I want to like M. Night Shyamalan’s movies. I really do. His early trio of films from over a decade ago ("The Sixth Sense", "Unbreakable" and "Signs" … yes, I like "Signs") is the stuff of brilliance, and any filmmaker would love to have one of those movies on his resume, much less all three. Every time I see a trailer for one of his movies, I can’t help but think, "This is it. This is the comeback." And every time, I’m greeted with an even bigger bomb.
It’s gotten so rough that "After Earth," the Smith family sci-fi project that’s too scared to come out as a M. Night movie, comes as a genuine sign of progress for the former Oscar nominee simply because it’s not an unequivocal disaster. No, it’s merely bad.
After an excessively scattered opening – complete with exposition-filled voiceover – we meet our pouty hero, Kitai Raige (Jaden Smith), a space ranger-in-training on the planet Nova Prime. It appears we didn’t learn our lesson from "The Happening" and ruined the Earth with pollution, forcing us to leave.
Nova Prime makes for a decent replacement home, especially with all of the new age furniture and drapes adorning the rocky dwellings. The only problem is the planet’s original owners: vicious, insectoid alien residents who don’t appreciate the intrusion and have a habit of using humans like grim Christmas tree decorations (it’s surprisingly intense for a PG-13). Thus the need for space rangers.
Unfortunately, Kitai fails the program because he does not have enough control over his fear, which is how the blind aliens find and hunt humans. It’s a disappointment for Kitai and his stern military dad Cypher (Will Smith), who is a legend amongst the rangers for his ability to control his fear and "ghost" undetected by the creatures.
In the hopes of coming closer, Cypher takes Kitai on a routine ranger trip that makes a very not routine crash-landing on Earth, leaving the father-son duo stranded and in Cypher’s case, dangerously crippl…Read more...