Friday, June 7 2013, 06:40 PM MDT
Movie Review: After Earth
2 out of 5 Stars
Director: M. Night Shymalan
Starring: Jaden Smith, Will Smith, Sophie Okonedo
Recommended To: The wealthy that don’t mind being under whelmed or those that feel obligated to see every major Hollywood release of 2013.
Synopsis: One thousand years after humanity was forced to abandon Earth an asteroid storm forces the space ship carrying Cypher Raige (Will Smith) and his son Kitai (Jaden Smith) to crash land on a planet that is vastly more dangerous than it was when their ancestors left it. With Cypher too wounded to leave the ship, Kitai sets out alone through the wilderness to recover the rescue beacon housed in the wreckage of their ship’s tail.
Review: After Earth is the family vanity piece that I feared it would be. It sets up a fairly interesting premise and then does absolutely nothing with it. Having been reclaimed by nature Earth is supposed to be a world that has evolved into a man-eating planet, but the main antagonist isn’t a creature indigenous to Earth. It’s a monster that escapes from the cargo bay of the space ship when it crashes. In fact there’s absolutely no reason for the planet to be Earth. We don’t see the ruins of any cities or any recognizable landmarks of any kind. It’s just a forest with oversized birds and anxious orangutans.
Were that the film’s greatest drawback it could still make for mindless entertainment. Sadly, it fails to do that as Jaden Smith, who is supposed to carry the film while his father (both biologically and in this work of fiction) sits on the sidelines with a broken leg and plays armchair quarterback, isn’t a strong enough actor to justify the spotlight he’s been given.
M. Night Shyamalan’s direction isn’t to blame for the film’s woes. His rewriting of Gary Whitta’s original screenplay, which I haven’t read, might be a different story as Shyamalan’s fingerprints seem to be all over some of the flashbacks and the cheesier aspects of the story. It’s equally possible that Whitta’s original draft was just as uninspired and Shyamalan didn’t have much of anything to work with in the first place.
For as redundant as Oblivion felt it at least had gorgeous visuals and a cast that kept things interesting. After Earth just runs in circles until the audience is too exhausted to care about the characters, the plot or the special effects.
-Ryan Michael Painter