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After Earth Movie Review

Reviewed by on May 31, 2013
Rating: 3 Star Rating

Kidzworld reviews “After Earth” the new Will and Jaden Smith Sci Fi adventure movie!

By: Lynn Barker

What if your dad was a big hero and you were always trying to live up to his expectations, then, after tragedy, his life is in your hands? Wow! Very heavy for a teen guy.

The Backstory

After ruining our Earth, 1,000 years in the past, mankind, led by a corps of “Rangers” had to ship out to another planet only to fight vicious, bug-like alien invaders. Most famous of the alien fighters is Ranger General Cypher Raige (Will Smith) whose teen son Kitai (Jaden Smith) is having a very hard time living up to dad’s legend. Kitai also can’t get over the fact that when he was a little kid, one of the aliens killed his sister and he feels responsible.

Kitai (Jaden) on his trekKitai (Jaden) on his trek

Dad and Son Into Space

When Cypher returns after many battles, he is even more estranged from his family. He decides to take Kitai with him on a training mission off planet for a bonding experience. All the hopes are dashed when the ship hits a freak storm in space and crash-lands on the now quarantined and very dangerous planet… Earth.

On the crashed shipOn the crashed ship

Kitai and His Quest

With only Kitai and a very badly injured Cypher remaining alive, it is up to Kitai to save himself and his dad. The ship has broken in two and the only working rescue beacon is in the other half of the ship.. 100 kilometers away! Dad tells his son to man up and go activate it. Dad can watch and guide via the ship’s still-working surveillance system. Oh, and, darn it, an enemy alien Ursa, onboard for training purposes, has escaped!

An injured Cypher (Will) tires to guide his sonAn injured Cypher (Will) tires to guide his son

The “Ghosting” Goal

In order to survive the many hostile animals on the new Earth as well as the Ursa, Kitai will have to learn to “Ghost”, a skill that his dad is perfect at of course.  It involves going into a mental zone in which there simply is no fear. The Ursa is blind but finds humans based on the pheromones or chemicals we put out when afraid. Since the incident in which his sister was killed, Kitai has never been able to achieve this.

Approaching EarthApproaching Earth

Race Against Time

Wearing a lifesuit and carrying his dad’s ultimate hand weapon the cutlass (which can morph into many different weapons), Kitai sets out alone on the planet headed for the other half of the ship. The teen faces many obstacles; half of his oxygen-enriching capsules are broken; killer monkeys chase him and a huge bird grabs him. The fact that the planet now freezes every night and he has to seek refuge in “hot spots” also blocks his progress. Back on the ship, dad Cypher is slowly bleeding out due to his injuries.

Kitai (Jaden) alone and afraidKitai (Jaden) alone and afraid

The Final Confrontation

Kitai finds the other half of the ship and the beacon but he must climb a huge volcanic mountain to gain enough altitude for it to work. At the top of that mountain? The dreaded Ursa. Can Kitai climb high enough to get the beacon to work before the Ursa gets him or his dad dies? Can he finally find the inner strength to “Ghost” so that he can destroy it without it seeing him?

Wrapping Up

Will and Jaden Smith thought up the basic story for this film and it morphed into a space adventure later on. It’s a cool idea; a coming-of-age story for a teen boy and a bonding experience for he and his dad. Although the film has a great “look” and the story has promise, the movie fails to make use of its biggest asset…Will Smith.

Kitai (Jaden) communicates with dadKitai (Jaden) communicates with dad

I’m not saying Will can’t be a “serious” actor but playing a tough, cold, almost emotionless military commander, he can’t use the usual brand of wit, charm and humor that make us enjoy his characters so much. General Raige is just too cold and stoic forcing most of the emotion of the film on young Jaden who is fun and very impressive to watch as he gracefully moves over rocks and uses skills like Parkour to bounce off walls but when he expresses sadness or worry it’s by frowning. Strong emotion comes through as yelling. He’s done better work. Some of this might be due to the film’s director M. Knight Shyamalan.

There are some logic lapses in the movie as well: if the planet, full of tropical plants, freezes every night, uh why don’t the plants die? Why don’t the rescue beacons just activate automatically when a ship crashes? Although the cutlass is a very cool-looking weapon… at times sort of like Darth Maul’s double headed light saber, why wouldn’t such a space-traveling, advanced civilization just use laser weapons or bombs to blow up the enemy Ursa? Why is it necessary to go into “hand to pincher” combat with them? Only in order for the cool “Ghosting” thing to be necessary.

The posterThe poster

If you are up for a cool-looking Sci Fi actioner with some neat critters and action sequences or are anxious to see Will and Jaden together, you’ll probably have a fun time but don’t expect scientific logic or expect to see the Will you might have grown to know and love in this one. We’ll go 3 stars.

After Earth Movie Rating: 3

Catch After Earth in theaters today!