After Earth Best Left For Home Cinema Market

Jaden Smith stars in Columbia Pictures' "After Earth," also starring Will Smith.

Jaden Smith stars in Columbia Pictures’ “After Earth,” also starring Will Smith.

I had high hopes for After Earth. The film, starring Will Smith and his son Jaden, opened this week in Ireland. I’d watched trailers and featurettes and I was expecting it to be a solid science fiction adventure.

It sort of is, but it also falls short. I’m not 100% sure why, but I suspect a lot of it is down to the timing and pace. There’s something about the film’s pacing and timing that isn’t quite right. It’s within spitting distance of being a kick ass action sci-fi flick, but for some stupid reason it gets bogged down in.

The plot is pretty simple. Humans destroy the earth and are forced to move to another planet. Fast forward a couple of thousand years and we’re all living on another planet, but the aliens are out to get us. (Why the plot requires an alien race determined to destroy humans is beyond me, but ok .. )

Will Smith plays General Cypher Raige, who is not only a high ranking military officer, but also the man who has managed to find a way to defeat the aliens. (Again, was this really necessary?)

His son Kitai (Jaden Smith) is training to be a Ranger, but hasn’t been doing too well with the physical part of his training.

Father and son embark on a trip surrounded by other Rangers. Of course there’s a problem, their ship crash lands on earth and everyone dies except for the Smith boys.

They’re both trapped on a planet where every living creature has evolved to kill humans, or so we’re told. Cypher (Will Smith) is badly injured so he sends his son a couple of hundred kilometres across the planet to retrieve a working beacon so that they can signal their home planet and escape.

Sounds like it’ll be fun, doesn’t it?

Well the visual effects are impressive and there’s some tense moments, but M. Night Shyamalan seems to have been incapable of letting it be. No, he had to try and layer a load of irrelevant emotional baggage on the characters and their story. The end result being that the film seems to lose its identity. It’s not quite clever enough to be “artsy” and it’s not action packed enough to really succeed as a science fiction film. Sure, with a bit of cutting you might be able to save it, or am I being too optimistic?

Maybe I’m being a bit hard on the film, but I found myself losing interest about half way through and was almost tempted to get up and leave the cinema. (I’ve only ever done that once before)

So maybe this is one of those films that’s best left until it’s available for the home cinema market, but if you’re bored and have a couple of hours of your life to donate, then go see it!

Will Smith, left, and Sophie Okonedo star in Columbia Pictures' "After Earth," also starring Jaden Smith.

Will Smith, left, and Sophie Okonedo star in Columbia Pictures’ “After Earth,” also starring Jaden Smith.



2.5 / 5 stars     

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