After Earth (2013)

After EarthRelease Date: May 31, 2013

Director: M. Night Shyamalan

Stars: Jaden Smith, Will Smith, Sophie Okonedo

Runtime: 100 min

I’ve only seen two of M. Night Shyamalan’s movies. The Sixth Sense is one of my favourite thrillers. The Happening is not. I’d like to see more of his movies; so I can witness a rise and fall of a famous figure, rather than just hear about one. That being said, I don’t hate the guy as much as many other people do. His new movie, After Earth, is certainly better than The Happening, but not a lot happens.

A crash landing leaves Kitai Raige and his legendary father Cypher stranded on Earth, 1,000 years after events forced humanity’s escape. With Cypher injured, Kitai must embark on a perilous journey to signal for help.

There’s one main plot point that doesn’t make a lick of sense. If humans haven’t been on earth for one thousand years; why do these creatures have a passionate hatred for humans? They cannot evolve to hate and kill humans if they haven’t even seen one during their lifespan. That’s really the only plot point that is truly bothersome and rather stupid. The plot isn’t intriguing in the slightest.

Will Smith’s Cypher sits on the sidelines with two broken legs while his little son (and real life son) goes on a journey fighting off CGI baddies like there’s no tomorrow. He’s a character who is trying to prove his courage, because something happened in the past that he feels is his fault; while he just sat on the sideline and didn’t do anything. Kitai is like Cypher’s little Mario, because he is telling him what to do – except, Kitai makes some decisions for himself that are rather idiotic. This would make Cypher frustrated, as well as the viewer. We’re essentially watching a character control another character, but the one being controlled is a disobedient little shit, who’s trying to be just like his old Pa.

The only part that intrigues me about this movie is the idea of fear; where there are some tips that could help out very anxious people. There’s this phenomena in the movie called ‘ghosting’, where if one has no fear, it hides them from certain creatures. Cypher is the first human to master this technique. There is some depth added to the character of Kitai, because he’s trying to shake cowardice off of himself. The cinematography is very beautiful and it’s a great movie to look at. The CGI is also quite good. There’s a main creature that may or may not be hiding somewhere on Earth; and the idea of whatever it could be is quite terrifying. The actual being? Not so much. It’s, essentially, a hideous CGI-thing that’s a hybrid of cooler creatures from better movies. It made me want to quote Jeff Bridges from that R.I.P.D. trailer, “I don’t know which eyes to shoot you between!”

For an M. Night Shyamalan movie, this is very, very straightforward. There are scenes of intensity and action sequences. They are pretty cool, but nothing memorable. When the action isn’t happening, the movie’s painfully boring. When the action is happening, it’s still pretty freaking boring. It’s the type of movie that makes you want to ask for a pillow and a blanket. This is a new phenomena that will not entertain; but act as the cure for insomnia. For a movie that is only 100 minutes, it feels like it’s over two hours.

The petite cast carries the movie fairly well. Sophie Okonedo is the mother who’s there for one scene. Zoë Kravitz is present throughout the movie; mainly in flashbacks. Birds and crazy apes and jaguars (oh my!) appear throughout. The fourteen-year old Jaden Smith carries the movie well on his shoulders, even if his Atlantic-esque, kind-of British accent is a dagger to my ear. It’s annoying as hell. Jaden Smith captures some good emotions, and he’s a solid little performer; but, if I were the casual moviegoer, he wouldn’t attract me to his movies on opening weekend. Maybe eventually, but I can’t imagine it right now. His character’s decisions are silly; and at some points when he is in mortal danger, I thoughts to myself, “If he dies, the movie will end… Yippee!”

Will Smith just sits back and looks bored and is in pain throughout the movie. When his son cracks a joke, he replies: “That is correct.” Apparently when one isn’t afraid, they also surrender all emotions. He’s really milking the military father approach, but the Fresh Prince is way too serious and dull here. It’s his story, and it isn’t so fresh. Since it’s his story; why the hell does he look so bored? His character falls asleep in some parts, and all I think at that moment is: “I’m with ya, Prince!”

In a nutshell: There’s a good central performance by little Jaden Smith. The cinematography’s beautiful, as is the the setting. It’s just a very basic, straightforward movie that doesn’t have any surprises hiding away. Oblivion isn’t excellent, but at least it’s interesting. This is so slowly paced and boring, that it should come with a warning that reads: This movie may cause extreme drowsiness.


18 thoughts on “After Earth (2013)

  1. I’ve seen all of Shyamalan’s stuff except for The Last Airbender and this one. You’re not missing much at this point. I will say that I kind of cherish The Happening because it’s so inadvertently hilarious.

    I might actually see this in theaters before it goes away. It’s going to be bad, but I feel like I have to find out for myself just how bad.

    1. I think I just want to have a marathon week and watch all of his stuff, and even re-watch The Happening. LOL, that’s true. I think it’s hilarious when that old lady is crashing her head through the windows; and then that other scene with the shotgun…

      Yeah, I’d recommend doing that lol. Don’t go in with any expectations. I saw this one little review blurb that gave me a chuckle, it’s clever. “Bad movies are real. Seeing this one is a choice.”

      1. My favorite part of The Happening is when the lady says something like “You’re going to kill me in my sleep,” and Wahlberg goes “What? No!”

        I wonder how many more movies Shyamalan will make that horribly butchers evolution. He’s 0 for 2 so far.

      2. LOL, that part’s funny. What a senile old bat…

        I wonder if he’ll ever make a good movie again… Did you ever see Devil? I think he wrote that one.

      3. I liked the taut atmosphere. I’ll have to rewatch that as well. And I like that “The snozzberries taste like snozberries” guy from Super Troopers, LOL.

  2. Good review Dan. I can’t say I hated it like most, but I will admit that it is a bit of a dull-fest. Still, I didn’t mind it that much.

    1. I’ll make sure to read your thoughts tomorrow. I just thought it was boring. I wouldn’t say I loathe it, mostly because I had no expectations. I gave it a fair score because I liked little Smith’s performance (but not his accent), I liked the cinematography, and I thought the concept of fear was handled fairly well. Thanks for stopping by, Dan.

  3. So, what you’re saying is that instead of taking an Ambien I should just watch After Earth?

    1. Basically!! You’ll save a lot of money, I’m sure ;D

      Save your first viewing for a night when you can’t sleep. And then you’d have to finish it the next day. Though, I haven’t tested out my theory… I didn’t fall asleep, but I could have if I wanted to…

  4. If I were you, I wouldn’t be in a hurry to see more from M.Night’s past. Seeing The Sixth Sense, The Happening and After Earth already gives you the proper idea of his career arc. It’s pretty amazing, in a sad sort of way.

    1. Haha it is! The only ones that are on my for sure watchlist are Signs and Unbreakable. Maybe The Village. I might watch Lady in the Water for Bryce Dallas Howard… I really am in no hurry to see The Last Airbender though, lol.

      1. Both Signs and Unbreakable are pretty solid, though neither is great. I’m in the minority in that I like Unbreakable a touch more than Signs.

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