“After Earth” had all the elements of being this summer’s visually epic film. It was set in the future, promised visual wonder, and took place partly away from earth. Instead, it left audiences wanting more without really giving them much.
I really wanted to like this film; I really did. But it seems director M. Night Shyamalan just can’t catch a break. I appreciate the director trying to get away from the suspense-thriller genre that has defined his career thus far. But, “After Earth” just isn’t the film that will to do that.
This science fiction film takes place on Earth 1,000 years after humanity was forced to abandon the planet. Cypher (Will Smith, who is credited for the film’s story), a legendary general, and son Kitai (Smith’s real-life son, Jaden) are the only two survivors of a crash landing on the blue rock while on their way to a training exercise.
My biggest annoyance with the film is that it did too much telling and not enough showing. For example, minutes into the film we are told that humanity flees Earth, and not too long after settling on their new home planet are attacked by some enemy that unleashes a predator created to hunt humans.
There is very little shown of the great war that took place fighting this new predator. We are never given any explanation of where this enemy came from or who they are. All we know is there’s an enemy that humanity is now forced to deal with.
Kitai, wanting to follow in his father’s footsteps, is introduced training to become a Ranger. He is shown to be superior to his father at the same age; but for no given reason, Kitai is not promoted to the rank of Ranger.
On Earth, there is more hype about the planet’s dangers than what is actually shown. Cypher goes into a very well-written monologue — definitely the film’s highlight — of the fears Kitai will face, but there’s very little out-of-the-ordinary danger that he faces.
In the end, “After Earth” is nothing more than hype. It’s a poorly executed film that should have fleshed out both its characters and their back stories. As it is, the film has potential, but unless there is an extended cut released in hopes of redeeming the original, it looks like it will be nothing more than another critically disappointing film from a once-promising director.