After Earth

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After crash landing on the long abandoned planet Earth, a father and son must work together to face the dangers of the planet and find their way to rescue.

In the hands of M Night Shyamalan, it winds up less interesting than it sounds.

A thousand years after fleeing Earth, the human race finds itself on a world called Nova Prime. Nova Prime is inhabited by a vicious indigenous species called Ursas, who literally can smell fear. One man however, Cypher Raige (Will Smith), learns to completely control his fear, and thus can walk undetected amongst the animals, becoming a lethal killing machine in humanity’s war against the beasts.

His son Kitai (Jaden Smith), however, suffers from panic attacks after witnessing one of the creatures kill his sister. This fear holds him back from graduating in his military training, much to the disappointment of his father. So Cypher decides to take Kitai with him on an interplanetary mission to transport an Ursa, in order to spend some father/son time together.

Their ship is headed for tragedy, though, as it runs into an asteroid field, and is forced to hyperjump to escape. They wind up disabled and going down, over the now forbidden planet of Earth. When the crash landing splits the space ship in two, kills everyone else on board, and cripples his father, it will be up to Kitai to travel the hostile wilderness and retrieve the SOS beacon from the tail section of the ship. On the way, he’ll have to master his fear… not only is the earth populated with dangerous creatures, but the Ursa that they were transporting has escaped.

“After Earth” combines two Hollywood lightning rods for criticism, Jaden Smith and M Night Shyamalan. Smith has received criticism for landing roles due to his father’s influence. In this particular case, he doesn’t quite have the necessary charisma to carry a huge role, though in fairness, his character isn’t all that well written. For most of the movie, he’s a whiney, nervous little punk; qualities that don’t endear anyone to a character. His father’s character isn’t the greatest, either, he’s ramrod straight and more than a little cold to his son. Again, qualities that aren’t exactly endearing. These two characters are the primary focus of the film, so having them both be hard to get behind isn’t a recipe for success.

The two of them are directed through this action-light action movie by Mr M. Night Shyamalan, who legendarily has produced films of declining caliber ever since first appearing on the scene. This particular film is currently sitting at 12% on Rotten Tomatoes, (which I think is overly harsh) so it wont help buck the trend. The story is flat and predictable, the action scenes are fine but nothing particularly memorable, and unfortunately, there are numerous moments when Shyamalan evidences his inner “hack”, namely the glaring flashback sequences and one out-of-place dream sequence.

In the ultimate backhanded compliment, even though this movie is lackluster at best, it’s still his best in years.

It’s not a terrible film by any means, but given that it’s Shyamalan and Nepotism Smith, people are going to be all over it. To me, it was a middling movie that had moments of mild entertainment value. Something that would make a decent watch when it hits premium cable later this year…

C+

Daniel Fogarty

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63 thoughts on “After Earth

  1. Yep, not a terrible film, but not great either. I was disappointed in the amount of Jaden Smith and the lack of the amount of Will Smith. The predictability was expected which made the ending rather anti-climatic. Unfortunately, as you said, this one is not going to be that memorable even to the people who like it.

    great review

    • Thanks T. Yeah, Too much Jaden, not enough Will, and you could see that ending coming from 8 miles out. :(

      Still, it wasn’t anywhere NEAR as awful as the 12% on Rotten Tomatoes would indicate. That kind of thing should be reserved for TERRIBLE movies, and I didn’t think this was one of those…

  2. Hey Fogs! Would you recommend anyone RENTING After Earth when it is available to rent on DVD and Blu-Ray?
    Would you recommend me seeing Now You See Me or Mud in the theater or on DVD!! I’ve read from many other reviews that Mud is a surprisingly and deeply though-provoking and an emotionally riveting film! Would you agree or disagree!
    Now, since I’m 16, would I find the ending twist to Now You See Me hard to follow and would I find Mud boring since it IS a VERY MATURE film that’s certainly more for adults than for me!!!

