I like Will Smith not because he’s Will Smith, but because he starred in a lot of great movies. I’m a bit less impressed with Will Smith’s blatant nepotism to promote his son as a movie star and not impressed with Jaden Smith at all. And this is a Jaden Smith film, he got top billing over his father and the title.
After Earth was an OK movie, it’s greatest weaknesses being director M. Night Shyamalan and it’s star Jaden Smith. Sony has done an amazing job of hiding any connection M. Night Shyamalan has to After Earth, but there is no hiding the fact that Will Smith’s son is the sort-of hero in this coming of age sci fi and CGI tale.
The story is a tad on the confusing side and makes next to no sense on many fronts. The setup for the story is the now standard Humans Are Scum Who Ruined The Earth with the added problem that aliens want to kill us for some unknown reason. But not to worry-space faring, faster than light traveling, super advanced tech humans have found a solution to the alien problem-a really nifty Swiss Army Knife. Seriously, they kill the giant monsters with morphing swords. Hmm, OK.
Outside of the silly sci-fi elements, it’s basically the story of a boy becoming a man as he seeks to save his gravely injured father. It’s the kind of story that was stock and trade in westerns. There’s also a WWII impossible mission movie kind of feel. There was a smattering of applause as the credits started to roll and I liked it fine, but didn’t love it. Of course, I seldom love movies.
Jaden Smith gets the bulk of the screen time as the boy on a hopeless mission with a world doing it’s best to kill him. Jaden has to fight everything from monkeys and leopards to the very air he has to breath. He does a good job of looking scared and there are a couple of shots where they go out of their way to make him look like Will Smith. Meanwhile, Will Smith has two broken legs for the bulk of the film and does a lot of stern faced grimacing as he slowly bleeds to death. There are a handful of other actors but the CGI flora and fauna are the real costars and don’t look all that amazing.
Like so many movies, After Earth could have used another re-write and maybe some work with a real writer. It had a few good moments, but not as many as I would have liked.