Some fathers get their sons bikes, or PS3s, some get them major motion picture careers. It’s very sweet that Will Smith shows his son Jaden how much he loves him by giving him a gift no other father can bestow on their offspring, but why do we have to suffer as the audience? I have unfortunate news for you Mr. 4th of July, your kid is a bad actor.
If you’re a major Will Smith fan and cannot wait to flood the theatres to see him kick some alien ass once more, you will be sorely disappointed. This is yet another Jaden Smith show like the misguided Karate Kid remake. Dad is here to just offer some on-screen support, within the story and without. You know it’s bad news when your kid was a much better actor at seven then he is at fourteen.
Of course it doesn’t help that he’s directed by M. Night Shyamalan, whose films are where child stars go to die. For some reason, after extracting an amazing performance by Haley Joel Osment in The Sixth Sense, Shyamalan decided to undo all of that goodwill by making sure he got the absolute worst from child actors. For proof, Youtube some Last Airbender clips. It’s good for indigestion.
At this point, I have to believe the once golden wunderkind of Hollywood, whose each following film flopped more disastrously than the last since 2004, has some horribly incriminating evidence on some major studio power players. How else do you explain him getting the job to helm yet another summer blockbuster, with quite possibly the biggest box-office draw in his cast no less, after the colossal failure of The Last Careerbender?
The story is pulled straight from The Library of Uninspired Science-Fiction Ideas. If you’re such an ardent fan of the post-earth genre, a proud subsidy of post-apocalyptic films revolving around humans leaving earth after an alien attack or other disaster, and you cannot possibly sit through the four months in between Oblivion and Elysium, then this is your movie.
It’s a thousand years after humans left Earth, but now they have to deal with leftover bugs from Starship Troopers in the new planet they have populated. Cypher (Will) and Kitai (Jaden) crash land on Earth and Kitai has to make it through the dangerous landscape in order to retrieve a beacon inside the tail end of the space ship with the help of Cypher, whose legs are broken from the crash.
You would think that this simple premise would at least bring on the CGI goodies in the form of some overgrown wildlife and sweet alien creatures. But you forget that Shyamalan has the unique ability to take a hundred and fifty million dollar movie and make it look like a cheap Syfy Channel special.
So we are treated with wholly unimpressive, sometimes disastrous CGI abominations that Jaden is supposed to pretend to fight with his profound acting range. A CGI eagle who provides one of the most shameless Deus Ex Machinas in recent history also looks one notch above Birdemic quality. Did Shyamalan stand over the shoulders of expensive CGI artists and kept yelling "No! Crappier! Cheaper!"
After Earth is the movie equivalent of preachy new-age self-help books hidden inside a breezy sci-fi summer action package. It’s basically the closest adaptation to Eckhart Tolle’s The Power of Now you’re ever going to get, hopefully. Shyamalan’s shameless spiritual and new age pandering kick started by the wildly overrated Signs hits new unprecedented lows with After Earth, which is all about conquering your fears through The Power of Now.
You see, the aliens of the new planet are blind unless they can smell the pheromones released by their prey. So if you’re not afraid, they can’t see you. Being able to become invisible to the aliens is known as Ghosting, and Cypher has mastered it to perfection. Now it’s time to teach his son through the most ham-fisted narrative imaginable. Shyamalan, not trusting the audience to get the point, even has Kitai’s sister’s ghost (Zoe Kravitz) spell things out to us in perfect terrible storytelling fashion.
Here’s a couple of final advice: Will Smith, give it up. Maybe he’s better at rapping, did you consider that possibility? And whoever is looking to go to jail upon Shyamalan releasing the incriminating evidence, do us all a favor and confess.