For years Will Smith has been one of the biggest box office draws in Hollywood and has slowly been bringing his son Jaden along for the ride. While Jaden proved his ability he had a supporting cast to take some of the slack with The Karate Kid and Will to take the lead with their previous pairing The Pursuit of Happyness. With their latest film After Earth it brings Will and Jaden together again, but switching roles with Will taking the supporting role and letting Jaden carry the film. The highly anticipated film promoted on the Smith name while never mentioning the fact that M. Night Shyamalan was at the helm still struggled at the box office but does it deliver more than expected?
After Earth follows a General who has returned home from an extended tour of duty and is looking to rebuild his relationship with his son. On his last trip he brings his son along in hopes to begin the healing when the ship is damaged in an asteroid field crash landing the ship on a now unfamiliar Earth that had been abandoned one thousand years prior due to cataclysmic events. After being injured it is now up to his son to risk his life and set out on a journey in this unknown and dangerous world to rescue them. As director M. Night Shyamalan is instantly getting the blame for this films shortcomings, but the focus is misplaced as this is far from being an M. Night film. There is no sign of anything M. Night in this film other than his name on the credits. Clearly he stepped into this film as a director for hire and it shows. There is no fun twist or clever ideas, but instead just a pretty generic and predictable sci-fi film. The story is pretty simple and actually works pretty well to create a potentially fun action adventure film with a great story dealing with the father and sons relationship. Sadly, every time it gets close to showcasing some of the story between them it seems to step away from it. The action adventure side works decent enough but never really pushes the limits to make it all that memorable. The visuals and CGI are great for the most part, but there are a few moments where they just don’t blend as well as they should have. In the past this would be acceptable when creating new creatures, but with the technology today it really is not acceptable at this budget.
The biggest issue with this film isn’t Shyamalan or the film itself, it’s with the performances from the Smiths. Will Smith is one of the most charismatic actors out there and here all that is stripped away with the character creating a stale and boring performance and possibly his worse to date. Jaden just isn’t ready to carry an entire film on his own and here he is forced to just that. He isn’t horrible, but is in that awkward state of growing and just doesn’t have the experience yet. Both of their best performances in the film come at the end, when Will shows some emotion and Jaden stops. This isn’t a horrible film by any means, but instead a predictable run of the mill average films with all the potential to be something great, but nobody pushing the limits to make it memorable. This was a Will Smith project from day one, from story to wanting Shyamalan, so if any of the issues should be put on someone it should be on Smith himself.
In addition to the film this releases features numerous featurettes with some exclusive to the Blu-ray including a never-before-seen version of the film’s opening sequence. Grab your copy of After Earth when it hits shelves on October 8th.