Directed by: M. Night Shyamalan
I had low expectations going into After Earth, what is essentially Will Smith’s attempt at launching his teenage son, Jaden Smith as a big movie star for the coming years. Critics have been quite cruel, giving the film an 11% Rotten Tomatoes rating on weekend of release, and also because it was my second choice of film to watch, when what I really wanted to see didn’t work out for various reasons. Whether it was my barely-existing expectations of it, or the actual merits of the film, I found myself somewhat enjoying it.
I literally had no idea the director was M. Night Shyamalan, until about a week before release, when it was mentioned on Twitter. I had just assumed it was some nobody the studio picked, and Will Smith was really running the show. Maybe it should have been that way though, as it may have ended up being a better film. One of After Earth‘s downfalls is it feels like Shyamalan isn’t doing the kind of film he wants to be doing, and clearly after a few failures nobody in Hollywood is letting him. I do believe there’s still one or two good films left in him, if only he’d figure them out and someone would give him a chance.
One reasons I think people don’t like the film much is probably because its promoted as a Will Smith and his son film, whereas its actually all about Jaden Smith, and his father, who happens to be a big movie star, plays the supporting role of the father. Will Smith is usually quite a big box office draw, but the less you have of him a film, less people will come out to watch it. The stern father-figure isn’t a role that suits him either, he’s too well known in other roles to be believable. The film hasn’t sold me on Jaden, therefore failing to serve its only true purpose. He’s not a bad actor, but he has a lot to learn, and though in places he reminded me of his father a fair bit, he’s not nearly as watchable.
The film looks amazing, I certainly enjoyed the visual aspect of it. The production design is pretty decent, and shows evidence of some imagination at work. It doesn’t feel like you’re watching the same thing you’ve seen in multiple other sci-fi movies. The music, by James Howard Newton, is fairly good. I don’t see myself listening to it for years to come, but it suits the film. There could have been more to the story, because as a concept it’s not that bad, but I guess there’s only so much that can happen with only one main character.
Maybe I didn’t enjoy After Earth, rather I just didn’t hate it. It has a few likeable qualities, a less likeable lead, and a director who could seem a little more bothered, but overall it was worth a watch once. Maybe rent it rather than buy. I don’t have any intention of sitting through it again, there will always be something much better to do/watch. What the film has done is made me wary of any project both father and son Smith are involved in, in the future.
After Earth is out now.