NOOOOvember 2013: After Earth


Another fantastic guest blogger for NOOOOvember 2013! The wonderful Mr. James from over at JJames Reviews asked if he could join me in trashing another disappointing M. Night Shyamalan film (I just did a review of The Village). I have yet to see After Earth, but after this strong case against it, I kind of doubt I will…

Contributed by JJames Reviews.

I know. A popular cliché applies here; trust me, I know.

Fool me once and . . .

Fool me five times and Holy God I’m an idiot.

That’s not quite right, but you get the point. How could anyone be excited about any 2013 M. Night Shyamalan project? Prior to After Earth, Shyamalan made four movies post Signs (2002) and all of them are rotten, culminating in the colossal failure of a should-have-been can’t miss adaptation, The Last Airbender (2010).

But here’s the thing. Despite all common sense, all reasonable thought, all cinephile instinct, I was excited for After Earth. I was. I admit it. I was.

So what can I say? I’m an idiot.

***** Warning: Spoilers Follow ******

After Earth (2013)

after earth

Synopsis: A crash landing leaves Kitai Raige and his father, Cypher, stranded on Earth, a millennium after events forced humanity’s escape. With Cypher injured, Kitai must embark on a perilous journey to signal for help. –

The Excitement:

  • This isn’t M. Night’s story; it’s Will Smith’s. Nor is Shyamalan the only writer (The Book of Eli’s (2010) Gary Whitta is also involved). Surely, the story and dialogue will be better now that Shyamalan has finally given up the pen.
  • After Earth stars Will Smith, and that dude doesn’t make bad movies. He might make up and down flicks (Hancock – 2008 and I, Robot – 2004, amongst others), but he doesn’t star in anything so awful it’s unwatchable. He just doesn’t. Even if After Earth isn’t great, it will be exciting sci-fi fun.
  • Seriously, this one has some sick visuals. Just watch the trailer.
  • And Jaden Smith flies off of a cliff, wearing a hang glider uniform. Again, just watch the trailer.

The Disappointment:

  • In two words: almost everything.
  • Will Smith plays an affectless psychopath put to positive use convincingly enough, but so what? If only because of characterization, there’s no charisma in the elder Smith’s performance.
  • So we’re clear: No charisma = no fun.
  • Jaden Smith is not the least bit ready for the starring role his father gifts him. The younger Smith’s character, Kitai, is supposed to have a certain charm (charm = charisma = fun), but the teenager doesn’t portray it, which means neither of the lead characters have any.
  • Just to recap: No charisma = no fun.
  • The plot is illogical. Why has every species on Earth adapted to kill humans when none of the living animals has ever seen a human being, much less had cause or opportunity to fight one? Why can an alien species native to the same planet on which humans now reside breathe Earth’s oxygen without ill effect when humans cannot, at least not without the aid of magic (I mean technologic) juice? Why don’t omnipresent gadgets give Kitai the ability to see his father, so that we can be spared watching the younger Smith scream with no place to direct his eyes? Did Cypher actually order his son to abandon the mission that is literally the pair’s only chance at survival? Why must Kitai go to the top of a mountain to restore communications, when he is previously able to communicate just fine? Couldn’t he simply retrace his steps and thereby avoid a confrontation with the aforementioned alien?
  • That isn’t nearly all of the plot’s stupidity, by the way. But I’m tired of asking unanswered questions.
  • Okay. One more, this one for After Earth’s creative team. Really? Did you have a bird sacrifice itself to save a human being? I mean, really? How stupid are you people?
  • The backstory that supposedly develops these crappy characters is badly executed melodrama.
  • The biggest life lesson After Earth offers? Fear is a choice. There. Don’t you feel better now? I mean, you don’t need to be afraid anymore. Right? Ever. I’m sure M. Night would enjoy your therapy payments.
  • Even most of the “exciting” action sequences are pulled down by choppy flashbacks and expository dialogue that tells what the film has already shown us.

So what is the best part about After Earth? The trailer.

Thank you thank you thank you, JJames Reviews, for keeping NOOOOvember 2013 going strong! Many more disappointing films–but excellent reviews ;)–coming your way soon!

17 thoughts on “NOOOOvember 2013: After Earth

  1. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: While it was a dull movie, considering what M. Night has been up to in the past 5 or so years, it wasn’t THAT bad. There, I’m done. Good review.

    • You’re right. It’s not as bad as some of M.Night’s other work …

      But if the best we can say about a movie is, “It’s not THAT bad considering the filmmaker,” we ain’t talking about a good flick, are we? 😉

  2. Good stuff, lady and gent!! If M. Night ever wants to get back his game he HAS to stop his POOR imitation of Mamet’s use of dialogue. It has to stop. It’s not working and it’s getting worse . I didn’t see this movie but the dialogue during the trailer was pitiful.

  3. Nice review. 🙂 Poor M Night – two of his films featured so far in this blogathon. 😉 And deservedly so! Although I haven’t seen After Earth… The Happening finished me off! Lol

  4. The Happening was sooo bad, I walked out of theater and wanted my money back (with interest) because the movie goes absolutely NOWHERE!!!

    This movie was just completely boring. Nothing I hate more than movies with an interesting plot potential going down in flames because they only get the general plot right, not anything else.

    Great (bad) review!!

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