Director: M. Night Shyamalan
So let’s tick off what Hollywood movies are good at. Expensive special effects (tick). Film stars that are paid the average income of a small African country, whilst not usually being very good (tick). Soul-destroying vanity projects that people believe that everyone else in the world will love (tick).
After Earth has so many ticks, it should be visited by the pest control unit.
Set 1,000 years into the future, the film sees Will Smith Sr. play Colonel Cypher Raige, while Jaden Smith Jr. (his son in real life) plays his son Kitai (because in the future everyone will have silly sounding names and no-one will be called ‘Stanley’ or ‘Norman’). The Earth has been abandoned due to a global catastrophe and, due to an asteroid shower, the Raiges find themselves stranded on Earth. Soon it becomes apparent that there are many dangers to face from Earth’s remaining animal inhabitants and an alien race called the Ursa. Soon Kitai must learn to face his fear and actually watch the completed movie. I mean, he must learn to fight the creatures around him.
The biggest trouble with After Earth is that it takes itself so damn seriously, while adding huge dollops of sentimentality on the side. Oooh, let’s all learn about facing our fear and then learn how to accept death. If I wanted to do that, I’d go on some sort of retreat – at least I’d probably get a cup of tea out of it.
The special effects are nice, the Smiths do OK and Shyamalan (who was once one of the most promising directors in the world and now must rack up huge mobile bills by phoning it in everyday) at least manages to point the camera in the right direction.
But this is an overblown and dull mess which is only entertaining if you go in being prepared to laugh at it from beginning to end…