Skip to main content

Movie Review: After Earth (2013)

Columbia Pictures
Runtime: 1 hour, 40 minutes
Rated: PG-13 (for sci-fi action violence and some disturbing images)
Director: M. Night Shyamalan
Writers: Gary Whitta, M. Night Shyamalan
Starring: Jaden Smith, Will Smith, Sophie Okonedo
Action | Adventure

With Will Smith in the background and young Jaden Smith now taking the lead, After Earth takes place 1,000 years in the future when an alien race has taken over, one that can literally smell your fear through pheromone secretions. This strange race of a fiercely predatorily nature sets in motion a biological evolution on earth, rendering it uninhabitable to humans.

When Captain “Cypher Raige” (Will Smith) and his son “Kitai Raige” (Jaden Smith) are forced to make an emergency landing on their once-beloved home world, only father and son are the survivors. With the ship broken into pieces and his father disabled, it becomes Kitai’s job to keep them alive by retrieving a honing device that can bring a rescue party to their location. But the device is far away and the trip toward it a hostile one.

It is a revisit of the commonly laid-out theme of the demanding “Be a man!” father versus the emotionally vulnerable son who hasn’t yet found his way—of course, with a big break-thru on the horizon as the two must meet in the middle as they grow as human beings. It’s a familiar but more than workable schematic…or it would have been if it had worked.

Slipping in and out of a techno-nerd’s fascination with gadgets, super suits, and planetary science specs, After Earth is more concerned with taking plenty of time to develop its struggling father-son relationship, which it does in a slow-build and tiresome manner that makes it feel longer than it is. And few will consider the melodramatic beat-down worth the time.

We could be a lot more forgiving if someone knew how to credibly convey human emotion, but no one does. Jaden Smith’s performance, unlike his other respectable performances in The Karate Kid (2010) and The Day The Earth Stood Still (2008), is way overdone and, in fact, unlivable as he portrays a skittish, confidence-lacking kid who has yet to reach his potential.

None of the characters grow on us or touch any of our sensitivities. And as we never end up caring for anything or anyone - with the plot itself constructed in such a way that makes it seem not particularly appealing or probable - we finish out with a feeling of gross dissatisfaction.

Sad to say, After Earth is another largely unpleasant exercise in facing the fact that M. Night Shyamalan’s once promising career has taken an irreparable thrashing.


Popular posts from this blog

When Jesus Turns Down the Glory: 10 Worst Ever Christian Songs

It’s a sad testimony when even the creator of a thing realizes that the product isn’t what it was intended to be. Well, actually it’s a good thing. It just doesn’t happen often enough. The Christian music industry is, shall we say, not up to par with where its admirers (and even creators and ardent well-wishers) would hope it would be. And when even the average believer realizes that their music is not market-cornering stuff, all should know that there is a problem.

Now not all Christian music sucks (you might even find a few rock songs from artists like Petra on Joe Holman’s ipod that he still sometimes listens to and enjoys), but what makes the stuff that does suck suck is that what sucks sucks for a number of different reasons. We begin the countdown going from best of the worst to absolute worst...

The Top 5 Most Powerful Beings in Sci-fi (Part I of II)

It’s a subject that is rarely tackled in any form outside of random questions on a message board, but here we will devote a sensible examination of it. Who – what – is the most powerful being anywhere in every realm of sci-fi or fantasy ever dreamt up by a finite human being? I’ve been contemplating this subject since I was 8 years old. At 39, it hasn’t left my mind. That means several things; (1) I’m a fucking geek. (2) I’ve invested enough of my life pondering this for it to qualify as an obsession.

As with all “Most” anything lists, we are faced with several problems, one of them being limited source material. A couple of these only made one or two brief appearances somewhere and that is all we have to go by. But sometimes, those situations let our imaginations go into overdrive and give us even more creative fun. The mystery tends to add to the experience of contemplation.

The Top 5 Most Powerful Beings in Sci-fi (Part II of II)

#1) The Douwds – From Star Trek The Next Generation

Claim to fame: This Douwd went from pacifist to mass murderer of 50 billion in a single moment of anger. He appears to hold the record for most murders in all of sci-fi.
Abilities: Just about unlimited.
Nature: True immortals.

Our winner, debatably edging out number #2, is a mysterious race of beings called the Douwds. We only get to meet one of their kind in a single episode (#51, season 3 - see the condensed version here) called “The Survivors.” It was one of the very best of any season. What little we know of this illusive race “of disguises and false surroundings” only adds to our fascination with them.

When the Enterprise gets an urgent distress call from a federation colony on Delta Rana IV about an attacking alien warship, they head over as fast as they can, but they are days away. By the time they arrive, it is too late. All are dead and the planet has been literally leveled…with the sole exception of one house and the small pa…