By Gary ‘Past Ground’ Murray
Starring Will Smith and Jaden Smith
Written by Gary Whitta and M. Night Shyamalan
Story by Will Smith
Directed by M. Night Shyamalan
Running time 100 min
MPAA Rating PG-13
Selig Film Rating—Get out the Torches!
M. Night Shyamalan is probably the most loathed filmmaker working today. Over the last few years, he has directed some of the most over-hyped films in Hollywood. He was in charge of The Village, Lady in the Water, The Happening and The Last Airbender. All these films have been critical and financial failures. The latest flick to go down this road is After Earth.
The story takes place in the far distance future. Mankind has abandoned Earth and moved to Nova Prime, a world outside the solar system. General Cypher Raige (Will Smith) is the commander of the Ranger Corps ship. He is a serious man, unscarred in battle but who has one of the more irritating accents. But, he sounds more like a Rastafarian farmer than a space commander.
On board is his son Kitai (Jaden Smith). He’s a mischievous young man and his father thinks that he shows no discipline. The boy keeps having flashbacks to a tragedy that happened when he was a boy. He comes across as a wimpy little snot.
The ship gets caught up in an asteroid field and is severely damaged. The commander has no other choice than to land on Earth, a planet that is considered dangerous and is quarantined. It seems that evolution has gone into overdrive and every animal on the planet is now a hazard to humans.
Cypher has two broken legs and one broken ship in two pieces. He must get Kitai to travel 100 kilometers to the other half of the ship to retrieve the rescue beacon. The planet is on the crest of another Ice Age so the nights get very cold. Kitai must follow a path of hot spots in order not to freeze to death
The young man must find inner courage in order to save his father and save himself. Along the road to the back of the ship, he must battle packs of lions and groups of simians that are trying to protect their territory from this hostile element known as man.
So a kid who is not at home anymore must go down a bright path and deal with lions and tigers and bears…oh my!
This could be the greatest waste of time and talent in 2013. Will Smith is one of the biggest action stars on the planet and in this film he has NO action. With his legs broken, all he does is watch his son. Some people may see this as him passing the action torch to Jaden but the young man is just not up to the task. Jaden Smith was effective in The Karate Kid remake but here is totally out of his league. He does not come across as an action star but as someone lost and out of his league.
For a film that purports to be an action film, there is little true action in After Earth. The young man has to go against different wilderness beasts but never for that long. The actions scenes are short and ineffective. Much more of the film is of young Kitai walking around the planet, trying to find his way.
The scenery looks wonderful but it takes more than pretty pictures to make a great movie. Also, the special effects are impressive. The vision of the future has many cool gadgets but cool effects to do not make a great movie. This film is not a great movie.
There are many rumors running around Hollywood that After Earth is somehow linked to Scientology. The final cut of the film does feel like something that could have come from the mind of L. Ron. Hubbard. That is another problem with the film. It feels more like something that was thought up in the Golden Age of Pulp Fiction and not modern science fiction. The plot is more serial Buck Rogers than Prometheus.
Fourteen years ago (1999), a great movie called The Sixth Sense was released to theaters. The surprise ending shocked audiences for months and those who saw it didn’t give away the final climax. Everyone would say “You have to see it” and tell no one. M Night has been trying to live up to that promise of greatness ever since. Please, Hollywood, stop giving him money to make films. We have suffered enough.