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After Earth - Film Review: Avoid Earth It's Bad

Lars HindsleyBy Lars Hindsley Wed 5 Jun 2013 9:45 PM EST | 2373 Views
One Danger

(DL) –  After Earth is a failed attempt at a father son bonding experience. Kitai Raige (Jaden Smith) and father Cypher (Will Smith) are the only two survivors aboard a crashed space vessel which just so happens to return to Earth 1000 years after its abandoned, for inexplicable reasons. The father son re-connect theme makes up the bulk of the story in a convoluted sci-fi that yearns to be huge visual blockbuster.

If you've seen the posters they sum up the entire film's premise. Danger is real, fear is choice.  Suppressing emotions can be a great message, but inside twenty minutes the theme is exhausted and we are left with a worn out plot, overcoming a challenge coupled with a father son re-connect theme.  Throw in a bit of overcoming guilt and that is it. That's all you got.  Oh, and that Danger is real, fear is a choice message – that is an L.Ron Hubbard teaching. If you don't know what that is, it's Dianetics (Scientolgy).  Through Scientology you are supposed to rid yourself of all your fears.
Will & Jayden Smith
We get the usual set-up early as Will Smith is portrayed as bigger than life character similar to Master Chief in Halo. Not only is Master Chief's manner stolen, even his naming convention is ripped off, Will Smith's as General Cypher Raige is better known as "The Prime Commander".  

The narrative by Kitai (Jayden Smith) is forced and ridiculous, while the concept had hope.  Earthling Rangers fight monsters by remaining invisible to the monsters because if you have no fear, the monsters can't see you.  And why? Because the monsters are blind and literally can only see by smelling fear. This leads to a major continuity issue.  How do the monsters move around without walking off cliffs, or into walls if they can only see by sensing fear?
After Earth - Jayden Smith
You could say the film is one long Dianetics lesson. Scientology to the writers and producers of the film was meant to be showcased subtly through a fantastic movie experience. Perhaps it's why the film is a dud instead.  For example, Cypher stops is son Kitai often in the film asking Kitai to 'take a knee' so that he can be 'in the present' another Scientology lesson.  The scientology messages don't stop there. You are also exposed to 'recall' and 'full perceptions'. When Cypher asks Kitai, "What do you touch, see, feel, smell?" That too is scientology.

The weakness in the film goes on.  Jaden Smith is one. He can't act. Not yet. And his father Will Smith whom I have always enjoyed as an actor is beginning to appear one dimensional in films. His assertive nature in roles is becoming too familiar.  In the same way Hayden Christianson was far too obvious as bad actor and bad choice as a young Darth Vader, Jaden Smith makes you cringe as in the first few moments of After Earth.  As he demands his performance be reconsidered, you get the feeling an eight year old would carry the scene better. 

Through-out the story Kitai exhibits fear where his father insists he gain control over that emotion.  Kitai fails in every challenge on the hostile future earth until the last climactic scene where you feel no arc in his development.  Why he suddenly has no fear is only vaguely referenced by his overcoming guilt in another family members flashback death.

Based on a story idea by Will Smith, After Earth was co-written by M. Night Shyamalan and Gary Whitta. The entire film is a family affair that doesn't stop with the on-screen father son duo.  Caleeb Pinkett and Jada Pinkett Smith assisted Will Smith as co-producers to James Lassiter.
Jayden Smith - After Earth
For sci-fi lovers of any type, After Earth is no good in the theater and cannot be recommended even for a dollar DVD rental.

Starring:  Jayden Smith, Will Smith,
Written by: Alex Kurtzman & Roberto Orci & Damon Lindelof
Directed by: M. Night Shyamalan
Rated: PG-13
Run Time 1 hour 40 minutes 
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