Dir: M. Night Shyamalan
Cast: Jaden Smith, Will Smith, Sophie Okonedo, and Zoe Kravitz
Synopsis: A crash landing leaves Kitai Raige and his father Cypher stranded on Earth, 1,000 years after events forced humanity’s escape. With Cypher injured, Kitai must embark on a perilous journey to signal for help.
*Review Note: This is a non-spoiler review as always.*
On the surface After Earth is a sci-fi movie that stars the Smith family powerhouse of Will and his son Jaden. Along with that, the movie is also a coming of age story of sorts with the added effect of a strained father and son relationship.
The story is set 1,000 years after humans have left a now uninhabitable Earth behind and relocated to another planet named Nova Prime. Nova Prime has its own dangers: monstrous aliens that hunt humans. So of course we learn to adapt and get a very brief scene that shows the humans fighting back and pretty much the only scene we get to see Will’s Cypher Rage do anything (more on that in a bit).
Anyway, we follow his son, an aspiring Ranger named Kitai Raige (Jaden) as he tries to impress his father. Kitai however doesn’t exactly have all the qualities it takes to be a Ranger and it disappoints him and knows that it will disappoint his father. However, the two get a chance to have some bonding time as Cypher after coming home briefly has to leave again and takes his son. While traveling something, obliviously, goes wrong the ship is forced and crash lands on the now quarantined planet of Earth.
The only survivors are Kitai and his badly injured father who has to stay on the ship and help guide his son to retrieve a distress beacon from part of their wrecked ship that’s many miles away. Sounds simple right? Well add Earth’s wildlife that has evolved drastically as well as the animals that Kitai has to go through. Still sound simple? Well aboard the ship was a captured alien monster known as an Ursa that has escaped its cage and is know roaming around.
After Earth may have the stigma of being directed by M. Night Shyamalan but Shyamalan actually has been able to craft a movie that, wait for it, is passable. The movie has some pretty good effects going for it but nothing we haven’t really seen before. Probably the best special effect is of the monster Ursa that looks pretty scary once we get a good look at it and maybe the shifting blade.
Although there are some brief roles by Zoe Kravitz and Sophie Okonedo as the female members of the Raige family, this is basically a two-person show, with Jaden Smith really being front and center. Will Smith on the other hand really just sits down for the whole movie and leaves his son to do all the running, jumping and fighting. The dynamic between the two was a bit rough at times. We know Will Smith for being charismatic but his character here restrains his emotions to the point that his performance comes across as wooden or bland, although it makes some sense for this character. Jaden on the other hand has his moments to shine but his facial expression all kind of looked the same. Also, the accents the have in the movie kind of took me out of it. I don’t want to be that person that hates the entire movie because of a small thing and I’m not in this case, I’m just wondering why they made that decision.
All in all, After Earth isn’t the best movie but it surely is passable and hopefully Shyamalan can ride off this and get back to some of his former stride.
3 out of 5