After Earth Review

After-Earth-international-posterWhen I found out that M. Night Shamalyan was directing this film, I got this funny feeling that I wasn’t going to like it. Considering his last few films bombed, I was expecting this one was going to do the same. I’d like to think of myself as a tough but fair person, trying to keep an open mind as to what the director is trying to say. After Earth is the first science fiction from the eccentric director. He did a mediocre job giving you an action film, but I would have loved to see more action scenes, and I guess that’s asking too much from him.

A big action star like Will Smith should have held the movie together with very little effort; however his son, Jaden, didn’t help much. Actually Jaden’s character, Kitai Raige, was boring and annoying. To make matters worse, he was in almost every scene, so I had to stomach his bad acting skills for quite a while. The only salvageable part of his role was him running away from the nasty creatures trying to eat him. Too bad the animals didn’t succeed. OUCH! Was that a little too harsh? Probably, but who cares. Don’t get me wrong, he has potential, I liked him in The Karate Kid with Jackie Chan. He got away with being a pathetic, whiney and crying little kid trying to overcome his fear. It worked in that film because everybody likes to root for the underdog. However, in After Earth, he’s grown up a bit, but sadly he’s still the same whiney and skinny kid, plus his acting skills still have not improved. Maybe if he waits a couple more years, starts putting some muscle on those bones and take some acting classes, he might have a chance. Until then, DON’T ACT JADEN…….Please!

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On the other hand, Will Smith did a better job than his son. He plays Cypher Raige, the father, who is trying to connect with his estrange son the only way a father knows how; by taking him on a military mission through space, and then crash lands on a hostile world, Earth. Will Smith tries to give us a performance that resembles a stiff, take no crap from anybody, military general that has a huge stick up his butt. Believe it or not, he was pretty convincing. After years of playing wildly charismatic roles in a number of action films, he finally tones it down to a melodramatic level that only M. Night can write. The director tries to convince us that a relationship between a father and son can withstand the greatest of odds; mutant animals, ferocious large birds, and the harshest environment imaginable. Will took his character, Cypher to a place where he was unfamiliar with; a relationship with his son on a personal level. Even though his military background was vast and could easily bark orders to his soldiers, he failed to project an ounce of paternal inspiration that his son’s character so desperately needed. Just like in the M. Night films, the dialogue between the two was predictable and too melodramatic. There just wasn’t any spark or excitement between the two. I guess that was what M. Night wanted to portray in the beginning, but unfortunately that lack of excitement carried throughout the film.

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The fear of the unknown, never reaching your highest potential, and being rejected is everybody’s demon to battle. If you want to defeat your fear, you have to fight for it. If that was the message the director wanted to conveyed, it was buried under loads of melodramatic dialogue and a sappy soundtrack. The father and son approach did little to help the already below average script. My advice to M. Night is to stick with stories that are more intimate and personal, and try not to bite more than he can handle. I would recommend watching this movie when it comes out on DVD, and wait a couple of years before renting it, it might get better with age, like a fine wine, but I doubt it.


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