When it's over, Director M. Night Shyamalan failed to convince. After a crash on apocalyptic Earth, Kitai (Jaden Smith) must venture on a perilous journey to signal for help in order to save his father, General Cypher Raige (Will Smith). There were three things that plagued this film – Jaden Smith, the creature, and Earth. In essence, this was a sci-fi coming-of-age story, but it did not feel like one. Jaden Smith was a weak carrier for the film. His performance was not convincing nor believable, and frankly, I really did not care whether he lived or died. With all the CGI available, why would a big budgeted film have a creature that resembled something out of a Starship Troopers film? The Ursas were large, blind predatory creatures that hunted by sensing its victim's fear. The only way to defeat them was for a person to “ghost,” to disconnect their fear. The creatures lacked originality or intelligence and simply existed to be a challenge for Kitai. I thought the Ursas were pivotal to the story and should have been carefully developed and interwoven into the entire story. Finally, Earth seemed to look the same, and the animals have not evolved. This was disappointing, because I did not feel I was transported 1000 years into the future. Will Smith pushed aside the humor and offered up some good scenes, mostly confined to his chair after his ship crashes. There were some interesting elements in the film, such as the concept of thermal shifts, where temperature varied in different pockets in the terrain; and the idea of “ghosting.” The mother condor proved to be the bravest character, and the only emotional link I had with the entire film. Bottom line, it came down to believability, and After Earth did not make me believe.
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