Imagine the situation, the Smith family table at dinner:
Jaden: Hey dad why don’t we make a Sci-Fi film where we show just how cool we are and how we’re scared of nothing at all?
Will: Good idea son, M Night Shyamalan hasn’t made a good film in 10 years, he’s probably got no artistic integrity left, I’ll ask him what he’s doing with himself.
And that’s how After Earth was created. Nothing more than a shameless vanity project with director for hire M Night Shyamalan brought in to help Will and Jaden show us just how great they are.
Here’s what little plot we are given for the movie: Will’s character General Cypher is scared of nothing or nobody, he’s the great warrior his planet has ever seen. His son Kitai on the other hand can cut the mustard in training but lacks any ability in the field. As a bit of father and son bonding Cypher and Kitai head off on into deep space for a mission, their ship though loses control for some reason and crashes into earth. Except Earth isn’t the planet we all know and love, 1,000 years in the future (though it never bothers specifying properly) everyone on Earth has been eaten by aliens so now it’s not a good place to go visiting.
Upon landing Cypher breaks his legs and Kitai must go on a mission to save both his and his father’s lives by retrieving some beacon from the other side of the Island. Standing in Kitai’s way are some alien/monsters (one of which was also on their ship) which can smell fear, so Kitai has to somehow learn to stop being so scared and be fearless like his father, otherwise he’ll get eaten. Lovely stuff.
I have plenty of criticisms for this movie, it’s got plot holes galore, the script is atrocious and the CGI is shoddy but my biggest problem with this movie was its star, Jaden Smith.
It must be nice to have a father who can just land you a movie role in a big summer blockbuster but unfortunately for us as a movie going audience it just means we’re stuck with what may well be the worst performance of 2013 so far.
His facial expressions are often so exaggerated or badly timed that they look as he has been learning them from text emoticons whilst his delivery is like that of a nervous child reading a book to the rest of their class.
It’s also seems that the once charismatic and charming Will Smith has become a shadow of his former self. Delivering his lines in such a boring and stunted manner it’s difficult to believe the former Prince of Bel Air had ever made a movie in the past.
Criticising M. Night Shyamalan seems to be many people’s favourite pass times but I’m willing to forgive him for this film. His last five films may have been an absolute nightmare but I can’t help but think the Smith’s had more control over this movie than he did.
Granted he wrote and directed the film but the movie was supposedly Smith’s idea in the first place and we know that Shyamlan has never been the strongest of writers. To his credit the movie isn’t poorly made and there are a few moments where the movie reminds you that he knows how to make a good film but to say they are few and far between would be doing him justice.
Verdict: A shameless vanity project from start to finish. The plot’s a mess; Jaden’s character is about as lovable as genital warts and the script is cringe worthy. A serious candidate for worst film of 2013 so far.