M. Night Shyamalan hasn’t had the best track record when it comes to directing movies. The last movie he directed was “The Last Airbender” in 2010 and, while the movie already had a built-in audience and crazy high budget, under Shyamalan’s direction, it flopped. I really think the last Shyamalan movie I enjoyed was “Signs,” and that was in 2002.
For these reasons, I can see why it’d be important that the new Shyamalan directed film “After Earth” be successful. And while I personally enjoyed the film, I don’t think it’s going to give Shyamalan the comeback he has desperately been searching for.
The movie starts out on a planet far from Earth, Nova Prime, where humankind is forced to relocate after cataclysmic events leave the planet uninhabitable. Once they leave the planet, however, they encounter creatures called Ursa that are bred to kill humans. And although they’re blind, they can track humans by the pheromone released when they’re afraid, making them nearly impossible to fend off.
A small group of people, however, have honed a skill called “ghosting” which allows them to let go of all fear and essentially sneak up on the Ursa undetected in order to take them out. General Cypher Raige (Will Smith) is a legendary ghoster whose son, Kitai Raige (Jaden Smith) wants nothing more than his father’s approval.
This is going to prove hard to do when he fails out of ranger academy, where he would have learned to fight against the Ursa. To give Kitai an opportunity to prove his worth, Cypher brings him along on one of his missions. After receiving heavy damage to their ship when they fly through a storm of debris, they’re forced to land on the quarantined planet of Earth that has now been vacant for over a thousand years.
After crash landing, Cypher and Kitai are all that remain of the crew and the only chance they have of being rescued lies within a distress beacon in the tail section of the spaceship that separated from the cockpit during entry. To get there, Kitai needs to traverse the harsh neglected wilderness alone while Cypher stays with the ship and directs his every move.
Ultimately, the movie is about a young boy conquering his fears and a father learning how to accept his son and see him as an equal.
While Gary Whitta and M. Night Shyamalan wrote the script, the story was originally written by Will Smith. How nice, writing a story for your son to act in. This movie seems to be an obvious attempt for Will Smith to jumpstart Jaden Smith’s lackluster movie career. This speaks volumes about the amount of nepotism in Hollywood.
Will Smith managed to get his career started on his own, and is now helping Jaden Smith establish himself in Hollywood, which is mirrored in the plot of the movie as Cypher works to help Kitai prove his worth. I feel as if the entire film is a metaphor for what Will and Jaden’s home life is like. It’s hard not to watch this movie and think that the way Gen. Cypher Raige treats his son is the way that Will treats Jaden. Which is depressing.
Personally, I liked the film. It’s probably a movie I’d buy and watch again. Yes, the story was somewhat predictable, and while it was hard to see Will wasted on the part he had, I felt it was original enough of a storyline to be enjoyable.
I went into the movie with little to no expectations at all. The story was an obvious metaphor for the relationship between Will and his son, and the idea that Jaden was going to overshadow his father in this movie didn’t excite me in the slightest. With all of this, coupled with the flaky direction by Shyamalan, I wasn’t expecting a lot. However, I was pleasantly surprised with the movie overall and despite its 12 percent rating on RottenTomatoes.com I would give this movie a 3/5.