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In “After Earth,” the Earth has been abandoned and humans have settled on a new planet. But father and son Cypher and Kitai — played by real life father and son Will (“Men in Black 3”) and Jaden Smith (“The Karate Kid”) — have crashed on Earth, now inhabited by ravaging wildlife and environmental dangers.
Kitai has to venture into the dangerous wilderness to find a distress beacon to signal for a rescue. Along the way, he must face his fears to defeat a deadly enemy.
This all sounds exciting, but there’s one problem: Jaden
isn’t ready for such a lead role in a film, especially one in the shadow of his superstar father.
The problem with Jaden’s acting is you can tell he is acting. It doesn’t seem natural. His dialogue doesn’t flow and his facial expressions are forced. It gets a little better near the end of the film, but those moments are few.
The dialect used also is a little distracting. It seems like a form of a southern accent. My guess is filmmakers were trying to come up with something different to be futuristic but it doesn’t work. Instead, it sidetracks the moviegoer’s attention in the film.
Because Will Smith’s character is played stoically, there only are a few humorous interchanges between the two actors. In those moments, the strange dialect is dropped and it creates an awkward break.
Sophie Okonedo, typically known for her work in BBC projects, and Zoë Kravitz (“X-Men First Class”) also star in the film.
I’m a big fan of director M. Night Shyamalan’s earlier work including “The Sixth Sense” and “Signs,” but his creative vision seems to have been lost in his last few films.
This also is the first time in many years he has worked on a project from someone else’s screenplay. Typically he directs films created from his own original screenplay.
The story of “After Earth” originated from Will Smith and then was expanded on by others. It could use more tweaking.
One bright spot in the movie is the sound. I can’t put my finger on it, but I found myself really drawn into the sound effects. The futuristic technology in the film is very fluid and the sound effects greatly exhibit that.
In the end, “After Earth” is a $130 million dollar bonding project for Will and Jaden Smith. They might have wanted to save a few dollars and gone camping instead.
“After Earth” would play well as a rental when you don’t have to shell out as much cash to see it on the big screen. For a star as big as Will Smith, I expect better and have seen better from him. His pervious post-apocalyptic work, “I Am Legend,” is a better film.
For something more entertaining from the Smiths, search YouTube for the “Fresh Prince” reunion to hear him rap the theme song and see the Carlton dance from their recent appearance on a British talk show.