Thursday, June 6, 2013

After Earth Review

In case you haven't noticed yet, this year in Hollywood we have been on an end of the world craze, sparked by the end of the world rumors due to the end of the Mayan calendar in December. Obviously the world didn't end because we are still here, but the event gave Hollywood tons of ideas. Those ideas can be separated into a few different categories. We have our zombie movies, our comedy movies making fun of the end of the world, our attack the White House movies, and our post-apocalyptic movies. After Earth is the second of three post-apocalyptic movies, the first being Oblivion in April and the last being Elysium in August. Oblivion was a movie I actually really liked. It was a smart movie with great acting and had a unique twist at the end. In going to see After Earth, I had Oblivion in mind and in order for me to consider it good, I wanted it to be at least as good as Oblivion. It wasn't. In fact, it wasn't even close.

While Oblivion stars Tom Cruise, After Earth stars Will Smith. Usually having Will Smith in your movie is a good sign. The man is a really good actor and is very picky with the movies he decides to star in, which is really respectable. Although with that in mind, his decision to do this is a real head-scratcher. The thing that made Oblivion really cool was the fact that it was a unique idea and was unpredictable. After Earth is the exact opposite. It's a very generic sci-fi movie. The story isn't interesting and is definitely not unique. It is also very predictable. Starring alongside Will Smith is his son Jaden and they play a father-son duo in this movie. It is a thousand years since humanity has lived on Earth and it has since become unlivable and dangerous. Will Smith plays a prestigious general Cypher Raige and at this point he is ready to be a family man. Meanwhile, his son Kitai wants nothing more than to be like his father and while the two are on a journey in space, their craft crash lands on Earth. While Cypher remains in the ship near death, Kitai has to take a long journey to the other side of the ship to grab a beacon or else they are both going to die.

Just from that basic premise, don't you have an idea of exactly how the movie is going to end? Yup, that's the first problem. However, sometimes a predictable movie can still be fun if it is executed well. Good acting, good character progression, intense drama, and fun action can still redeem a movie that is extremely predictable. After Earth fails on all of those levels. Now I love Will Smith and I actually really like Jaden as well. Unfortunately, neither did a good job at all. Now a part of that is how their characters were written. As the legendary general, Will Smith is completely serious and emotionless. I guess he does a good job at acting emotionless, but his character really is just boring. Meanwhile Jaden's character does have plenty of emotion, but as a 14 year old actor, he isn't given very good direction in this and it shows. There are times where he nails it on the head, but other times he gives way too much or not enough. Character progression? In a movie where the huge premise is the father/son relationship, it really needed a strong and beautiful character progression that is really emotional and that just doesn't happen. Jaden and Will's characters go through a little bit of progression, but not that much and I didn't feel the chemistry in the movie. Now I know Will and Jaden know how to be father and son, they have 14 years of experience with that, but in this is just doesn't work that well. Intense drama and fun action? Sometimes. But overall this was a really boring movie. I had a hard time staying awake and that wasn't because I was tired. I was bored. There was some action as Jaden came face to face with the deadly animals and aliens, but that was few and far between. It didn't help that when Jaden did run into the creatures that they looked really fake.

Was there anything good about this movie? Well the music done by James Newton Howard was actually really good. The visual effects in the movie were really impressive and this actually could've been a decent 3D movie, which makes the fact that they didn't make this in 3D puzzling. While I would call it bad, I wouldn't call it as completely unwatchable as something like Battleship. It's just really boring and predictable, with very few redeemable qualities. Honestly I don't blame the Smiths for this one. I place the blame on M Night Shyamalan. He was once a great director with tons of potential, but it seems like he just doesn't know how to put a movie together anymore. I look at The Last Airbender as a comparison to this and it compares really well. That was a movie that had potential as it is a really popular TV show. It had great music and good visuals, but the acting in the movie is just terrible and the story is just poorly put together. The problems in the two movies are pretty much the same and I now think that M Night needs to just stop making movies because he doesn't know how to anymore. My rating on After Earth will definitely be one of the lower ratings I give this year as I will award it a 4 out of 10.

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