UK Release Date: 7th June 2013
Runtime: 100 minutes
Director: M Night Shyamalan
Writer: M Night Shyamalan, Gary Whitta
Starring: Jaden Smith, Will Smith, Sophie Okonedo
Synopsis: When their plane crashes on the dystopia that used to be Earth, a father and son team must put aside their differences to stand a chance of rescue.
Remember when Will Smith was fun? He used to be a stunning comic actor and the most bankable star in Hollywood. Now, he makes movies like After Earth – a joyless, dull exercise in shameless nepotism.
Smith plays a military hero who is responsible for helping humanity colonise a planet called Nova Prime after the Earth becomes uninhabitable. On his last mission before retirement, his wife (Sophie Okonedo) convinces him to take their under-achieving son (Jaden Smith) with him. Their ship crashes on Earth, injuring Will and leaving Jaden to recover their lost distress beacon.
It’s a very weak story, courtesy of daddy Will, and ultimately ends up playing out like a tedious survival video game, rather than a huge summer blockbuster movie. The climax even plays out like something any gamer will recognise as a boss fight.
The most remarkable thing about After Earth is how stiff Will Smith’s performance is. The man who helped the world laugh through the 90s is, here, an icy, wooden military man with absolutely no emotion – even when he’s supposed to be conveying it. His real-life son Jaden (gimmick alert!) is equally pathetic, simply portraying his character as a standard irritating child. There’s supposed to be an emotional progression for both characters, but neither bothers to show it through their performances.
Neither are helped by the fact that they chose M Night Shyamalan to helm their family vanity picture. Whilst After Earth doesn’t deserve as much bile as some of his earlier efforts, the writing and direction certainly leaves a lot to be desired.
It’s in the script department that Shyamalan falls down dramatically. Every single line of After Earth is full to the brim of ludicrous sci-fi contrivance and quasi-philosophical guff that would embarrass even the cast of Prometheus. The dialogue is so ridiculous that this film, purely by accident, is a lot funnier than The Hangover Part III.
Do you agree with my review? Let me know in the comments section.