Despite the long and arduous advertising campaign for After Earth by Will Smith, I wasn’t too fussed about seeing this film. However, my Mum wanted to see it and seeing as I was down in Nottingham after my holiday I thought I’d accompany her. With a little help from IMDB, here’s the synopsis; A crash landing leaves Kitai Raige and his father Cypher stranded on Earth, a millennium after events forced humanity’s escape. With Cypher injured, Kitai must embark on a perilous journey to signal for help.
That pretty much covers it – so humanity had to leave earth because we had destroyed it, the usual story. Here they used some real footage of riots, flooding and the like to emphasize the ‘disasters’, not to great effect I might add. The planet they do go to is already inhabited and the resident aliens breed these crazy beasts to kill humans, they are blind but can smell the pheromones we produce when scared. Cypher (Will Smith) is the big dog when it comes to a new phenomena called Ghosting, which means you feel no fear and are therefore blind to the beasts and can kill them. When transporting one of these creatures for training purposes, the ship crash lands and they happen to land on old Earth. Of all the planets in all the galaxies of the Universe, it had to be that one.
Here’s the kicker – Kitai (Jaden Smith) has to travel 100km to receive a working distress beacon BUT the animals on Earth have evolved to kill Humans… do we know why, seeing as Humans left the planet?? No we don’t. This giant plot hole made the film totally pointless for me (please stop me if I am wrong).
Will Smith’s character Cypher was a real let down for me. I love Smith, probably everybody does. But he had no character, no personality and not a lot to do other than sit around with his legs broken. Yes the man feels no fear, but he has a wife and son that he loves. Can you feel love if you don’t fear anything – what about fearing for your loved ones life. A bit of a blurred line there. None the less he does a decent job of being the Captain who isn’t sure how to emotionally connect to his son.
Jaden on the other hand was a pleasant surprise. I’m not a fan of celebrities pushing their children into the spotlight at a young age (and it didn’t work for little Willow Smith, the one hit wonder at 12), but Jaden seems old enough to decide for himself and who wouldn’t gladly take a leg up from their incredibly famous father. Although his character Kitai was a little too frightened throughout for me to believe he could ever over come his fear, he was passionate and believable and so I connected with him a little in his struggle to prove something to his father and save them both from certain death.
The only other characters worth mentioning mainly feature in flash backs, Cypher’s wife, Sofie Okonedo and daughter, Zoe Kravitz. Only small supporting roles really which didn’t add much to the story for me. Just as a plot device for the boys to give them a reason to return home I suppose, and show that Cypher does have a caring side in there somewhere. FYI if you have children and you’re thinking ‘this is a 12A maybe I’ll take my son/daughter’ – I was quite shocked at the age rating considering the butchering of one character, the dead bodies hanging off trees and the massacring of a group of monkeys.
The positives of After Earth come in the set design and over all feel of the future they live in. Their home, and space ship had a very oriental feel and nothing appeared to be made of metal! A lot of effort had obviously gone into the design of the ship, and Kitai’s survival suit which changed colour in response to his environment which is pretty cool (except at the end when it turns red again but really should have gone white seeing as it was snowing, but that’s a minor quibble). The animals on Earth are also worth watching After Earth for, although there should have been more action on the planet and less emotional talks between Cypher and Kitai or unnecessary flash backs, the evolved creatures that do appear are quite interesting. Plus there are some great POV shots during some sequences.
You’re not missing anything spectacular if you miss After Earth at the cinema, but it’s probably worth a watch if you are bored and have a pre-paid cinema card at hand. Otherwise just wait until it is released on DVD or give it a miss entirely. Disappointing.