Shyamalan’s ‘After Earth’ crashes and burns

My biggest problem with “After Earth” is that I saw it a few months ago and it was better when it was called “Oblivion” starring Tom Cruise. This is the year of post-apocalyptic thrillers that have a twist that can be seen a mile away and some are faring better than others. “After Earth” is not one of those movies.

In “After Earth,” a crash landing gives Kitai Raige an opportunity to prove to his father, Cypher, that he has what it takes to be a Ranger in the same armed forces his father works for. The two are stranded on an Earth that no longer contains any humanity and is filled with beasts of the wild.  

“After Earth” is hardly pulse-pounding and the acting is abysmal at best. Dare I say, I would have preferred to see Jaden Smith in a sequel to “The Karate Kid” remake, because he at least showed he had some acting ability. Apparently the young Smith did not improve his ability like his father. From the beginning of the film I was aware that I was in for garbage acting. The first monologue sounded like Jaden was reading the script for the first time while director M. Night Shyamalan recorded it. 

In addition to the lack of talent found in the younger Smith, it’s apparent that the era of the Hollywood superstar very well may be at an end and “After Earth” marks that unfortunate end. Will Smith, former king of the box office, has fallen hard with his latest film. This blockbuster wannabe is far from the worst movie of the year, but it is surprisingly boring compared to Smith’s other films. 

Nothing is obviously wrong with the film and Shyamalan is getting bashed a little too hard from other critics, because he still knows how to make a movie. The cinematography is quite good, the story has potential, but his actors are dull as the dirt they stand in. The director of “The Sixth Sense” and “Unbreakable” will have a difficult time coming back from this misstep, but he should not be kicked out of the film business. I believe he still has stories to tell that have potential and an eye that can work in a curious way. Let’s hope his star shoots back up after the divebomb that is “After Earth.”

Patrick White

Movie fan Patrick White doesn't spare anyone's feelings when deciding if the latest Hollywood offering is trash or treasure. Catch his reviews on the latest theater and DVD releases in Saturday's paper.

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