- 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:
First off, I’m going to tell you a few things about many preconceived notions about After Earth:
- 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.
- 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.
- It may surprise you to know that this is the first time that Will Smith is credited with “Story By” production input.
- 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)
- 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
My Score: 2 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