Thursday, December 12, 2013

Review: After Earth (2013)

Review by Disgruntled Monkey

Director: M. Night Shyamalan
Starring: Jaden Smith and Will Smith
Writers: Gary Whitta and M. Night Shyamalan

After Earth is a hugh Science Fiction blockbuster that actually deals with the relationship of a father and son. What is interesting is that behind the scenes, this movie was made because a father wanted to help out his sons career. It's funny how the real life tale is a lot more interesting than the story in this movie.

After Earth is so by the numbers it isn't funny. Some have said that it's remind them of a video game and in many respects I agree. They even have the final boss level right after unlocking the last hero ability. In many respects I could say that this is probably the closest we will ever get to a true Video Game movie. This in itself isn't such a bad thing if the movie had more to give.

Unfortunately while the story is simple it isn't helped by bone head decisions from characters and scenes that don't make sense because information isn't relaid to the audience very well. One particular set piece might have had a big emotional impact with me if it wasn't for an overwhelming question of 'how the hell did that character know that?' There is a way to explain it, but it never is. This entire movie just feels like rushed and incomplete.

However all this pales in regards to the horrid acting. Will Smith is a good actor and has a huge amount of charisma, but in what I can only believe is an effort to not over shadow his son, down plays everything. Seeming this is a movie with really only two characters, it puts all the work on Jaden Smith and the young Smith just doesn't have the talent or charisma of his dad. Through out the movie he looks like he's sulking and in all honesty I couldn't stand his character. In the hands of a better actor there is some emotional heft to the proceedings that could of been explored, but it's just wasted. Having such an ineffectual lead just destroys this movie as who do you have to cheer?

What makes this worse is that Shyamalan delivers a visually beautiful movie. Despite his inflated ego destroying the scripts he writes, the man does have some great talent behind the camera. He's also backed up by some great effects and world building. Honestly the stuff surrounding the story is fantastic and I would love to explore this science fiction world. Just without the Smith's and maybe a better writer.

The visuals and the direction and world building almost makes up for the flaws of this movie. In fact someone could find some enjoyment to be had in this movie if they can disregard the horrible acting and the bare bones story. It's a shame as I can't fully recommend this movie in full, but if you see it on the television and have nothing else to do you could always take in the world.

0 aliens out of 1
It's hard to be entertained when your lead is boring.
0 aliens out of 1
There just some big plot holes that shouldn't be in such a simple story.
0 aliens out of 1
Jaden Smith just doesn't have the talent or charisma to be a lead actor. 
1 aliens out of 1
Shyamalan has a great visual style that he brings to the movie.
1 aliens out of 1
Things look beautiful and the world building is great.

2 aliens out of 5
It could of been a contender, instead it is a failure.

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