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|
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.
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The scientific aspects of the movie look quite outdated.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|
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.
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.
|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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