Friday, May 31, 2013

After Earth Movie Review

Jaden Smith takes center stage in After Earth

From our friends at DC Film Review

After Earth: Take a Knee

I suppose it's easy to blame Will Smith and his family for the shortcomings in Columbia Pictures' After Earth. After all, Will and wife Jada Pinkett co-produced it, presumably as a launch vehicle for Jaden. The king of summer blockbusters (Will) even agreed to step aside, to allow all the light to shine on his son. While Jaden proves he's not ready to take over his dad's crown just yet; I prefer to focus on director M. Night Shyamalan, who continues his decade+ nose dive from upstart filmmaker into perhaps one of Hollywood's worst directors. In fact, I'm shocked the savvy Smiths hooked their wagons to this former talent in the first place.

Rotten Tomatoes Plot: A crash landing leaves teenager Kitai Raige (Jaden Smith) and his legendary father Cypher (Will Smith) stranded on Earth, 1,000 years after cataclysmic events forced humanity's escape. With Cypher critically injured, Kitai must embark on a perilous journey to signal for help, facing uncharted terrain, evolved animal species that now rule the planet, and an unstoppable alien creature that escaped during the crash. Father and son must learn to work together and trust one another if they want any chance of returning home.

What’s Best: You can saddle him with a bad accent and two broken legs, but Will Smith still manages to shine through the ugliness around him. Even Jaden has his moments (especially when he plays vulnerable) but two generations of Super Smiths can't make you forget a terrible script and even worse special effects. 1,000 years into the future, and nobody has a laser blaster?

What’s Not: Shyamalan's fingerprints are all over this one. AE isn't as bad as The Happening (what is?) but it's safe to say, attaching M. Night to your project nowadays spells disaster (at least when he's behind the camera.) His only good work in the last 10 years is Devil, and that's probably because he was limited to producer-writer. His fall from glory is epic.

Special effects are awful (the CGI is amateur at best) and I'm still trying to figure out how Earth can be so lush green in the daytime, despite sub-zero temperatures at night (how does anything grow properly?)  Future Earth is supposed to be dangerous and deadly, but I've come across more creatures in Rock Creek Park. When Kitai (Jaden) actually encounters any trouble, you'd have to be an idiot to believe he's going to come out of it badly. I don't like criticizing a 14-year-old kid's ability to act; but Jaden's "Shakespeare moment," when he lets Dad have it over his sister's death (shown repeatedly in muffled flashbacks throughout the movie) is sophomoric and plain bad.

Best Line: The script is so poor; I have a hard time thinking of a good line. How about Will Smith's barely audible gasp, right before his decision to abort his son's mission or ask him to take an impossible leap off a cliff? It's the best moment in the film, and shows the ties between father and son as I imagine the director intended for the entire movie.

Overall: In anyone else's hands, Jaden's coming-out party could have been far more successful. Limiting Will to air-traffic controller (with a personality to match) is a bad decision in any movie. Why not have him fight side-by-side with his son against realistic opposition? Towards the end, Will points out, "Fear is a choice." So is picking a director. With Shyamalan at the helm, After Earth was dead on arrival.