A few days ago, I got to see the movie After Earth. In case you’ve forgotten, After Earth was an M. Night Shyamalan film that came out last year starring Will and Jaden Smith.
It was a total bomb.
I was disappointed by the bad reviews (11% on rotten tomatoes!) and decided that it was not worth the money to see in theaters, a decision I now regret.
I feel that After Earth had a few similarities to John Carter. Not in the sense that the stories were similar, but more in the sense that nobody seemed to know what to do with them and they ended up languishing briefly in the theaters before being sent quickly to DVD.
Granted, John Carter was a better movie than After Earth. While both were predictable yet entertaining, After Earth struggles with a factor common to all of Shyamalan’s films: a rather grandiose self-importance with little to no humor to make the pretentiousness bearable. Shyamalan likes to hammer his themes in hard and After Earth is no exception.
Quick plot summary: Will Smith (Cypher) is a celebrated general of the space traveling/world-protecting Rangers who is taking one last mission before retiring. His young son, Kitai, has just been refused promotion into the Rangers because of his failure to perform well in the field. Cypher decides to take Kitai with him on his mission, which should be a simple there and back journey. But, this being space, something goes terribly wrong and the ship is forced to crash land on Earth- an Earth that has been abandoned by humans for generations because it had become too dangerous and no longer able to support human life. Cypher and Kitai are the only survivors and Cypher has been gravely injured. Their only chance for rescue means Kitai must travel, alone, for several days, to get a working help signal from the other half of the crashed spaceship. Oh, and Kitai is being hunted by an alien creature that literally sees fear.
The locations are beautiful and I think that Will and Jaden Smith make a fine acting pair. They felt a little wooden in this film but I think that was due more to poor character development than poor acting (I get that Cypher is the strong silent type with no fear, but why?? This was never explained satisfactorily.)
Ultimately, After Earth was an entertaining film and one I’m glad I got to see. I can’t recommend making an effort to search it out to watch it but if it falls in your lap, it’s not a bad way to spend an hour and a half.