Starring: Will Smith, Jaden Smith
Director: M Night Shyamalan
At First when I learned that M. Night Shyamalan Directed After Earth, I thought it was his track record of making terrible movies over the past ten years that was causing Sony to not mention his name, rather to Focus on the star power of Will Smith. After seeing the film I am not so sure. Perhaps Shyamalan is smarter than I thought, saw the film and decided to distance himself from this disaster in hopes of salvaging what career he has left.
To say that After Earth is bad would be one of the biggest understatements of recent memory. The film has an extremely short run time yet the experience is very akin to that of Alex in a Clockwork Orange. I am quite positive that just seeing pictures of Jaden or Will Smith will now cause me to experience uncontrollable Nausea.
There is a spark of a very bad idea and plot in After Earth. Young Kitai Raige (Jaden Smith) wants to follow in the footsteps of his father General Cypher Raige (Will Smith) and become a member of the United Ranger Corp. The assembled militia created when mankind destroyed earth (time to cue the montage of natural disasters). Now living on Nova Prime a planet that is inhabited by “Ursas” (An amalgamation of the Alien from Aliens complete with acidic saliva and a spider) Ursas are blind but can hunt humans by smelling the Fear Pheromones that humans secret when scared. What the Ursas didn’t count on was Cypher Raiges ability to turn off his fear (Cypher decided fear is a conscious choice, not your body’s natural reaction for self preservation) making him invisible, a process called “Ghosting”.
Cypher’s daughter Senshi was killed in front of a Young Kitai creating a wedge between father and son. On the advice of the family matriarch Faia (Sophie Okonedo) She encourages Cypher to take Kitai on his next mission Saying “he doesn’t need a commanding officer he needs a father”. When their ship crash lands on earth the entire crew dies except for an injured Will a scratch free Jaden and of course the Ursa that was on the ship.
Earth has rebounded quite nicely from Man’s atrocities. Birds are flying, forests and jungles are thriving, animals are roaming. For all the beautiful majesty of this modern Earth, the oxygen level is low so some form of mystery liquid is taken to coat the lungs allowing oxygen to be easily breathed. No other animal has this issue, there is no pollution anymore, no humans, and you would think Oxygen in the middle of a forest/jungle wouldn’t be the problem it is. The majority of the run time is Jaden running through the woods trying to get to an emergency beacon located 60 kilometers away. He has no map, no compass he is running left and right in a foreign land as is still able to get where he needs to be.
Another unexplained phenomenon is how the temperature drops extremely at night freezing everything. So Jaden needs to reach Hot Spots to stay warm come nightfall. Mind you nothing is frozen in the morning and it’s not hot, it just magically defrosts. Jaden gets chased by CGI animals that pale compared to the ones in the Life of Pi, while Will sits in the ship and talks him through his trek.
The CGI is bush league, there is a scene where Baboons are running in the forest it literally looks like they had a group of people shaking bushes then layered some badly done baboons over it. Another scene where Will and Jaden are in the spaceship hangar looks like it could have been done in my garage in front of a green screen.
The overall look and feel is poor with the ship looking like it’s made from Bamboo and Cheesecloth, while the crash site is surrounded by bed sheets for some unexplained reason.
Will gives probably the worst performance of his career, sitting stoically while speaking in a voice that is a cross between Morgan Freeman and a stereotypical slave from the 1800’s. Jaden has two emotions the angry teen and the scared teen. Neither is a fleshed out character that you care about.
The CGI budget would have been better used to not create running baboons or a giant bird but to remove Jaden and Will creating a beautiful nature film.
Grade – 58