If you are looking for an epic sci-fi pic, you will not find it in “After Earth.” This movie is all about emotion, either having too much or too little, depending on the character. It is also about interrupting the flow of the movie with a series of forced moments in the first half of the movie and then again interrupting with forced resolutions of the earlier moments. It’s clumsy and awkward. How is it that M. Knight Shyamalan movies are able to maintain this rate of decline? In this case, I would say that it was due to working with Will Smith to write a vehicle for his son, Jaden. A slow-moving, damaged vehicle.
Earth has been rendered uninhabitable by pollution and climate change, forcing an evacuation and the colonization of a new world. This new world is the home of the Ursa, who do not take kindly to being invaded. The Ursa are blind, but can smell fear, or at least the pheromones released by that emotion. Will Smith, a Ranger, discovered that when one suppresses his fear, he can walk among the Ursa, killing them freely. His son, played by his son, is athletic and intelligent, but has trouble suppressing his emotion, which keeps him from graduating to become a Ranger. The father returns from being a hero and makes an attempt to reconnect with his son by taking him on a trip. Their ship is inexplicably transporting one of the fear sensing Ursa, which is released when their ship crashes on Earth. Dad is injured in the crash, leaving the son to trek across the dangerous terrain to retrieve a distress beacon from a different part of the wreckage. All of that is well and good, except the entire time Jaden Smith is overacting his inability to control his emotions and Will Smith is overacting his suppression of his emotion. It feels wooden and after-school special all at once. It’s hard to tell if they even meant this movie to be good.
‘After Earth’ can be safely skipped over this summer. There are way too many other entertaining movies to go see and way too much fun in the sun to be had. If you absolutely feel you need to see this, wait two months and pick it up at RedBox.
Ticket price: $9.00 Matinee (courtesy of MoviePass)
Trailers: Ender’s Game, World War Z, Despicable Me 2, Pacific Rim, Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters, White House Down, Grown Ups 2