Reviewed By

Christopher Armstead
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. 
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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?  Who knew?

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.
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