After Earth

Summary:

After Earth is uninspired, bland, and ultimately a chore to get through. Will Smith serves as nothing more than a name grab in this vehicle designed to push his son center stage. Although Jaden Smith shows promise as a young actor he is still not solid enough to carry this weak script and visually dull movie alone. The characters are walking clichés and its themes are transparent and beaten to death. The action is comprised of Jaden Smith running from scene to scene and it never reaches a level of excitement that could have saved the movie. After Earth walks away with half realized ideas and a universe so dull that it feels lifeless.


As silly as it sounds I had sworn off all future M. Night Shyamalan movies after the disaster that was The Last Airbender (2010). My passive activism didn’t have much resistance to face seeing as how After Earth is the first movie to see Shyamalan back in the director’s chair since The Last Airbender, but never the less three years have passed and so has my misguided fan boy anger. I decided to give After Earth a chance with the reasoning that a Will Smith Sci-Fi movie would be a fun ride, or at the very least great Sci-Fi eye candy. Neither of these is true.

After Earth

After Earth tells the story of a rebellious young boy named, Kitai (Jaden Smith), who despite his physical feats and intelligence lacks the discipline to become a ranger. Disappointed with his son’s failure, Cypher Raige (Will Smith) finally agrees to let his son accompany him on a dangerous mission in an effort to reconnect with his son. However, when an unexpected asteroid field damages their ship they find themselves stranded on the dangerous planet Earth alone.

After Earth is an incredibly boring chore to get through. Will Smith acts as nothing more than a name grab in this vehicle to promote his son, Jaden, as a leading action star. Though Jaden shows glimpses of promise as an actor, he’s just not solid enough to carry this film alone through its incredibly thin script, walking clichés, and a half realized universe. Just about every scene feels engineered to place Kitai in position that makes him seem tough and fierce, with the only thing stringing these action scenes along is the visible think tank declaring, “wouldn’t it be cool if he did this!” The audience is forced to watch Kitai run, pass out, run, and pass out for over an hour, and there is little to no change in his character that is warranted by anything he has done or earned. In fact, everything that the movie strives to accomplish is undone with one sentence by the movie’s end.

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Spoiler Warning

The main premise of the film is overcoming fear and realizing that it’s a product of your imagination. The story beats you over the head with this theme by having alien monsters that can track you by the scent of your fear. The whole point is Kitai learning to be fearless enough to be a ranger and to be able to face these alien monsters on his own, however even after his unwarranted triumph over fear, he still timidly admits to his dad that he’d rather work with his mom away from all the danger.  I’d be more descriptive about what exactly the mother does for a living but in this world you’re either a ranger or a helpless female.

End Spoilers

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There are a whole slew of problems that keeps After Earth from being entertaining even in the slightest guiltiest sense. The movie feels like half realized ideas that are more about walking father son clichés than an actual story. To say the sci-fi is soft sci-fi is putting it lightly, and there’s no real excitement or awe to keep the audience invested. Will Smith’s only role in this movie is to describe to the audience how dangerous everything is, all of which is done directly while looking at screen as though he’s seconds away from winking at us. It doesn’t help that Kitai also makes incredibly stupid decisions that places him at the center of blame for almost all the danger he faces. Then there are the incredibly distracting accents that the father son duo decided to don for this movie. I get that there are trying to create a cold and harsh world where only fearlessness survives while the weak perish, but their delivery comes off as stiff and robotic. There’s little to no emotion to connect with, and the conversations sound incredibly unnatural. The relationship between Kitai and his father are just about as real as the environments they are acting on.

Both the futuristic Earth, and the exo-planet, Nova Prime, are incredibly bland, and have just as much life to it as the Star Wars prequel sets. There’s no depth to this world, and very little imagination to make these future settings enjoyable. I would have liked to see more of what happened to mankind as well as Earth but we are given little history behind their exile as well as the aliens that invaded their planet. Though the alien monster designs are cool it’s hard to be interested when there’s little more to the monsters than the fact that it sees fear.

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If you’ve seen a trailer for this film then you’ve seen the film. There’s no surprises or turns to keep you guessing or engaged, and the action is uninspiringly dull. The movie tries to engineer some sort semblance of emotion by intertwining a story of regret with Kitai and his sister. However, it’s so poorly acted and described that it’s merely a speed bump in an already poorly paced film. After Earth serves as nothing more than an expensive acting demo reel for Jaden, and another failed attempt at Shyamalan to regain his former glory.

After Earth is uninspired, bland, and ultimately a chore to get through. Will Smith serves as nothing more than a name grab in this vehicle designed to push his son center stage. Although Jaden Smith shows promise as a young actor he is still not solid enough to carry this weak script and visually dull movie alone. The characters are walking clichés and its themes are transparent and beaten to death. The action is comprised of Jaden Smith running from scene to scene and it never reaches a level of excitement that could have saved the movie. After Earth walks away with half realized ideas and a universe so dull that it feels lifeless.

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2 responses to “After Earth

  1. Pingback: Movie Monday Update Week of June 3rd | Thinking Cinematic

  2. Good review. Isn’t amazing, but fine for what it was, and that’s a freakin’ sign of god coming from the hands of M. Night Shymalamadingdong!

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