After Earth

After Earth could have been an exciting action-adventure that could be enjoyed over and over. Instead it is a boring movie that is barely worth watching once. It has been 3 years since M. Night Shyamalan has made a picture. The director of one of the greatest thrillers of all time, return after making some big bombs, critically and finically. For his comeback, he teams up with the man in black, who fights robots, aliens, and big mechanical spiders–Will Smith. However, the Fresh Prince doesn’t come alone, as he costars with the new karate kid, his son Jaden Smith.

Jaden Smith and Will Smith in After Earth

Jaden Smith and Will Smith in After Earth

After numerous cataclysmic events, humans were forced to leave Earth and relocate to an exo-planet called Nova Prime. Thousands of years after the humans left their home planet, Earth continued to adapt and is now a place no human could survive. On Nova Prime, there is a peacekeeping organization called the Ranger Corps and young Kitai Raige (Jaden Smith) was just told he did not pass the test. This is unnacceptable, as Kitai is the son of the great General Cypher Raige (Will Smith). When Cypher returns home from a previous mission, he decides that Kitai will join him on their next training mission. However, there is a major crash and the ship lands on a desolate planet–Earth. Cypher and Kitai are the only survivors, but Cypher is seriously injured. The only way for the two to obtain help while being stuck on the “inhabitable Earth” is a signal for help. That signal is stuck in the tail of the ship that landed nearly 100 kilometers away. Now, Cypher must trust Kitai to get to the tail of the ship, and signal for help before they both die on planet Earth.

It would appear After Earth has everything it needs to be an intense, action adventure. However, once the adventure begins it goes no where but down. After Earth offers some moments worthy of being called an “action-adventure,” but those parts are very hard to come by in this movie. The biggest problem with the movie is simple–it’s boring. When Kitai leaves the destroyed vessel, the movie should turn into a wonderful adventure, as a boy learns the difference between danger and fear. Yet, after he runs from wild monkeys and gets deeper into the jungle, I couldn’t help but look at my watch. The movie that should have put me on the edge of my seat, ended up making want to lie down. I believe M. Night Shyamalan would have to take the majority of the blame here. It was his execution, and lack of suspense that really made After Earth suffer. Don’t get me wrong, there is a one great action sequence during the film’s climax, but even that feels a bit anti-climatic. After Earth pumps you up for an Earth where everything on it has adapted to kill humans, yet it’s not all that bad. There is plenty going on, and plenty of things to stop Jaden Smith, but the movie just doesn’t channel much energy. After Earth even will surprise viewers when it reveals a “Never Ending Story moment.” What I mean by that, is the movie takes a small detour in being a childish adventure, where animals cannot only destroy humans, but save them as well. To be honest, I’m not complaining about the movie’s use of creatures and threats. However, I am complaining about the build up of suspense, or therefore lack of. The best part of an adventure is not knowing the world we are about to explore and the dangers it holds. Well, I can tell you this adventure doesn’t lead you to anywhere special.

The effects in After Earth were a constant bother as well. Now, it wasn’t because they were all terrible. Some effects were actually quite stunning, but they were just too inconsistent. One moment they were visually attractive, other effects looked way too cheesy. The inconsistency kept pulling me from the picture. The effects end up becoming a distraction as you try to concentrate on our main character’s pursuit of survival.

Now, I have to admit, it is mighty hard to criticize Will Smith sometimes. He has such charisma, most people think he has to be the nicest guy in Hollywood. I mean, after all, he is the Fresh Prince. All joking aside, Will delivers a very distant and mediocre performance. For more than half of the movie, Mr. Smith is simply stuck in a chair talking to his son via camera. Now, just because the role doesn’t call for a character to be in the wild fighting along side his son, doesn’t make it a bad one. However, I’m sure Will Smith isn’t the kind of guy audiences want to see strapped to a chair. I feel many actors in Hollywood could have played this role, and gave it ten fold the emotion. Yet, with the action star Will Smith is, I would have love to have seen him and Jaden fight side by side. Like I said, Will isn’t bad, but this isn’t his best either. His son Jaden, steals the show, but that maybe because he’s our soul character for about 70% of the movie. Jaden has his moments of potential, but it is mostly lost as he battles the monsters of C.G.I. Yet, because of those small moments of potential, I enjoyed After Earth more than I would have. The best scene of the film is when Kitai confronts his father about the loss of his sister. The son of the Fresh Prince delivers a touching moment that is pure and genuine. As he screams in anger and fear, and the tears stream down his face, I believed in that character and also gave me something to connect to. It does eventually wear off, just like the chemistry between father and son. Jaden deserves credit for basically carrying the picture, however he’s not the seasoned actor, this movie needed to be beyond mediocre.

The other positive and negative of After Earth was the chemistry shared between real life father and son, Will and Jaden Smith. In the beginning of the picture, the dysfunctional relationship, seems somewhat real. The feeling does seem a bit unnatural, but at least the two manage to work off each other’s emotions. It is visible that the two share a real chemistry. However, as the movie’s story line, splits them up physically, that chemistry also tends to wear off. The movie tries to keep that chemistry the entire picture, as a fearless father trains his naive son. Yet, at some point, it just doesn’t feel intriguing or touching anymore. This maybe because the majority of Will Smith’s dialogue was an inspirational speech. Don’t get me wrong, the speech Will delivers about danger being real, and fear being a choice is incredible. It is touching, true, and wonderfully delivered. Yet, when everything else out of his mouth is supposed to be an equally important speech, that power also disappears. By the third act, it’s like listening to a self-help book.


After Earth was a mediocre and sometimes boring picture, starring one of the most excited actors in Hollywood. Even though the movie offers some good themes about the smell of fear, the only thing I smelt was a bomb.


1.5 out of 4 stars


-By Jacob R. Tiranno


One Response to After Earth

  1. […] movies tend to be uninteresting or unoriginal. He took a really had hit after his last major film, After Earth, in which his son, Jaden Smith costarred in, tanked. Smith recently called the movie, the “most […]

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