MPAA Rating: PG-13 (for sci-fi action violence and some disturbing images)
Director: M. Night Shyamalan
Studio: Columbia Pictures (Sony)
Stars: Will Smith, Jaden Smith, Sophie Okonedo
This week we look at the 2013 box office bomb After Earth. Earth has finally been ruined, It’s no longer inhabitable by mankind and we have to move on to the stars. Nova Prime has become our new home world but, a new threat is out to drive us in to extinction. The Rangers are established to fight this new threat and General Cypher Raige is a legend in their ranks. His son wants nothing more than to prove he is a soldier to the Cypher. After crash landing on the now hostile planet Earth where everything has evolved to kill humans he will get his chance.
When I saw this film was directed by the once celebrated and now very much maligned, M. Night Shyamalan I slightly threw up a little in my mouth. Filled with visions of hours wasted on horrible two hour long PSA’s on environmentalism disguised as a horror movie (The Happening) and multiple groan inducing, twist endings I figured there’s no way this movie will be good. It turns out that I was regrettably correct.
The movie is supposed to be an epic sci-fi space adventure about a workaholic father, a son who’s searching for his approval, and their journey to redemption on a post-human planet Earth. What we get is Will Smith trying to continue the push to make his son the next him. Sure, Will is fine most times as Cypher Raige but, as a fearless soldier he is stunted from giving the emotional performance required for this type of story to work. Jaden Smith also has good moments. The problem is, far too often is his dialogue ruined by the contrived accent he tries to add to words. It sounds British or South African, either way it sounds terrible. There was a few times too many Jaden screamed leave me alone for no reason it seemed which after a few instances drew laughter from the crowd which is never a good sign if the movie is not a comedy.
The suit that Jaden’s character, Kitai wears becomes a character in itself as it changes color depending on the situation. This actually helps to convey emotion and add tension to scenes as you see danger coming before the character does. That was one of the few highlights and good ideas used in the film. Zoe Kravitz (daughter of Lenny Kravitz) as the daughter of Cypher and sister to Kitai is pretty good in her limited role. Also, it’s not that long of a film clocking in at 100 minutes which is a good thing. Here’s hoping that After Earth becomes an afterthought in cinema history.