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.
Directed by: M. Night Shyamalan
. Starring: Jaden Smith
, Will Smith
, Sophie Okonedo
, Zoë Kravitz
, Glenn Morshower
, Kristofer Hivju
, Sacha Dhawan
, Chris Geere
, Diego Klattenhoff
, David Denman
, Lincoln Lewis
, Jaden Martin
, Sincere L. Bobb
. Music by: James Newton Howard
Apparently, 130 million dollars was burned through to achieve this. I can only imagine the studio must have insured it for a billion in order to make a huge claim. It has to be a scam. I can discern no other explanation for it. I am a firm believer that hardly anyone would deliberately set out to make a bad movie. But...to green light a project that was clearly potentially financial and definitely artistic suicide from the outset is either unparallelled lunacy or a caper of some sort. Evidence being that the script alone could not have been any more of a monolithic flop indicator if it came with giant neon signs spelling out M-E-G-A T-U-R-K-E-Y in flashing twelve-foot high letters.
At this point I'm not going to go into the plot in any depth but I am going to raise the issue of the atrocious acting from both father and son. Papa Smith needs to drop the kid. I mean, I know blood is thicker than water and all, but this child is never going to be an actor and he's just going to stink up any project he's ever involved in. Yes, I know, I know it's really hard for any parent to accept that their child is truly useless at something as easy as a running and jumping game of pretend in front of a green screen, but we all have to face facts. Kid is a dead loss. Find him another career or just pay him to stay at home or, maybe even let him find his own way in the world. He has no acting talent whatsoever. Accept it, get over it and move on.
The same might soon be said for Papa Smith if he can't turn in something better than this these days. He played his role with all the animation, charisma, presence and dramatic expression of a plank of balsa. I accept that he was portraying someone who is an expert at controlling their emotions, but he achieved the nigh-on impossible feat of making Keanu Reeve's moribund turn in THE DAY MY FACE STOOD STILL seem a master-class example of the thespian art. Smith senior stares intensely into the camera a lot, grunts and puffs a bit when his legs are broken and goes to sleep every so often then wakes up again looking a bit groggy. All the time those trademark jug-ears make him look like an Easter Island head with satellite dishes on either side. Smith Junior, meanwhile, has his stunt double run and jump about the place until he gets a close-up wherein he wildly furrows his brow, loses control of his jaw, pops his eyes and telegraphs episodes of respiratory failure with all the conviction of a burned-out porn star simulating an orgasm. Both father and son should pause for thought and take stock.
Here's another thing – career moves born out of personal obsessions are sometimes not the way to go. I get that certain Hollywood types feel the need to voraciously ram their pretentious hobbies and eccentricities into the eager faces of their audiences, but just go make an advert or take out a page in a paper if you feel the need. Frittering away 130 mil on an extended propaganda piece for your favourite sci-fi mock-religious cult baloney is nothing short of obscene. Travolta had a shot at it and bombed. Smith's attempt may make back some of the dough, but even so it's truly awful cinema. Should Cruise ever step up to the plate marked "Egocentric Vanity Jerk" I expect the results to be pretty much the same.
Performances aside, along with the Scientology mumbo-jumbo, if the film had been any good I would be much more forgiving. But it's a predictable CGI drag from beginning to end that boringly rehashes some sci-fi iconography from other much more creatively original sources. The core philosophymessage is the simplistic mantra of "you have nothing to fear but fear itself." Whoo-hoo! Ya think?
M. Knight Charlatan directs in a listless and linear way and the narrative has no twists or turns – it just ploughs the same one-note furrow from beginning to end. Some of the CG eye-candy grabs the attention for brief periods, but it's mostly dull and drab. The dialogue has no spark or life and consists of daisy chained clichés or terse blocks of hilarious cod-philosophical speech. "Danger is real, but fear is a choice." Yeah, well "Bowel actions are real, but toilet paper is a choice." Next?
Just as most filmmakers don't deliberately make bad films most film-watchers don't deliberately want to dislike or not enjoy the films they watch. And I'm of that ilk. But I am struggling to find much positive to say about AFTER EARTH. Even so, globally it took around 243 mil at the box office and there are rumours of a sequel. If the sequel is real then my fear definitely isn't a choice. In that case I'll overcome my fear through avoidance.
Review by Tony Bush from the Internet Movie Database.