Tagline: Danger Is Real. Fear Is A Choice.
Earth‘s future never seems to pan out well in the movies. The latest example is M. Night Shyamalan’s After Earth, which is set a thousand years after events forced humanity’s escape to a place called Nova Prime. Shyamalan, who hasn’t made a movie since 2010s The Last Airbender, directs not one Smith, but two. Will Smith plays General Cypher Raige, who has come back from an extended tour of duty to his estranged family. The General finally feels ready to be a father to his 13-year-old son, Kitai, who is played by Smith’s actual son, Jaden. But – and of course you surely knew there was a ‘but’ coming – when an asteroid storm damages the Smiths’, or rather Cypher’s, craft, father and son crash-land on the now unfamiliar and dangerous Earth. With Cypher not exactly in the best of health, Kitai sets off to recover their rescue beacon. And wouldn’t you know it: Kitai has waited his entire life to be a soldier just like his dad. Swap out ‘soldier’ for ‘actor’ and it’s almost like art mirroring reality.
But the reality of the reviews isn’t going to make for pretty reading for Team Smith (nor Shyamalan for that matter). “Basically, this is Smith and his real-life son Jaden (both affecting ridiculous mid-Atlantic accents) talking the audience to death for something like 90 minutes before the closing credits,” points out the New York Post. “Jaden is fine at running, jumping, fearful trembling, and affecting steely resolution. He doesn’t yet have his father’s charisma; perhaps to help him out, dad opted not to bring that charisma to the set,” is Variety‘s zinger. But the Chicago Tribune is more positive, claiming that “After Earth won’t change your world, but it’s attractive.” That’s hardly a ringing endorsement, but After Earth may need all the help it can get when it comes to putting favorable quotes on the poster.