MRR Review: "After Earth"

Photo Credit: Columbia Pictures

MRR Review: "After Earth"

-- Rating: PG-13 (For sci-fi action violence and some disturbing images)
Length: 100 minutes
Release Date: May 31, 2013
Director: M. Night Shyamalan
Genre: Action/AdventureMystery

In the movie "After Earth," a father and his son crash and get stranded on Earth a millennium after human beings had been forced to evacuate it. It is up to the son to seek help after his father is seriously injured in the crash. The movie was co-written by M. Night Shyamalan and Gary Whitta, with the former also directing it.

"After Earth" opens in the near future when the Earth has been devastated by an environmental disaster. Those who could make it have escaped to a new world, called Nova Prime, which lies outside the Solar System. Things do not remain rosy for long, and the human race, led by General Cypher Raige (Will Smith), goes to war against alien invaders called S'krell and their Ursas, which are deadly weapons-cum-creatures.

Kitai Raige (Jaden Smith), Cypher's son, blames himself for the death of his sister Senshi (Zoë Kravitz), and he seeks to make amends by joining the military, but he is unable to measure up to his father, leading to the latter's utter disappointment. Kitai's mother, however, has a different view of matters and convinces her husband to take the young man on his, Cypher's, last voyage.

Father and son somehow grow closer during the voyage, but the journey does not go as well as planned. The pair's spaceship is devastated by an asteroid shower and crashes on Earth. Cypher is seriously injured in the crash, and he is unable to call for help because the communication equipment is damaged during the accident. It is then up to the young Kitai to reach the location of the spaceship's tail section in time to recover the emergency beacon equipment and save himself and his father.

For some time now, Will's fans have been waiting for his appearance in another epic, action-adventure film. It seems as if they will have to wait a little longer for such a film. In the mean time, they have to content themselves with this sci-fi, adventure, and drama movie "After Earth" and sequels to Will's other famous films such as "Bad Boys" and "I, Robot." "After Earth" is not exactly a traditional summer blockbuster, but it does not disappoint either. Though some people have been arguing that the movie was made specifically for Will's son Jaden, watching it leaves no doubt that it is still a Will Smith movie. Some people have also argued that the movie is not exactly a sci-fi film but merely looks like one. To these people, it is more of an adventure story.

Whatever people say, most agree that this film has a very solid screenplay. The protagonists have a clear goal, a sense of urgency and high stakes. These are some of the ingredients that make a quality movie. Of course, all these would not be of any worth if there was no character development in "After Earth." Fortunately, the writers knew this and did their best to add depth to the characters. Cypher is clearly depicted as an aloof, fearless and generally emotionless father. His son, however, seems to be his exact opposite and suffers from an abundance of fear.

For those who really have problems with the script, it seems as if they are centered on two areas. The first one is the opening, which has been described as confusing by those who have watched it. The second one is that Cypher seems to overawe audiences with his fear of the Earth for nothing; the planet is not that bad. In fact, the killer monster they crashed with seems more dangerous than the actual Earth creatures. Other than those two hiccups, the script is good enough.

M. Night Shyamalan is known for writing, directing and producing most of his movies. "The Happening," "The Last Airbender," and "Lady in the Water" are some of the films he has written, directed and produced. The Indian American also loves to dabble in movies with contemporary supernatural themes such as "The Sixth Sense" and "The Village."

Will, of course, is a film producer, actor, and rapper. He has performed in some of the most successful films, which include "Ali," "Men in Black 3," and "Independence Day." Most people, however, will remember him from the very successful television series "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air" that ran for nearly a decade. Will's son, Jaden, is a budding actor who has featured in several productions including "The Karate Kid" and "The Pursuit of Happiness." Overall, "After Earth" is an entertaining post apocalyptic adventure movie that people will want to watch.

Rating: 3 out of 5