Movie Review: After Earth
A highly decorated and respected General. His young and trying to prove his worth son. After Earth opens with the crash we’ve seen repeatedly in the trailers then takes us back for a little of the backstory that leads up to it.
Will Smith plays Cypher Raige, a man respected by all, and emotionally detached from his family. We get the narrative that its been 1000 years since humans left Earth. The only explanation is that we destroyed the planet ourselves. Now humans live on Nova Prime but there is an alien predator while blind, can smell the pheromone humans secrete when scared. Fun an alien that can smell fear. General Raige is the man who created “ghosting” when you lack fear the aliens can’t see you. His son Katai (Jaden Smith) is in the Ranger training program. It’s clear he wants to be just like his famous dad. He meets with the commanding officer who informs him for various reasons that while he scores better than everyone else he’s not being promoted to Ranger. We don’t really get to see why, they could have done something besides showing him running faster than the rest of the core to explain it.
When his father gets home you get to see that they aren’t remotely close. Over the course of After Earth you learn it involves the death of Katai’s older sister Senshi (Zoe Kravitz). Katai floats between feeling guilty that Senshi died while he hid, and blaming his father for not being there when the alien attacked. Because at the end of the day you do what your wife tells you to, Cypher asks Katai to come along on a mission to a distant planet with one of these alien Ursa’s on board for transport. The ship on its way to the destination crashes and makes an emergency landing on Earth.
The only way this has to do with Earth at all is that’s where it takes place. The story isn’t about Earth. After the crash only the 2 of them and of course the Ursa survive. Cypher is badly injured and spends the next 3 days guiding Katai to the back of the plane which is 100km away remotely. Katai is warned everything on earth has evolved to kill humans. This makes little to no sense as they don’t knows what humans are. They have just continued where the top of the food chain is absent and have no reason to fear humans. The point I guess of the movie those is about the distance between Katai and his father and how getting dropped in the worse possible circumstances force them to work thru their issues to survive. Since this is an M. Night Shyamalan movie you sit there waiting for a twist but there isn’t one. The twist is how they left his name off of After Earth’s advertising. You don’t even see it till the end credits.
There are still several problems with this movie. First Will Smith talks with an odd Southern/British/Robotic accent. I don’t know who’s idea it was but its really painful. He always breaks out of it when he’s yelling. Jaden Smith, honey I’m sorry but you still aren’t quite there yet. I think in years to come he will be a great actor but so far all you get is the constant frown and eyebrows of sadness while he tries to so any emotion besides angry. Even his happy fast looks constipated. If he can learn to emote something else he’s golden. But then again the Nic Cage face has worked wonders over the years so there’s that.
The story is weak in places, the acting rigid and the scenery not as impressive as I was expecting. There is no charisma from Will Smith which you expect and are saddened that this role doesn’t allow it. It’s not that the characters aren’t likable, but it doesn’t make me care about them enough. It’s a drama with a bit of action here and there, the backstory showing Katai through the years and his relationship with his sister makes him a little more likable but not enough. In the end I didn’t really care if they made it off the planet alive and that’s the failing of this movie. Its dull, unexciting and a waste of time and money.
My rating: Wait for cable
Director: M. Night Shyamalan
Studio: Columbia Pictures
Release Date: May 31, 2013
Run time: 100 minutes
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Images via Sony Entertainment