Monday, June 3, 2013

Movie Review - After Earth (2013)

 
Will Smith and Jaden Smith in After Earth (2013) movie review

The opening scenes give us a quick overview of the preceding events. Earth has undergone drastic changes and humans are being hunted by monsters called "Ursas" released by aliens.
 
Ursas are technically blind but hunt humans by smelling the pheromones secreted out of fear. The "Ghosting" technique involves masking one's fear and thus becoming invisible to Ursas, enabing one to kill it. General Cypher Raige (Will Smith), the "Prime Commander" is the first Ghost and is a legend for his Ursa killing skills.

Sophie Okonedo as Faia Rage and Zoë Kravitz as Senshi Raige in After Earth (2013)
Sophie Okonedo as Faia Rage and Zoë Kravitz as Senshi Raige
Cypher's son, Kitai Raige (Jaden Smith) has an artistic temparament and suffers from recurring nightmare of witnessing his sister, Senshi Raige (Zoë Kravitz) being killed by an Ursa. Cypher and Kitai are emotionally distant and at Mrs Faia Raige's (Sophie Okonedo) suggestion, Cypher takes Kitai along on his mission. A generic space mishap makes them crash on Earth and only the father-son duo survive (Surprise, Surprise).
 
Cypher informs his son that other lifeforms on Earth have "evolved" to hate human beings. In addition, there are wild climate fluctuations that can put one's life in instant jeopardy. Cypher's legs are badly injured and Kitai has to go on an one man trek in the hostile territory in search of a MacGuffin to save the day (Surprise again).
 
Struck to his seat and left motionless, Cypher starts having flashbacks of his daughter and even shares some anecdotes with his son. Cue a lot of unintentional hilarity.


Jaden Smith as Kitai Raige doing some action hero type things in After Earth (2013)
Jaden Smith as Kitai Raige doing some action hero type things in After Earth
The digitally created creatures on Earth (baboons, tigers) look to be computer generated rather than realistic as they are intended to be and the chase/action scenes are pedestrian.

The scientific aspects of the movie look quite outdated. The displays on Cypher's spaceship are old school and would be right at home in a B movie from the 1980s. If nothing, this movie will serve the purpose of showing the public how tough it is to make a good space movie. I definitely gained a new sense of respect for the recently released Star Trek sequel.
 
One of the shots of human heads strung on a tree reminded me of a similar shot in the Zack Snyder directed 300.
 
The initial prologue is one of the weakest I have seen with the extras running around, like in a low budget sci fi TV show.

Will Smith as General Cypher Raige in After Earth (2013)
Will Smith as General Cypher Raige in After Earth
Will Smith's usual charisma and winsome personality is lost in his performance as an emotionless warrior.

Sophie Okonedo as Faia Rage delivers the best performance, despite her limited screen time. Similarly, Zoë Kravitz is good in her role.

Lacking both imagination and humor (of the intentional kind), this is an assembly line product made with the sole purpose of launching Jaden Smith's career as a leading man.


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Unintentional hilarity abounds, thanks to the movie's self serious tone and cliched script - Kitai's artistic nature vs Cypher's emotionless one, a subordinate asking to be raised on his one leg to salute Cypher, the cheap props in the prologue, the name "Cypher" and his designation "Prime Commander". The cliches are just one too many.
 
Contrast this with Fast & Furious 6, whose lack of self seriousness and the ability to poke fun at the ridiculousness of the premise results in some well-earned laughs.


Jaden Smith as Kitai Raige in After Earth (2013)
Jaden Smith as Kitai Raige wears the same expression throughout the movie
Coming back to After Earth, I actually laughed out loud when Kitai spoke his lines for the first time. The accent used by Jaden as Kitai is hilarious. Jaden Smith delivers a one-note performance, comprised mainly of a continuous look of constipation.
 
The final encounter reminded me of the Frodo-Shelob encounter in The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King. Ursa itself looks to be inspired from the titular creature in The Alien and the Kraken from Clash of The Titans.

M. Night Shyamalan continues his descent into cinematic abyss. One wonders how come the director of this insipid movie also made The Sixth Sense. Following the director's footsteps, the rest of the crew have also turned out mediocre work.

Jaden Smith as Kitai Raige in After Earth
Funniest line in the movie - Cypher to Kitai: "Take a Knee! Take a Knee, Cadet!"
In a nutshell: A laughably bad movie, that is typical of M. Night Shyamalan but represents a rare misstep for Will Smith.

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Image Source: Box Office Mojo, Columbia Pictures, Overbrook Entertainment and Blinding Edge Pictures

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14 comments:

  1. After reading the negative reviews, I was to sure to skip this. I am almost surprised that it turn out so horribly but Shyamalan has made a lot of bad movies of late. I probably need to his other film "Unbreakable" some time though, it sounds decent.

    -James

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks James. Skipping this movie is a very smart move.

      B2B.

      Delete
  2. Darn, I was hoping it would be good.
    I'll wait till it comes to the library.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I too thought Will Smith's participation would have resulted in a good movie. But, no such luck....

      B2B.

      Delete
  3. Hardly a surprise, I really hope M. Night stops getting work. He's peaked a long time ago and it's just been a downward slide ever since.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. LOL. With this project, he has pretty much declared himself to be a director-for-hire. Let's see how far he can continue, before his luck runs out.

      B2B.

      Delete
  4. Wasn't even gonna see this. Glad to hear not seeing it's good. I've heard tales of the awfulness of Shamalyan. Plus, he TOTALLY screwed up The Last Airbender, and for that, my fangirl heart can not forgive him...

    ReplyDelete
  5. Oh, and I love some of your captions!

    ReplyDelete
  6. What's funny about "take a knee, take a knee, cadet?" That didn't even get a scoff let alone a laugh. I thought the funniest line in the movie was when Jaden said, "My suit's turned black! I like it but I think it's something bad!" We thought it was so funny that we rewound the scene and listened to it again. Typical of a kid to think that his clothing looked cool, even though he was in danger.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The funny part about "Take a Knee, Take a Knee, cadet" is the absolute seriousness with which the line is delivered.

      Humor is very subjective and varies from person to person.

      Thanks for the comment.

      B2B.

      Delete
  7. I don't see why there is something about After Earth, except for the main actor Jaden Smith and the misleading title. I see the potentiality of this movie and first of all Will Smith was trying to make a serious acting not being devoid of any expressions.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for the comment.

      As the saying goes: “To each his/her own”

      B2B.

      Delete