"Take a knee." + "Take a knee Cadet!". Oblivion's twin. Not that bad. Liked the geeky bits: suits, displays, spaceships & that sideways wormhole thru a field of meteor debris(boss!)/ Will Smith shoulda died in the end->edgier/The look on W.Smith's eyes when he cries hugging his son was too cute for words (his actual son). Adored the eagle providing body heat for the little dude//frost flakes & ashes falling down: <3
I tried to think of a reason to give this movie more than one star, other than my daughter liked it, but couldn't. This is the kind of story you would tell your kid at bedtime when nothing else comes to mind.
Nature is chaotic. Shyamalan understands this, and in After Earth you see it with how he contemplates death and rebirth, endlessly shaping the world around us. The chaos allows for a film that (despite its weaknesses) is deeply affecting and uniquely raw in visual terms.
I thought this was Night's most moving picture since "Lady." Shows an earnest reverence for the natural world. However, his films have gotten shorter lately, and I feel like there's a lack of emotional verisimilitude due to him undercutting investment in the characters in the first act. Still, I love how raw this one felt—barely color corrected digital cinematography, the minimal James Newton Howard score, etc.
Like most of M. Night's movies, After Earth is filled with flaws—but those flaws don't interest me, they're entirely commonplace. The film's successes, on the other hand, are unique: a distinct visual sense, a regard for nature that lies somewhere between Malick & Herzog, a sensuality utterly lacking in Hollywood cinema, and that emotional conviction that makes Shyamalan the next best thing to Spielberg.
Between Will Smith being stone-faced (not his strong suit) and Jaden doing all the emoting (not his, either), it's easy and neither entirely fair nor unfair to peg this as a misbegotten vanity project. Shyamalan does have strengths. I like his sensitivity towards childhood vulnerability and wondrous regard for nature. But most of this is monotony—even snide riff-trackers may give up, tired of making the same joke.
Sometimes, I feel unsure about what a movie is about. In this case, I don't know if the militar ethics is the back bone of the plot, or if it is questioned. Or if it matters. The movie is not that deep, probably. The father son dynamics works better, in the end, than the lazy conclusion of Ender's Game. Oh, and someone should make a movie out of the 2011 TV series Terra Nova. That would deserve the name After Earth.
Interesting that this started as a simple story of a father and son lost in the woods when the father breaks a leg and the son must figure out a way to get help. Not good enough for Smith paternal who had to turn the film into a sci-fi with the help of Shyamalan and turns it into near turkey time. Not helped by the younger Smith who is just not an actor. Earthbound effects are weak as well. A miss on all levels.