‘After Earth’ Movie Review
M. Night Shyamalan returns. Unfortunately he returns with the stigma that all of his movies suck. We will see if the star power of Will Smith and Will Smith 2.0 (Jaden Smith) can smash that reputation.
1,000 years into the future humans have long moved on from Earth. They have inhabited a new planet and interplanetary travel is part of the norm. Cypher Raige (Will Smith) is a general in the human army that has been fighting off alien species. His son, Kitai (Jaden Smith), is trying to become a ranger just like his dad. Both crash land Earth, which has now evolved to kill humans in every way. With Cypher injured, it is up to Kitai to journey across the dangerous planet alone and retrieve a beacon to signal for help.
In a world of remakes and sequels, unique movies have a special place in my heart. I would rather see filmmakers and actors attempt something bold and fail rather than staying in their same comfort zone throughout their career. With that being said, ‘After Earth’ has tons of originality.
This film stars Jaden Smith. He dominates the screen time at about 90%. Will Smith’s name gets you in the theaters, but it is Jaden that has to work to keep you there. This isn’t the Jaden you are used to either, he’s gone through puberty, his voice has changed and he is a far cry from what he once was in ‘The Pursuit of Happyness.’
To be completely honest, I was impressed with his acting abilities. His emotional scenes were very powerful and he delivered some nice humor to lighten the tense situations. So, maybe people should get off Will’s back about buying leading roles for his son.
On to Will. He’s getting old. He’s become the Fresh Prince of Gray Hair. He didn’t get too much screen time in the film, but he was very convincing when we do see him.
Now, the key to this movie are the visual effects. And they were good. It’s just too bad that ‘Avatar’ created a very similar world and their effects were great. So, even though this ‘After Earth’ looked very convincing, I was always comparing it to ‘Avatar’ in my mind.
Also, the name M. Night Shyamalan does not mean the same thing it meant in 2002. Back then it meant – awesome movies with a cool twist ending. Now it means – bad movies with stupid twist that makes no sense and takes away from the entire film. His earlier stuff was great. Even ‘The Village’ was good. It was just unbelievably misadvertised, which created the wrong expectations for the audience. After 2004, his films really took a turn for the worst. ‘The Happening’ was one of the stupidest movies I have ever seen in my life.
Well it is safe to say that this is easily Shyamalan’s best effort in the past ten years. This is the first film he has directed where he did not write the screenplay and maybe that is not a bad thing. I am really hoping he can taking some baby steps towards making great movies again.
My favorite part of the film was theme of fear vs. danger. It focused on how danger is real but fear is a choice. We choose to be afraid based on the circumstances. This is a very powerful metaphor that is displayed throughout the film and can reflect into he lives of the audience.
There could have been a little bit more tension or drama added to the storyline. Especially when we are only seeing one character on screen for 80 minutes. However, there are 2 or 3 emotional scenes, and those scenes really tug on your heartstrings. Even if you don’t catch it in theaters, it might just still be worth seeing at some point. Maybe.