A crash landing leaves Kitai Raige and his father Cypher stranded on Earth, a millennium after events forced humanity's escape. With Cypher injured, Kitai must embark on a perilous journey to signal for help.
Apartment building superintendent Cleveland Heep rescues what he thinks is a young woman from the pool he maintains. When he discovers that she is actually a character from a bedtime story who is trying to make the journey back to her home, he works with his tenants to protect his new friend from the creatures that are determined to keep her in our world.
M. Night Shyamalan
Bryce Dallas Howard,
In the year 2154, the very wealthy live on a man-made space station while the rest of the population resides on a ruined Earth. A man takes on a mission that could bring equality to the polarized worlds.
One thousand years after cataclysmic events forced humanity's escape from Earth, Nova Prime has become mankind's new home. Legendary General Cypher Raige returns from an extended tour of duty to his estranged family, ready to be a father to his 13-year-old son, Kitai. When an asteroid storm damages Cypher and Kitai's craft, they crash-land on a now unfamiliar and dangerous Earth. As his father lies dying in the cockpit, Kitai must trek across the hostile terrain to recover their rescue beacon. His whole life, Kitai has wanted nothing more than to be a soldier like his father. Today, he gets his chance. Written by
Father doesn't always know best, the latest result being After Earth, a vanity project that Will Smith has concocted for his son, Jaden. This wobbly sci-fi tale of survival will certainly test both Mr. and Mr. Smith's star power. Director M. Night Shyamalan, the man who continually keeps falling from grace, one film after the next, is still tumbling further from his talented beginnings, although here the director crashes and burns.
This is not to say that After Earth is hopelessly clichéd, it's just hopeless. Shymalan's well- made film has some striking imagery, mostly of panoramic vistas, but his ill-conceived screenplay (co-written with Gary Whitta) keeps this exercise in filmmaking rather earthbound. Adding to that, his main star and one of the film's producers, Papa Smith, pushes nepotism to its limits with this unoriginal dreck. (He is also given story credit for this silliness.) It's not just that this film has no Will power, it just has too much of it, both on screen and off.
Will Smith plays the fearless Cypher Raige, a no-nonsense military commando sent on a mission with his newt of a son, Kitai, played by Jaden Smith. Cypher is disappointed with his son's lack of achievement as a cadet and their relationship is a bit strained, just like the acting. The Smiths obviously look the part and act the part with the same stilted delivery. Like father, like son. Unfortunately (for us), they crash land on the apocalyptic Planet Earth. Cypher is injured with two broken legs, but pain is not an option. However a better script would have helped matters. Kitai must now go into rescue mode, wearing his amazing technicolor space suit, fighting beasts and creatures along the way to becoming a man.
On his journey of self-awareness, Kitai contends with imminent peril: giant baboons, poisonous leeches, carnivorous tigers, and such. He needs to deal with the fluctuating below-freezing temperatures and an active volcano too. Life is hard. Kitai even battles a monster called the Ursa, a predator that hunts by sensing fear. (If the creature could instead sense the smorgasbord of bad acting on its plate, the Ursa would never go hungry again.) The elder Smith underacts and speaks in annoying solemn platitudes while the younger Smith overacts in a squeaky nasal voice that only a teenager can tolerate.
The art direction is mind-numbing. The futuristic sets are bargain basement knockoffs of Disney World's Tomorrowland, circa 1960...very unimaginative with an overabundance of Rubbermaid-influenced interiors and enough flowing linen sheets to make one think that Bed, Bath, and Beyond had given the filmmakers a cut-rate deal for some product endorsements. All of the special effects are barely adequate and not the least bit compelling. After Earth has a strange lethargic listlessness throughout its short length. The film never builds any real tension or suspense. It's just so dull and unrelenting in its stupidity.
After Earth is the type of film that gives the sci-fi genre a bad name. Shyamalan and the Smiths might want to use other aliases after creating this debacle. Let's hope they refine their own survival skills when making another film. After Earth is strictly Ursa Minor.
So dear moviegoers, heed the film's tag-line: "Danger is real, Fear is a choice". You have been sufficiently warned about the real dangers in viewing After Earth...Fear not, it's still in your control. GRADE: C-
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