So much bad mojo has been surrounding Will Smith’s next starring film helmed by the once prodigy film maker M. Night Shyamalan. With a star like Smith and his somewhat rising star son Jaden, it could be looking as a self-fulfilling prophecy for the newfound duo. Unfortunately for both of the Hollywood names, who are known for different reasons, it didn’t pan out as well as they planned.
As stated before, I have been a Shyamalan apologist for a longtime, but I can’t help admitting that he has gone off the rails in quality ever since Lady in the Water. The Happening was nothing but a dumb political statement while The Last Airbender was a great middle finger to the source material. Although he’s known for his twist-endings, the real Shyamalan staple is his drawn out pacing. In that sense his fingerprints are all over After Earth.
The movie begins with a needless but interesting way; a couple of jump cuts from the inciting incident that makes the prestigious militant Cypher Raige (Will Smith) and son Kitai (Jaden Smith) crash land on a ransacked version of Earth which is covered in a natural state of forests and flesh-eating animals. With Cypher being incapacitated with two broken legs, Kitai must travel over mountainlands to reach the tail of their ship to retrieve a beacon in order to be saved. The threat of the evolutionized predators and one alien creature that can literally smell the fear of his victims.
Cypher is able to see and direct his son through this forested arena which makes for an interesting dynamic between father and son. But it also causes some frustration on the part of the audience. If you were responsible for the lives of yourself and your strong-willed and knowledgeable father wouldn’t you listen to and do everything that he instructed you to do? Kitai is annoyingly defiant at every direction. Cypher is a stoic and fearless father who holds his son’s mission together through his stupid actions. Little character development happened and when it kind of did, it was like an on-off switch at the very end. Even though the movie focused on the son Kitai, it could have and should have been about Cypher’s fear of losing his son. Missed opportunities all around.
In production value, it was pretty impressive. The creature effects were believable as was the man-made spacecraft and architecture. Jaden Smith is good on showing emotions but his line delivery is stiff and awkward. Also, Will Smith has always been a flexible actor (Pursuit of Happyness, I Am Legend, Men In Black) so it’s no surprise that he is on top of his game conveying a specific character. If this following in your father’s footsteps is the message of this movie, Jaden has a long way to go.
Overall… I didn’t hate it. I think it was a well thought-out idea carried through in a fairly competent way. The M Night stamp is clearly visible with the sluggish pacing and weird shots that it is easy to say that in the hands of another director it would have been a better and tighter movie.
Verdict: It’s not a rush out to see but if you want to see a simple and digestable movie, Redbox it for a night or two.
Thanks for reading! Please share and comment if you agree or disagree with my take.
Summer’s Best of List (So far)
1) Star Trek: Into Darkness
2) Iron Man 3
3) Man of Steel
4) Monsters University
5) Now You See Me
6) After Earth
7) This Is The End
8) The Great Gatsby
9) World War Z
10) The Lone Ranger