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After Earth

2013-06-21 12:04
 
After Earth
What it's about:

A millennium after humanity was forced to leave an inhospitable Earth, a young military cadet, Kitai (Jaden Smith), and his estranged father, Cypher (Will Smith), find themselves stranded on the planet after their spaceship is brought down by an asteroid storm. With Cypher badly injured, it's up to Kitai to traverse one hundred kilometres of poisonous air, rapidly shifting temperatures and a host of deadly predators to send out a beacon and secure their rescue.

What we thought:

There's something kind of hilarious about After Earth being released in this country the same week as Star Trek Into Darkness. Not just because it's going to be fun watching Star Trek kicking M. Night Shyamalan's latest disaster all over town but because After Earth is actually similar to what Star Trek was quickly on its way to becoming before JJ Abrams came along and gave Gene Roddenbery's tired franchise the adrenalin shot it so desperately needed.

Star Trek at its worst, particularly in its later incarnations, had dull characters, stodgy dialogue, boring plotlines and wooden acting so it's interesting to see that just as JJ Abrams has done everything in his lense-flair-driven powers to return Star Trek to its Shatner-led glory days - but with a new, accessible and hyper-active sheen.

Shyamalan has effectively made something that looks like a long-buried episode of Star Trek: Voyager but with worse writing and direction.

After Earth may not be quite as laughably bad as Shyamalan's worst film, The Lady in the Water, but that only really makes it all the worse. At least his stupid attempt at a modern day fairytale, replete with its water nymphs, evil film critics and Shyamalan himself as the saviour of all mankind, was unintentionally funny and interesting in a car-wreck kind of way. After Earth is just horribly dull, very poorly made and utterly lacking in any sense of character, vitality and humour.

Much has been made of young Jaden Smith's admittedly rubbish performance but it's hardly fair to blame the poor kid. Aside from the bullishness of picking on an actor who has only barely hit puberty, it's pretty clear that Shyamalan's staggeringly bad direction is entirely to blame for just about everything that's terrible about After Earth.

Everything else, of course, is the fault of the equally staggeringly bad screenplay that he co-wrote with Gary Whitta. Whitta's only previous screenwriting credit, incidentally, was the silly but perfectly decent Book of Eli, which is a far better alternative to After Earth if you're looking for something in the post-apocalypse sub-genre.
 
It's just astonishing how far Shyamalan has fallen since the days of The Sixth Sense and Unbreakable as this former "Next Steven Spielberg" (a title now held, fittingly enough, by one JJ Abrams) has systematically unlearned everything that was good about those films, while only amplifying the more questionable stuff like a lack of a sense of humour and sometimes cruddy dialogue.

Remember the suspense and visual flair of The Sixth Sense and the intelligence and humanity of Unbreakable? Well, you may, but M – if that is indeed his real name – sure as hell doesn't.

Visually, After Earth looks an awful lot like Battlefield Earth, especially as he lifts that film's horrible close-up-but-slightly-skewed camera work wholesale (seriously, did no one mention to the man just how reviled that Scientology-inspired dud remains to this day?). Oh, and the CGI work looks pre-Toy Story to boot!  

In addition, Shyamalan's storytelling has never been weaker. The basic plot is pretty weak but everything from the pacing to the characterization is simply atrocious and, would you know it, the film makes no sense whatsoever. Pssssst, M, over here: If the Earth has been made entirely uninhabitable to humans then it really should look a bit more Mad Max and significantly less The Jungle Book on steroids. And it really shouldn't have freakin' baboons – ya know, humanity's closest relative – running around! Oh, right, the animals evolved to hunt humans by... growing slightly larger or something? Yeah, that explains it...

Worst of all by far though, is what Shyamalan does to Will Smith. He may not exactly be entirely free of blame as he did produce the film and wrote the original story on which the screenplay was based, but Smith has always been an intensely charismatic screen presence with a particular knack for comedy and a sure hand with drama.

Not in After Earth, though. Will Smith, for the first time in his admittedly spotty career, is dead weight on screen with all the personality of a putrefying turnip. Apparently resurrecting Bruce Willis' career with The Sixth Sense came with a price - but who could ever have expected it to be this great?
 
Sinking to previously unknown depths, M Night Shyamalan has outdone himself with one of the dullest, stupidest and most pointless science fiction films to come along in years.

