A flawed effort; but can we admit this was ahead of the curve in promoting identity politics? With its majorly black cast presented as noble, flawed but heroic, pro-environmental themes & rejection of guns in favour of historical weaponry, this predates the same ideologies that saw Marvel's Black Panther elevated to later acclaim. Jaden is a weak link & can't carry the material, but the themes are hopeful & sincere.
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.