Oh… it wasn't that
bad. The much maligned M. Night Shyamalan directed /
Smith Family vehicle 'After Earth' has its issues to be
certain, but maybe because we had heard such awful, awful
things about the quality of this movie, which theoretically
could've driven our expectations to the bottom of the well…
who knows why exactly… but I did not hate 'After Earth' when
its final credits rolled. I didn't love it, but at least
I didn't hate it.
The planet Earth is done. Finished. Kaput.
We have finally gone and put Gaia out of her misery. But
fortunately somewhere out there is a new planet. I
forget the name, but it's like Alpha or Beta or Nova something
or another. It's neither here nor there really, but this
is where the human race has setup shop for the foreseeable
future. Unfortunately on this new planet there are
monsters who really don't like humans and are systematically
slaughtering us. That's not good, but we have a hero, a
man who knows no fear, a man with the supremely awesome name
of Cypher Raige (Will Smith). Turns out these monsters
are blind and only smell fear, and thus Cypher is invisible to
them, and now the hunted is the hunter.
General Raige, when he's not on death defying missions or
training soldiers in the art of fearlessness, is at home,
happy to be near his lovely wife Faia (Sophie Okonendo) or
experiencing massive disappointment from his impetuous son
Kitai (Jaden Smith). All Kitai wants to do is make his
father proud, but alas something tragic happened to the Raige
family many years ago that has damaged the relationship
between father and son, seemingly beyond repair. No worries though. Faia has
convinced Cypher to take Kitai on one of his next
missions. It's an easy mission, nothing to worry about,
no risk, but it will be a chance for father and son to
bond. Unfortunately this mission was anything but
routine and one asteroid field later, this ship crash lands on
a strange planet with the only survivors being Cypher who has
a compound fractured broken leg that has cut a major artery,
and his whiny son.
Cypher has informed Kitai that they are on
Earth, and Earth has changed. Everything on Earth…
everything… like even the weather and the clouds… has evolved
to kill humans. Armed with this knowledge, Cypher has
also informed Kitai that he has to travel like a hundred
miles, on foot, to make it to the remains of this ship to
launch a rescue beacon. While everything on this planet
tries to kill him. Cypher will guide his son.
While bleeding out internally.
It will be a daunting mission for young Kitai who will be
hunted, stung, bitten, frozen, all the while not listening to
his old man who really wants to see the young man survive
this. And there is one of those fear monsters on the
planet Earth as well. They brought it there. It's
complicated. And the boy must choose not to fear.
At this point, long after the disappointing theatrical release
of 'After Earth' and watching this movie on Blu-Ray, it's
going to be difficult for anyone to give this movie any kind
of fair shake at this point, and that includes me. Maybe
if I'd seen this film upon its release, I too would possibly
think it to be terrible, but as it is, I didn't. On the
other side, there are probably those who are so convinced it's
awful before seeing it, thus it may be difficult to change
their minds. I don't know, but I did find 'After Earth'
to be perfectly mediocre entertainment.
Are their issues? Of course. Jaden Smith simply
isn't a good enough actor to carry an entire film. Will
Smith did everything in his power to downplay his own
overpowering screen presence to give his son a chance, playing
this entire film with a perpetual Mad-On, but there were times
were the younger Smith seemed out of his element. The
fact that young Jaden sometimes seemed overwhelmed added to
the overall slowness of this film. These quiet, poignant
moments that probably should've been powerful, unfortunately
were just… well… slow. And who thought it was a good
idea for these two have southern accents? Director
Shyamalan should've humbly suggested that these two try to
sound like people from… heck I don't know… Philadelphia.
What? Will Smith is actually from Philadelphia?
But those issues aside, I had read that the special effects
were terrible, and maybe they were on a massive IMAX screen or
whatnot, but on my 55" television they seemed just fine.
When the movie did break away from Jaden's quiet,
introspective moments, I thought the action was brisk and well
presented, Sophie Okenedo and Zoe Kravitz were fine in
extremely limited supporting roles and the story we were being
told was interesting enough to at least hold my attention
throughout the duration.
Hey, I saw M. Night's 'The Last Airbender' and this was way
better than that, and 'Wild, Wild West' is probably still Will
Smith's worst movie as this doesn't come near that level of
awfulness if one were to ask me. 'After Earth' isn't a
good movie, too much to overcome for me to comfortably call it
that, but once again, it's not nearly as bad as folks were
telling me it was.