  3. Thanks for this review. I will wait for it to come out on DVD LoL… Check out my Blog if you have time and follow me! #One Love We movie bloggers need to stick together! :-)

  4. The trailers were just so,so. It seemed like Will Smith and young Nepo would be on screen alone most of the time and M. Night Shenanigans forte is suspense not action. A skip for me.

  5. See, I think this was a fair review. I’ve seen some people tearing this thing to shreds, and I just don’t feel this film warrants it at all. I personally felt it was fairly solid overall, if nothing particularly great, and certainly a much better outing from Shyamalan than we’ve come to expect in recent years. But I’d be certainly interested in how reactions towards this movie might differ if Shyamalan hadn’t directed it, yet it remained precisely as is.

    • I still think Jaden Smith is a part of the problem, so if Shyammy hadn’t been involved and it all stayed the same, people would still be pointing out how flat he was, and the reviews would be poor. However, I cant deny that there’s a pigpile mentality going on with the negative reviews.

      This was decent at times, but it wasn’t exciting enough to carry all its seriousness. You know what I’m saying? It took itself very seriously, and thus the flaws kind of stood out more… :(

    • I like Will Smith, I was actually surprised that this movie didn’t do better – just due to his involvement!

      But there’s a reason the reviews have been scathing, even if they’re too harsh due to Shyamalan. It has some problems, you know? :(

  6. I see great balance in your viewpoint Fogs and I salute you. Its too easy to just hate on this film because of who is involved and though it is M Knights first step back up to mediocrity I am want to give him way more credit for his work when getting it done with one hand tied behind his back (in the form of Jayden being in over his head.)

    Fair and balanced my friend, mine will read the same once posted in a few days. Good job!

    • Thanks Ric ;) Yeah, I definitely didn’t want to hate on it. Even though it IS mediocre, I think a lot of people will be in a rush to bash it because its Shyamalan. But it really wasn’t worthy of that contempt, to me. Let’s just call it non-exceptional and move along. :(

  7. I went in viewing it as I might a piece of Young Adult lit. After all, it isn’t really a great sci-fi epic. It is a boy’s coming of age story. As such, it works. It felt a bit like Island of the Blue Dolphins, but for boys, with some amped up danger. Jaden is just not a very good actor. He isn’t one of those children who stepped on a stage and displayed the skill of some of the great actors with decades of experience. Smith didn’t play to his strengths either. I am also in the minority where I have liked every Shayamalan film I’ve seen so far. I also realize that the advertising for his movies usually advertises them as different types of movies than what they really are. They tend to appeal to me on a sociological/anthropological level. And in some ways, there is a certain element of that in interpeting literature. The story does have a few weak points, but viewing it from a literary perspective, I would have probably given it a B or B-.

    • I think the fact that Jaden isn’t all that great an actor really handicapped this movie, you’re right. And his Dad didn’t get enough to do to compensate… They say talent skips a generation, so… LOL :roll:

      I don’t think audiences are looking for a young adult level piece of fiction here, lets say that.

      You really liked all the other Shyamalans? Eeesh. There are some real stinkers in that mix. 8O LOL

      • I haven’t seen all of his films. But I liked the ones I’ve seen. I know that The Village is a very hated movie but I liked it. But that’s a story for another time.

  8. Yup. It was “Meh.” (like many films lately)
    I was so sad for M. Night–I really cheer for him, I miss him :(
    But, no–this is not his return to form. Too safe and bland.

    Yet, I too agree that it is NOT as horrible as most are saying it is–but, it is forgettable.

    Later! :D

    • You put the ooh mow mow… Oh, Oh, Oh, Oh! Back into my smile, child… LOL

      Wont be too bad with lowered expectations and a home viewing. I don’t think you’ll feel ripped off or anything Sster.

  9. So what do you think it will take for M. Night Shagabooboo to have him stop working altogether? He’s definitely a big joke these days.

