“After Earth” (PG-13, 100 min) is a sci-fi action adventure film staring Jaden Smith and Will Smith. The real life father and son duo play father and son in this film.
Earth has long since been abandoned by humans. The animals are wild and evolved to hunt humans. Temperatures drop to freezing at night, and the air is unbreathable to humans who have been living in a settlement on another planet.
Cypher Raige, a renowned general, and his son Kitai, a cadet, crash lands and is stranded on Earth. With Cypher injured, it is up to Kitai to get from point A to point B in order to send a deep space signal for help. But Kitai has to brave the unknown dangers of Earth, the consequences of his actions, and an escaped Ursa, a beast that hunts humans by smelling fear.
It is a simple journey plot without any twists and turns. It’s even laid out for the audience when Cypher shows Kitai, through a still functioning ship computer, the path he has to take to save both their lives. We can pretty much guess that the journey is a life changing process for Kitai, and will also change his strenuous relationship with his father into a better one. The good ending was no surprise either.
The nature shots stood out well and defined in this film. Shot in various locations like Costa Rica and Utah, the beauty of nature was captured very well in deep color and rich detail. The added special effects, however, were not as impressive.
Overall, Will and Jaden’s on screen relationship and acting needed a little more passion throughout, whether they portrayed anger, guilt, fear, determination, joy, or love. There is one tiny nuance that most audiences might not pick up on. Cypher told Kitai that fear is a choice. To survive his journey, Kitai needs to overcome his fears, especially with a fear-smelling Ursa hunting him. Cypher is a highly regarded general who have chosen not to live in fear. But in the scene where Cypher loses contact with his son, he chooses fear. It should have been a very poignant scene for Will Smith, but the build up of Cypher’s stiff and controlling personality made the change in his character hardly detectable.
“After Earth” is a good no-brainer summer movie. It’s not an epic adventure and there are no subtleties or surprises. But there are a few engaging scenes that may not get your blood pumping, but will bring you along the journey. This is a good movie for younger audiences who will be able to easily relate to the young Jaden, and who can easily pick up lessons on overcoming fear, letting go of guilt and anger, bravery, and perseverance.