Release Date
May 31, 2013
Director
M. Night Shyamalan
Screenplay
Gary Whitta
M. Night Shyamalan
Distributed By
Columbia Pictures
Budget
$150 million
Action, Adventure, Science Fiction
Rated PG-13 for sci-fi action violence and some disturbing images
100 minutes

After Earth

Out of the gate, critics and general audiences will look down on Will Smith’s latest feature, “After Earth”. For starters, M. Night Shyamalan steps back into the director’s chair since his widely criticized endeavor “The Last Airbender”. Despite what the marketing would have you believe by keeping his name completely off of it, M. Night writes, directs, and produces this film. Also, critics pan this film due to Will Smith acting next to his son, Jaden, committing that there are far better teen actors for this role.

Having seen the film, I disagree with both points. M. Night has definitely gone down hill in his performance lately, but what I caught during the credits is that this concept actually came from Will Smith with a “Story By” credit attached to his name. That means M. Night wasn’t in complete control of this film, with Will and Jada Pinkett Smith also credited as producers. So that means “After Earth” is just as much Smith’s baby as it is M. Night’s. With that, having Jaden in the film makes slightly more sense, as I am sure this concept came from Will in that he pictured himself with his son. Jaden is not the most seasoned actor and misses his mark on more than a few moments in this science fiction action film, but overall, he proves just fine and having him acting off his own father is likely what brings out those moments.

Even down to the marketing this makes some sense. Look at the poster for “After Earth” where Jaden and Will both stare and you could almost mistake the two of them. There are times in the film where Jaden almost looks like his father from further away and I find that element of the film very strong. The father-son connection is what keeps this plot from falling through. The visual effects are dynamic and memorable, but its the growth between a distant father and son that will set it apart from any other post-apocalyptic Earth story.

Had this come from anyone but M. Night and contained anyone but Jaden and the critics would have probably been on board with the semi-original, completely captivating thriller, but with so much to complain about before even sitting in their theater seats, this film was doomed the moment it came out of the can. Despite all that, “After Earth” is a strong family adventure and does reach further than I believed it could.

 

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