Read more on:    jaden smith  |  will smith  |  movies  |  celebrities
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(Comments may be edited or deleted at the Channel24 editors’ discretion)
Sunny Randle 6/7/2013 9:30 AM
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Great movie, loved the action...not sure what the review was about.
Cris Robertson 6/7/2013 10:14 AM
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After reading this, the only thing I don't want to do is read another review by Ilan Preskovsky. Lose the hyper-subjectivity. Come on man, don't write like you work for HEAT magazine.
Martin S 6/7/2013 10:37 AM
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Wow, I know it’s not everyone’s cup of tea but I thought Lady was a brilliant movie, but after reading this review it became apparent that LITW is probably bit too "highly evolved" for the likes of you. I might not enjoy this movie, but I'm with the other reviewers on this one - can't be half as bad as this spectacularly subjective review. Taking the lead from your standards of objectivity here is my rating…..
Dean 6/7/2013 11:20 AM
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You should give yourself no stars for this review.
Laven Pillay 6/7/2013 12:52 PM
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(please ignore star rating - this is a comment only) Okay, my last comment appears to no have been approved, perhaps because it was too long. So lets just say : This sounds like a non-critical review as done by someone who does not fully understand the intricacies of the disciplines whereof he speaks. From the sounds of the review and the reviewers choice of words I going to guess : 1. The reviewer is a HUGE fan of JJ Abrahams work - which clouds his critical estimation of others' works. 2. That, based on this review, the movie might actually have some decent SF (speculative fiction) content in it - even if the movie as a whole is a bit of a failure.
John W. 6/7/2013 1:02 PM
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It's a good movie i guess someone didn't get money from Will so they are just be malcious
evert 6/7/2013 2:14 PM
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I think the reviewer is just angry cos he didn't get to review the new star trek movie...
James 6/7/2013 9:14 PM
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Only Will Smith movie I enjoyed was 'Pursuit of Happiness'. Rest is simply over-acting, trying to be 'Hollywood'. Kinda stuff you cringe at watching 15 years later and thinking 'How did I think this was good?'. Will give this a skip and spend money on Star Trek and Man of Steel instead.
Jennifer 6/8/2013 2:02 AM
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This movie made 0 sense. So the Ursa were genetically engineered, that means they made them blind on purpose (hello stupid) and they can smell fear pheromones but they wouldn't be able to smell our sweat or anything? That makes no sense at all. Why the hell was the Ursa on that ship to begin with? And over 1000 years in the future when there is obviously all this technology and we're fighting with this sword type thing? Why did Will Smith's character not bleed to death? And how do the plants and animal survive the planet freezing over every night (not to mention how it would freeze every night then melt every morning)? The bird had a big nest in the trees but saved the kid (which it's an animal yeah that's so not going to happen) but died from exposure, it had a nest made of twigs but that would have saved it somehow?
Gav 6/8/2013 11:17 PM
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The mere fact that the reviewer praises the works of JJ Abrams, whose movies are all about style and no substance at all, leads me to believe that Preskovsky has no idea what FILM is all about. Horrible review.
Gav 6/8/2013 11:31 PM
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The mere fact that the reviewer praises the works of JJ Abrams, whose movies are all about style and no substance at all, leads me to believe that Preskovsky has no idea what FILM is all about. Horrible review.
Ilan Preskovsky 6/9/2013 12:06 AM
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I can't believe I am defending my opinion on this stinky movie but I do want to be clear about a couple of things. First, I am not a HUGE fan of Abrams but I do think his take on Star Trek has been terrific as it mixes the best stuff about classic Trek with a real sense of verve and action-packed fun. And Super 8 was just a great love letter to 80s genre cinema. Now, are his films that substantial? Well, no but they're way more heartfelt and intelligent than Gav suggests. As for After Earth, it really doesn't have any substance at all and I didn't talk about it as a piece of speculative fiction because there was nothing speculative about it. Speculative fiction is one of my favourite genres so believe me when I say that Shyamalan has absolutely nothing to say about anything in After Earth. Watch the film and then we can talk if I'm being too harsh.
Barry 6/10/2013 5:44 AM
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My advice to anyone considering watching this movie is to ignore the reviews. I was certainly not a Jayden Smith fan especially after the extremely irritating Karate Kid remake but despite numerous poorly delivered lines in After Earth, he pulled it off. He made the viewer emotionally invest in his character which is the most important thing. He redeemed himself in my eyes and I feel ashamed for believing the bad reviews prior to watching the film The movie is only boring if you are expecting not to have to think or use your imagination. It is not an orgy of action so if is what you are after, you would be better served sticking to something like the Avengers. The film "makes no sense whatsoever" only if you are used to being spoon fed every single plot point. If you are still able to use your brain in any way, the plot is as solid as anything else. Personally, I enjoy imagining how things work in the universe that has been presented to me without having every detail spelled out for me. The real story in After Earth is about a family dealing with loss and how it can heal itself while facing extreme adversity. Added to this is a dose of M. Night mystique similar to that in the superb Lady in the Water (which I also thought was unfairly reviewed). I feel that it is not quite up to the par of Lady in the Water but it gets close at times. One scene about sacrifice struck a certain emotional chord with me and I have only had similar feelings from other M. Night films. Give this film a chance, for many of you it will appear as these fickle reviewers say it will but for some of you, it will be one of the best films of the year.
Leanne Zwiegers 6/10/2013 8:55 AM
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Have to be honest...I fell asleep in the movie! The most simple cast ever....expected so much more but would have settled for just a lil more. Very dissappointing
Ilan Preskovsky 6/10/2013 12:39 PM
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Here's the thing Barry, I completely disagree with every single point you just made but I totally respect your very well written defense of the movie. I don't know where people get the idea that reviewers and critics see our opinions as Law. Reviews are good for turning people on to films they may have missed or for helping people decide about something they're on the fence about but they're always just one person's opinion. If you really want to see a film then definitely see it and make up your own mind. And then, if you want, check out the reviews to get other, hopefully informed, takes on a film that you may or may not agree with - that's how I tend to use reviews myself. I hope I explained my reasons for disliking the film adequately and that the review itself is an enjoyable enough read but people please stop using "subjective" as some sort of insult - it's a review, of course it's subjective!
Ameera 6/11/2013 8:18 AM
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What a rubbish review.This was a great movie. I have not wacthed anything as good as this in a very long time.
Jay 6/13/2013 3:04 PM
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The movie sucked, I disagree with the reviewer that it was all the director's fault, lots of closeups of Jayden with that scared/confused expression on his face and he's just not at that level to be able to carry a feature length movie. Everything irrated me about his performance, right from his opening dialogue, when I was standing at the cinema I had to choose between Star Trek and After Earth, I thought Star Trek would be totally predictable, so I gave After Earth a chance (unfortunately)
Renee 6/18/2013 12:59 PM
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Atrocious, boring, overblown, self-important mess. Why doesn't Will Smith just come out as a Scientologist already?
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