fairly well, even if he was way melodramatic here and there and I hated his accent… Yeah, the only thing going for it is the cinematography. And some of the creatures were cool.

    Nice review, T.


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