Thursday, November 7, 2013

Review 217: "After Earth"

"My suit's turned black. I like it, but I think it's something bad!"

A Long Smith's Night

      After Earth is a 2013 sci-fi film based on an idea by star Will Smith. Planned as the first part of a (hopefully dead) franchise, the film was directed by M. Night Shyamalan (The Sixth Sense) and written by him and Gary Whitta (The Book of Eli). The film follows a human race who were forced to abandoned Earth and now, thousands of years into the future, find themselves locking in a war with alien enemies. Major awesome mega hero yes-that's-really-his-name Cypher Raige (Will Smith) and his son Kitai Raige (Jaden Smith), take part in an ordinary mission that goes horrible wrong and end up on the long deserted Earth. With super duper wicked guy Cypher badly injured and their distress beacon miles away, through dangerous wilderness and animals, Kitai must prove his worth, rescue the beacon and become super awesome himself. Super...

He's sad because he broked his favoretest toy.
Planet of Dumb

      I feel really bad about this. At this point, making fun of an M. Night Shyamalan movie just feels too easy and mean. We all know his movies will mostly likely suck, but we still watch and then are surprised by how much they suck. After Earth, unfortunately, is no real exception. In fact, it's a little bit worse. As awful as The Happening and The Last Airbender were, The After Earth isn't nearly as interestingly bad as they were. Sure, there is the not so subtle subtext in the film were Will Smith plays the human race's most awesome guy and Jaden Smith plays that guy's son whose gets taught how to be just as awesome as him. The rest of the movie however is just your garden variety stacking of one awful things after another. Which is too bad, the premise itself isn't entirely bad. An interesting back story is given and the idea of humans crashing on the abandoned Earth are both cool. But the film largely squanders it. Other than some scientifically impossible, vaguely Earth-like animals evolved to kill humans (On a planet with no humans for a few thousand years?) is the only actual thing that shows this planet is "Earth" and not some other generic alien world.

It Fell Pretty Far

      But even worse than that is just the basic failures in execution. The special effect often look video-gamey and fake. It's never too distracting, but it's noticeable. It's not helped though by the flat direction that misses a lot of M. Night's trademarks (Namely, no real twist here). The story is just as riddle with holes as you'd expect, from the supposedly killer animals suddenly helping young Smith out to old Smith saying he will always keep an eye on young Smith, which of course doesn't stay true. Jaden Smith, not to be mean, but it's fairly clear that he may not have inherited the acting genes. He's truly terrible he, confusing scared and sad for constipated and often looking like he has no clue what the hell is going on. Will Smith is also drained of his normal charm, leaving him flat and robotic in a role that needed to be more nurturing. Sure we're told that he is comforting young Smith, but no one's really buying it. And that all leads to the worst problem of all; the film is just unbearably boring. It picks up slightly during the climax, but the rest of the film is so soul-crushingly dull and generic that it barely registers as a film at all. Which for a film is pretty bad.

Uhh, Jaden? The volcano? Might wanna run...
The Verdict

      After Earth may be M. Night Shyamalan's worst film just from sheer lack of novelty. There's no Marky Mark talking to plants, no world saving writed played by the director, no ties to an animated series. Just plain old badness. Terrible acting, generic direction, bland apocalyptic world, lame CGI, poor writing, a wasted story, silly haircuts. But worst of all is the film's dreadful dullness, making it near impossible to watch without a nap partway through. Another miss for M. Night. After Earth gets 2 stars out of 6. 

1 comment:

  1. Good review Alex. I didn't hate this quite like everybody else did, however, I will admit it was a bit of a dull sci-fi flick. From what we've been seeing of M. Night as of late though, it's definitely not the worst thing he's ever done.