After Earth the movie wasn't all that bad, but it was flawed. A big part of the limitations of the movie were how it presented many aspects of the plot from the origins of what happened to mankind and weapons technology, to the current conflict with the alien monsters, the Ursa. The movie either left out a lot of back story and exposition or gave so little of it that it made it hard to get yourself placed in this science fiction settings. The United Ranger Corps Survival Manual does a lot to rectify this.
This book is written like a field manual for Ranger cadets to familiarize themselves with their history, tools, enemies and more. It is set it the world of After Earth with no productions notes, interviews with the director and cast, or any other "making of" details other than conceptual drawings that help fill out the book's content. It's written to be as realistic as possible within the After Earth universe. This is what you get:
Complete history of mankind from a few decades from now to about a thousands years A.E. (After Earth exodus) - It tells a pretty bleak tale on the fate of Earth and the vast majority of its inhabitants. So very few survived to leave the planet according to the history in this book. It gives you a pretty bleak look at what happened and how we survived.
History of the Rangers - Tells of the corps humble beginnings up to the point where they are currently fighting with the Ursa. This includes the development of the "Ghosting" technique that renders a ranger invisible to the Ursa.
Ships and vehicles - This is really a minor entry that gives you some general information on the ships, but not enough to get into the fascinating designs you see in the film.
Weapons - The big bad weapon of the movie is the Cutlass, and where the movie tells you practically nothing about it this book gives you details in spades. Did you know there are several different model grades of the cutlass, each with varying capabilities and stats? Do you know how all those blades form from it? You find out here, and it's a pretty cool explanation. There is also explanation on various guns as well. Even though they weren't really shown in action in the movie the details given are very cool.
Survival technology - The life suit, Kitai's survival outfit, gets a lot of time in the book and gives you an idea just how useful this outfit is. You also get detailed explanations for other items like the wrist communicator, med and survival kits, communications and scanning. It's not as much details for the other items, but there is enough to satisfy me.
I read this book before seeing the movie, and it made a world of difference. I can tell the movie glossed over a lot of very interesting details, and I'm glad I was already privy to them. It made the movie flow much better for me, and allowed me to enjoy it and be immersed in the setting without getting frustrated over the tiny nuggets of background info the movie provided. For this reason alone I strongly recommend this book to sci-fi fans. It's sad that you need a supplement to really get into a movie, but at the same time the supplement really is impressive.