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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Fear is the key, 1 Aug. 2014
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This review is from: After Earth [DVD] [2013] (DVD)
A movie from director M. Night Shyamalan. Which is his first major release to be a film of a script that he hasn't written himself.

It is a science fiction film, and it stars Will Smith and his son Jaden. Who play father and son in the film.

After Earth starts with a spaceship crash. Shows Jaden's character in the aftermath. Then gives us a quick expository narration. Humanity left Earth after making a mess of the place. An elite international military group called the Ranger corps organised that. But we came under attack from strange beasts on our new homeworld. Beasts who can detect pheromones. So don't get scared and they won't see you.

A fact discovered by Ranger Cypher Raige [Will Smith]. His son Kitai [Jaden Smith] wants desperately to follow in his father's footsteps. But doesn't get accepted to the Rangers. An attempt at a father son bonding trip leads them to where we were at the start. This is an annoyingly overused device on tv shows, so it's a pain to see it in a movie as well.

Where the ship crashed is Earth. One thousand years after we left it. And where everything has evolved to kill humans. Cypher is wounded so can't leave the wrecked ship. Kitai has to make a long journey to find a rescue beacon. He has to travel through difficult and dangerous terrain and face hostile creatures to get to it. Can he face his fears, and finally make his old man proud?

Will you care if he does?

There are some decent ideas in here. All about facing up to fear. And it's the kind of story about growing up and becoming responsible and accepting responsibility that certain science fiction writers of days of yore might have done. But those writers were good at creating strong characters, and unfortunately this is where After Earth rather falls down.

Cypher has conquered fear. But seems to have gotten rid of every other feeling as well in the process. And it's ironic that Kitai is adjuged to not be ready, since Jaden Smith doesn't seem to be either. His reading of the opening narration isn't great, then after he gets stuck with a thankless role of a teenager desperate to live up to his father's reputation, and be occasionally broody as well. This isn't really something that showcases anything acting wise from him. Whilst Will Smith did fund the project via his production company and come up with the story as well, thus he probably has the right to cast who he likes, perhaps it might have worked better if he'd cast a non relative via an audition process.

Not that Cypher is that great a role either. He spends the bulk of the film stuck in the crashed spaceship. Whilst the arc of a father son story of this kind is predictable from the off so you can tell what the characters will be like come the end, there's precious little to make him likeable. It's a film that does take itself far too seriously.

And yet, although the biology of this strange new Earth will give you plenty to nit pick if you wish, there are things on the screen that do catch the attention. The design work is pretty good and very original. The landscapes are stunning at times. And the music is very good, particularly right for some of the emotional moments in the final quarter.

But the whole film does hinge on the relationship of the two main characters, and that's where it falls down.

This is slightly better than it's reputation. But ultimately it's not something that will stick in the mind for too long.

The dvd contains the following language and subtitle options:

Languages: English, French, Italian.

Subtitles: English, Arabic, Dutch, French, Hindi, Italian.

The disc begins with an anti piracy advert, which can be skipped via the next button on the dvd remote.

Extras are:

Previews. A generic blu ray trailer, plus three unrelated movie ones. Which can only be watched all in a row.

A father's legacy: an eight minute feature about the Smiths on and offscreen. This is best described as somewhat self indulgent.

1000 years in 300 seconds. Five minutes worth of footage from the production of the film. All short and speeded up.

The nature of the future. Five minutes worth of footage of just the locations. Some stunning footage. Actually quite worth a watch.
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Showing 1-2 of 2 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 4 Aug 2014 11:00:36 BDT
Good review but this didn't cut the mustard for me personally.

In reply to an earlier post on 4 Aug 2014 12:37:25 BDT
Paul Tapner says:
I didn't catch it at the cinema and I'd been meaning to get onto it for a while. I could see what the film was trying to do, and if it had been a Robert A Heinlein short story it would have worked. But the two lead characters and actors just weren't quite up to it.
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Paul Tapner
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)   

Location: poole dorset england

Top Reviewer Ranking: 364