Wednesday, 6 November 2013

After Earth

What the hell happened to M. Night Shyamalan? It's hard to believe this now, but he directed some fantastic films. Two of his films, The Sixth Sense and Unbreakable, are absolutely wonderful pieces of film making, and they seemed like a pretty solid indication that he was the next big thing. Signs was great too, but then came The Village, a film that pretty much ruined itself in the last 30 minutes. Then came Lady in the Water, which despite a brilliant performance by Bryce Dallas Howard, was pretty damn awful. Then came The Happening, a film where nothing really happens in it! Then finally came The Last Airbender, a film so fucking awful that I simply wanted it all to end. Now he brings us After Earth, a film that cements the fact that M. Night Shyamalan shouldn't be allowed to make any form of entertainment ever again.

Far into the future, Earth is abandoned after a massive global environmental shift. After settling on a distant planet called Nova Prime, humans have left Earth to its harsh climate and newly evolving species. One thousand years later, father and son Cypher and Kitai Raige crash land on the now quarantined Earth, a planet that is now inhabited by deadly creatures, beasts that have evolved alongside Earth's new deadly climate and terrain. With his father badly injured, Kitai must leave the safety of their crashed ship to send out a distress signal. Now, that's a good set up, right? It sounds pretty decent, and the idea that Earth now technically belongs to a different species is fascinating and a little creepy. But does it miss the mark? Well, yes, by quite a lot.

The worst thing is the cast. Sorry, I do love Will Smith (The Fresh Price of Bel Air, anyone?), and have found many of his past performances to be fantastic, but it's like he's not even trying any more What's worse is that they cast his son, his actual son Jaden Smith, in the film. I'm not going to come down too heavy on him as he's only 15 after all, but simply put, he shouldn’t be an actor. He should stick to music and leave acting to someone else. Seriously. When a film has a cast that is more wooden and lifeless than the CGI effects around them, you know you're in for a terrible experience...

But in saying that, I guess that's where the film entertains. The depiction of an Earth ravaged, destroyed and born anew is actually slightly impressive. The idea that humans are no longer the dominant species is a pretty terrifying prospect, and while the many CGI creations that hunt Kitai are nicely designed, there's no life or threat from them, or even fun to many of the chase sequences. Due to the excess use of CGI, the film starts to look a little like Avatar in many respects. But remember how Avatar had a wonderfully constructed world, a world that was almost believable in its approach and design, and inhabited by creatures that moved, hunted and lived similar as to what we know on this planet? Well, After Earth has none of that. Or at least while it does attempt it, the world ends up feeling flat, and well, frankly a failure at imitating an kind of life.

Don’t forget that M. Night was once a competent filmmaker. However, I suspect he is unable to take criticism and through this stupid shell that he has created around him comes the inability to see what's wrong with his failures. Whereas directors like Steven Spielberg made his mistakes in the form of Hook and was able to step back from the brink, M. Night must not have that kind of creative filter and without it he brings you yet another overblown, lazy, CGI ridden, heartless, boring, forgetful time-waster. Add to that dashes of supposed Scientology undertones and you've got yourself the latest stinker of the year. Avoid.

After Earth crash lands on Earth with no hope for survival with a 2/10

Denis Murphy

After Earth at CeX

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