Film Review: After Earth

After humans evacuate Earth for distant world Nova Prime, they encounter a race of aliens known as Ursas that hunt humans by literally smelling their fear. However, General Cypher Raige (Will Smith) has developed a technique to control his fear, rendering himself invisible to the Ursas. After crash landing on Earth, causing Cypher to break both his legs, his son Kitai (Jaden Smith) must trek through dangerous forests, pursued by an Ursa, in order to reach a distress beacon and save his father.

Cast your mind back to the turn of the millennium and director M. Night Shyamalan was a director on the lips of many after bringing us The Sixth Sense and Unbreakable. However, since then he has gone on to make some of the most widely derided films around and has now become somewhat of a laughing stock amongst film-goers and critics alike. Such is the fall of his reputation that barely even notice his name attached to After Earth. Instead, it is very much a Will & Jaden Smith production, although the results are equally as unremarkable.

It’s been almost impossible to escape the Smith Machine over the past couple of months as the two of them have appeared in pretty much everything you watch/read/look at/dream about, showcasing that ‘cool guy’ Smith persona everyone apparently loves so much. Which is odd, as absolutely none of that whatsoever shows up in the film. Will Smith spends the entirety of the film sat in a chair being an emotionless hardass towards his son, which does nothing to endear you to him whatsoever. Equally, Jaden Smith spends much of the time being a whiny little brat, and so you don’t really warm to him either – not the best character traits for your two leading roles. The most touching moment of the whole film comes from a giant eagle, which says it all really.

The actors aren’t helped by their script, either. The whole thing feels like a ‘get from point A to point B and kill some monsters on the way’ computer game, whilst the script is full of cliched monologues and soundbites that seem custom written for the IMDB ‘quotes’ page. And these just take away from the most interesting thing in the film – its setting. Yes it’s on Earth, but it’s an Earth abandoned by humans and reclaimed by animals that have evolved to kill humans. Imagine the possibilities to create interesting evolution of Earth’s creatures and fauna. Except we never really get to see many of them. We see some kind of tiger creature, a jumping snake and the aforementioned massive eagle. But that’s about it. We never really feel that much has changed since the humans left.

After Earth isn’t a complete write off, however. Some of the action sequences, although largely ‘by numbers’, are reasonably exciting, and what we do see of the environment is pretty impressive; we just don’t see enough of it. There are also glimpses throughout the film that suggest Shyamalan clearly wanted to make a different film from what he has done. There are a few moments that wouldn’t be out of place in a horror film, which do make for a darker and more interesting film at times, but it just screams of the director trying to make himself heard over the engine of this Smith created vehicle.

After Earth isn’t really going to harm Shyamalan’s reputation but it’s in no way going to enhance it and the same goes for The Smiths. In fact, this film isn’t really going to do much for anyone. It might provide a bit of mindless entertainment for some for a couple of hours, but expect it to disappear without a trace pretty quickly.

2 pigeons2/5 pigeons

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44 thoughts on “Film Review: After Earth

  1. filmhipster says:

    LOL, this just sounds soooooooo bad. Shame on you Shyamalan.

  2. theipc says:

    Looks terrible, sounds terrible.

  3. CMrok93 says:

    Good review. Didn’t hate this one like everybody else on the face of the planet did, but I will admit that it is a bit lazy in it’s ways. A bit, not too lazy.

  4. I liked it a bit more than you did Chris, but I’d still readily admit it’s nothing special. The plot, as you point out, is a pretty straight fetching quest, with a side order of “hero’s journey”. The characters are also very cold, as you point out, which isn’t the best thing for the movie, either. 😦

    • You know, I came out thinking it wasn’t too bad but the more I’ve thought about it, the worse it got in my mind. It was so predictable, you knew exactly what was going to happen at every turn and there was just nothing to the characters. I actually think Jaden came out of this better than Will.

  5. I loved Shyamalan so much–so sad to see his demise. I don’t know how he can recover his once lofty appeal.

  6. Nick Powell says:

    I’m surprised how many people are actually reviewing this movie and actually paid to see it lol.. Thanks for reiterating all the stuff I’ve heard of it though. Not much that could save Shcamslmalmglananadingaldnogn now, is there? And Will Smith may be heading towards the poop shoot as well.

    • Haha, I had even read all the negative reviews and still went to see it so I guess I only have myself to blame! Has Will Smith ever actually made a really good film? He’s made a few half decent things but I can’t think of much that is really that great.

  7. mistylayne says:

    I have heard nothing but negative about this. The trailer didn’t make it look interesting at all. It sounds for sure that the premise could have been used so much more effectively.

    • That’s the thing – when the trailer isn’t even interesting, you know you’re on to a loser! It could easily have been so much better. It’s not a total failure, but it could easily have been so much better.

  8. Monkeyboy says:

    What’s the twist? Does Will Smith wake up in 1990, and find he’s still in The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air?

  9. ckckred says:

    Nice review. I have absolutely no interest in seeing this movie.

  10. nediunedited says:

    I feel bad for M. Night…I really, really miss him and wanted this to be better. I did not HATE it–but it was pretty forgettable. I watched this after Now You See Me–and it was actually better than that one–LOL!

    Later! 😀

  11. Zoë says:

    Hahahaha! “…appeared in pretty much everything you watch/read/look at/dream about…” that bad, huh? Awesome review, and again reminds me that I should probably just give this a skip!

    • Thanks Zoe 🙂 I just found the whole thing very workmanlike, in that it just felt like no-one was really putting in that much effort. I think The Smiths put more effort into the promotion of the film. It’s not absolutely terrible but you won’t be missing much.

  12. Mark Hobin says:

    After Earth isn’t really going to harm Shyamalan’s reputation because every movie since Signs has already done that for him. Thanks for the warning. 🙂

  13. I really want to hate this film when it comes to free streaming at some point. I hope I don’t end up actually hating it less than I anticipate I will. 😉

  14. mettelray says:

    Still want to see it.. give it two pigeons or one, I’ll still watch it. I miss movies that much! 😀

  15. lauren says:

    I keep hoping that everytime Shyamalan brings out a new film it will go back to the brillance of The Six Sense and Unbreakable. Unfortunatly I’m not sure if he’ll ever make a comeback.

  16. table9mutant says:

    Good review. 🙂 But, ugh, this sounds terrible… :-/

  17. Mark Walker says:

    “The most touching moment of the whole film comes from a giant eagle, which says it all really”

    LOL. That’s enough for me to fully avoid it, Chris. Nice write-up, man.

  18. Beer Movie says:

    Nice review man. I hated this film so much. How is it that the Smiths can be so charismatic in real life (chat shows are real life right?) but so utterly lacking in charisma in this film. I think this is my least favourite film so far this year.

  19. yep. 2 out of 5 is right. when will Shyamalan get back to something good?

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