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…