    • He is pretty much a joke, they had to keep his name entirely off of the promotional materials… but I don’t think he’ll stop working. Even though his films aren’t making money, they’re not disastrous, either. I think he’ll find work as long as he wants to… we’ll just have to keep sorting through the wreckage! 8O

  10. I don’t think I could be more disinterested in a movie, ahah. I don’t even want to rent it. I think Will Smith wanting so badly to turn his son into a movie star just leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

    • Me too. And a lot of other people, too. There’s a lot of resentment out there about that, and I don’t blame people. And then when the result is lackluster, like this, the critics really take it to him extra hard because of it. :(

  11. Pingback: After Earth Review: The Pursuit of Fearlessness | Rorschach Reviews

  12. Good review man. I didn’t hate this movie like everybody seemed to have, but I will admit that it is a bit of a dull experience. You won’t hate yourself after watching it, but you won’t pat yourself on the back neither. Just move on with your day and forget you even saw it.

    • True. Excactly. I haven’t been able to get around to everyone’s reviews like I normally have cause of the convention this weekend, but I’ll try to catch up before this weekend brings another wave!

  13. Good review man, to me there’s not much worse than ending up with a so-so movie, in fact I’d almost rather have a film be disastrous….that way I can get creative in how to rip it. When its middle of the road its harder to criticize, but harder still to praise. Probably going to skip this myself…

    • In terms of reviewing? Yeah, no doubt, I think I’d much rather write a review of a bad movie, its much easier! In terms of watching, though? Give me the mediocre over the truly bad any day (note: that doesn’t apply to so bad they’re good movies!) LOL

      You’re not missing out on much if you do skip it Tom… :(

  14. Hi, Fogs:

    Since vanity projects focused on less than talented actors and actresses do not fare well at the box office. And vanity projects that shift focus away from the less talented actors and actresses on onto their minimally talented progeny fare even worse.

    I’ll wait for this M. Night ShamalaNightmare to become the showcase flick of HBO’s fall or winter line up of crappy, far less than sterling films. And probably ignore it there as well.

    • LOL. Yeah, the crop of movies heading down the pike towards HBO and the ilk aren’t very promising right now Jack. 2013 has been rough so far…

      And you’re right, this has vanity project written all over it. I think if they had cast a more capable young actor, this movie could have been an entirely different story altogether!

      • Hi, Fogs:

        Still waiting patiently for ‘Pacific Rim’.

        Maybe a half dozen more kids might have helped. And added a toned down ‘Daddy Day Care’ vibe and humor to the film.

        PS: Drop by Ruth’s when you have the time.

  15. It’s not like nepotism in cinema is a new concept, but I think the Fresh Prince has lost a lot of credibility by trying to bludgeon us with his son as a movie star. I like Will Smith, but I don’t like the way he’s gone about giving his son a Hollywood career.

    And I’m over M Night. Aside from the recent Devil (which he produced), Nighty Night hasn’t done a decent film in ages, and as a one-trick pony he’s been found wanting.

    • Yeah, Bludgeon is the right word, unfortunately. I resented the fact that they remade the Karate Kid, and then here, its kind of hard not to see his son held this movie back a bit, you know? :(

      Devil was pretty decent, but Shyammy just Produced it. Once he gets in the directors chair, he’s up to his same old tricks…

  16. On your Summer Movie Preview, I half-joked about whether Smith could ressurect Shyamalan’s career or if Shyamalan would kill Smith’s. General reaction seems to indicate the latter… yours is the most positive review I’ve seen, and even it largely reads as “It sucks, but it has some moments”.

    Like a lot of sci-fi films, it looks like it has a decent premise, but that it wasn’t handled well.

    • I don’t think this will KILL Smith’s career, but it certainly stands out as one of his flops. It also isn’t going to help Shyamalan back to the top, especially considering the crappy take at the BO.

      You were right, man.

      They don’t really DO all that much with the premise. It’s kind of a cool concept, but they don’t explore it well enough. :(

      • I’m sure you’re right that this won’t kill Smith’s career… but I wonder how many more of these it can really take. The closest thing he’s had to a hit in about a decade was Men in Black III, I think, and that wasn’t exactly met with universal acclaim.

      • Can’t stay on top forever… I think all stars go through that. He’ll always be A-List though. All he needs is one big hit and people remember how great he’s been and forget the crap.

        Unless of course he keeps trying to shove Jaden down our throats.

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