Thursday, February 27, 2014

After Earth

Released in 2013, Directed by M Night Shymalan
Starring Jayden Smith, Will Smith

In the starring lineup of IMDB's casting, there's usually three actors listed. David Denman is listed as a starring lead, but he only appears for about 90 seconds. Maybe it's because he has the most interesting bit in the whole film. The rest is just Smith SR and Smith JR.

In a nutshell, this is a thousand years after the apocalypse that forced humans to leave Earth and survive in space. Soldiers become known as Rangers and Cypher Raige (Smith SR) is a hero and status symbol as one who feels no fear, rendering him invisible, a 'ghost', to monsters who can not see or hear, but can only sense fear. Kitai (Smith Jr) idolizes his father and gets top academic scores in the Ranger academy, but lacks the physical prowess to be advanced as a Ranger. His father takes him under his wing on a space mission, perhaps to sharpen his skills and help him realize his potential as Cypher's successor. Sounds good so far, but when the ship crash lands on Earth, on which they're told "everything here has evolved to kill humans", the rest of the movie's potential lies burning with the wreckage.

Father and son are the only survivors, and Cypher's legs are broken. Kitai is given a mission to find the tail and retrieve the distress beacon, since the ones in the cockpit were damaged in the crash. There's enough computer power for Cypher (I keep wanting to call him Dad) to stay in contact with his son and give one exposition after another so the viewer isn't completely lost. The only problem is, I'm probably making this movie sound much better than it is. In fact it's as predictable as anything Hollywood pumps out these days and it's basically I Am Legend all over again, with a lone Smith wandering around an abandoned Earth and pissing off everyone in the audience with his complete lack of wit or charisma.

Truth is I like M Night as a director, I thought the Last Airbender was great, and I was looking forward to seeing Jayden Smith play a lead role and see if he might be nearly as cool as his father, but twenty minutes into the movie you just want to smack the shit out of him. His father is the most respected Ranger on the force and Jayden, sorry, Kitai, constantly ignores his orders and nearly gets himself killed about every ten minutes. There's not an ounce of character development as he transgresses from stubborn apathetic pussy-wimp teenager to stubborn apathetic fearless, er, teenager. He relies completely on his hi-tech backpack and his father's advice, and you just wish he would improvise one damn thing for himself. After about 70 minutes, you still just want to smack the shit out of him because he still wont stop lying and disobeying the one guy trying to keep him alive.

Somehow, by the magic of Hollywood, the stubborn twat with the personality of a pizza box manages to evade a horde of baboons, giant birds, tigers, leeches, and I'm sorry am I spoiling it? Give me a break. It's a Hollywood movie from 2013. What would you expect besides a happy ending? This is a perfect example of why I prefer gritty family-unfriendly movies from before I was born. When Hollywood still had two big balls between W and D.

I'm not sure what amazes me more, the fact that M Night Shymalan could spend $130 million dollars on a barely 90 minute movie with barely two actors and one ship, or that one of the funniest and coolest actors of the 1990s could raise such an insufferable spoiled brat that he spends the whole movie coming across as nothing more than an insufferable spoiled brat. There's a reason this lost $70 million at the box office.

Still, if you're a big Will Smith fan, and he hasn't lost you in the last few years with crap like I am Legend, then you'll prob put this in your collection, on Blue Ray of course, so you can see where most of that $130 million went: into big fancy cameras and lots of compensating CGI.

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