Director: M. Night Shyamalan
Starring: Jaden Smith, Will Smith
Studio: Columbia Pictures
Genre(s): Science Fiction
Rated: PG-13 (For sci-fi action violence and some disturbing images)
It amazes me that M. Night Shyamalan managed to hammer out great performances from Bruce Willis and Haley Joel Osment in “The Sixth Sense,” yet manages to make Will Smith – one of Hollywood's most charismatic actors - and turn him into a walking bore. Despite the credit that “After Earth” was based off of an idea by Smith, stars him and his son Jaden, and was produced by his wife Jada Pinkett Smith, you'd think this family project would make the man at least look like he's having a good time. Smith's character explains he's this way because he realized at one point in his life that while danger was real, fear was a choice, and he chose not to be afraid. Does choosing not to be afraid also make you aloof? Never mind.
The story: Human's destructive behaviors made the planet Earth uninhabitable and humans were forced to abandon their home. Now, years later, they are living peacefully in space, and everything is hunky dory. Kitai Raige (Jaden Smith) is training to become a space ranger of some sort when he is informed by his teacher that “while he has great grades and understanding of survival, [he] doesn't work well on the field with others.” We're clued into this thinking because…Kitai runs faster than the other cadets I suppose. Anyway, at the encouragement of his wife, Cypher Raige (Will Smith) takes his son with him on a delivery mission that promises to easy (which gives Cypher a chance to get to know his son little).
Well, the ship crash lands on Earth, Cypher's legs are crushed, and the back of the ship that has the emergency distress beaker is a few days walk away from them. That means it's up to Kitai to face a savage world and save them both. What dangers will he face on his journey you ask? If this film is to believed he faces bamboos, hawks, and tigers. There is one alien creature saved for the climax of the film, but otherwise Earth in the future looks more like Disney's Animal Kingdom than a savage world. Course, Kitai does have to inject himself with artificial oxygen to help him breath in a world whose air is sparse. I guess all those trees sitting around all over the place are there just for decoration. Never mind.
The planet's temperature does fluctuate drastically to the point where everything becomes ice at night though. I guess humans forgot they had this wonderful invention called heaters installed in most houses, which existed for the purpose of keeping people warm during the winter. Never mind. In fact, watching this movie I couldn't quite figure out why humans abandoned Earth in the first place. A flashback reveals an alien invasion of sorts, but as far as I can see the aliens have long since gone (the only reason Kitai has a showdown with one is because it was being transported on the ship that crashed). If humans were able to destroy their own planet then surely they could have gone back with a few laser guns and reclaimed their property and put the animals in zoos right?
The result of all this confusion leads to “After Earth” being a very expensive movie with an idiot plot. Actually, despite all the money that was spent on this the animals look like video game characters and Kitai looks like he's usually standing in front of a green screen. I don't know if Will Smith realized what a turkey this movie was, but he sure acts that way. His lack of emotion on the field might be contributed to his “fear is a choice” motto, but does that really extend to his home life, where when his wife hugs him he has a look that screams “alright, let's just get this over with?” Of course, if it wasn't for the star power in this film “After Earth” may have made me feel indifferent as well, but the amount of talent that was involved in making this film just makes “After Earth” feel like a total wash at the end of the day.
Not to mention that Shyamalan is feeling like a worse director film after film. What happened to the guy who brought us “The Sixth Sense,” “Signs,” and “Unbreakable?” Does that man even exist anymore? And for that matter, what is with all the films that are obsessed with humans destroying the Earth through pollution? Have none of these people been to Lake Tahoe? Well, I think people need to finally take this message to heart and soon. Because if they don't, then Hollywood will keep making these crappy movies, and humanity will soon start to suffer in ways we never before dreamed were possible.
Parents, there is mild violence int this film. Recommended for ages 12 and up.