M. Night Shyamalan, the man whose name is synonymous with terrible filmmaking. It seems like he saw what Uwe Boll was doing and thought he could do it even better, or worse depending on how you look at it. Both have put out some of the worst films I’ve ever had the misfortune of seeing and yet they both still have a presence in Hollywood. I don’t get it and I’m pretty damn sure I’m not the only one either. M. Night created one of the best horror films in the history of cinema in 1999 with The Sixth Sense but he also created The Happening. It’s as if someone hit him in the head with a shovel shortly after he made The Sixth Sense and since then no one has the heart to tell the man that his movies suck. I was such a big fan of his, I loved The Sixth Sense, Unbreakable, Signs and yes I even enjoyed The Village. I truly don’t understand this rapid decline in his films. The wind was the enemy in The Happening… the wind. Not hurricane winds but a light breeze flowing through the leaves; it doesn’t get more stupid than that. He also made The Last Airbender; I don’t even know where to start with that one. I guess for that one all I have is a question or two: WHY? HOW? And holy sh*t this is terrible. Anyway to the topic I’m supposed to be focusing on, his latest effort After Earth.
I jumped at the chance to see this if only for the fact that I could see it without paying. If it sucked real badly (very likely) no big deal, it was free. If it was good, then I got to watch a good movie for free. As the lights went down I forced myself to leave my biased opinion of the director to the side and just try to enjoy the movie. With the temperature of the theater at about 90 degrees I really, really hoped this was going to be at least decent or it was going to be a very long 100 minutes. Luckily fate was on my side and it was actually, believe it or not, a pretty decent movie. For a normal film it was okay; for a Shyamalan film it was excellent! It’s well paced, decently enough acted at least to the point that it didn’t bother me and the CGI wasn’t terrible either.
I would say the worst part is the story ,which isn’t all that bad anyway; the premise is a bit weak and some of it acted as filler. In the end, though, I felt entertained and that’s so much more than what I expected. I’m not sure who can take the credit for making this a half way decent flick, Will Smith or M. Night? I would side with Smith for obvious reasons but I suppose it’s irrelevant either way. Jaden Smith plays Kitai, a young man who wants nothing more than to prove his worth to his very intimidating father General Cypher. In a futuristic existence Earth has long since been abandoned and the human race has relocated to a new habitable planet. The new home planet might seem similar to Earth but it has a few major differences that could threaten the very existence of mankind. With dangerous creatures rampant on this new home everyone turns to the Rangers, an elite military type group that specializes in killing these creatures. After attempting to join the Rangers, Kitai is denied and forced to face the disappointment of his father who happens to be one of the best Rangers that ever lived. In an attempt to get closer with his son, Cypher brings Kitai on a routine trip that will allow some time to bond. During the trip something goes terribly awry and the ship is forced to crash land on the extremely formidable and dangerous planet known as Earth.
Kitai and Cypher awaken after the crash to realize they are the only survivors. This is a planet no longer meant for humans as everything has evolved to kill. With Cypher badly injured, Kitai is forced to go alone to retrieve a beacon device that landed far away from their location. A young man on his own, fending off creatures unknown to him, and he must do this or they will die. This will be Kitai’s greatest challenge ever and the odds of his failure are very high.
I don’t know what it is with M. Night and accents but it’s like he can’t ever figure out what to do with them. In The Last Airbender the characters sounded like they were from California, in After Earth they have some kind of British accent, it’s odd and I can’t quite place it, but mostly I don’t care. Plot holes pop up here and there but I’m really trying to focus on the fact that I just saw an M. Night Shyamalan film and I wasn’t completely upset afterwards. I know this will get torn apart and it’s a shame because it won’t be judged for its faults and strengths but instead will be judged on the sole factor that M. Night directed it. This isn’t anything special and will most likely be forgotten shortly after its theatrical run but honestly, did anyone expect a great film here? I know I didn’t. Most will probably hate it, but like me if you can leave your ire at the door then you might actually find some enjoyment in After Earth.
Rated PG-13 for: sci-fi action violence and some disturbing images
Run time: 100 minutes
After Credits Scene: None
Starring: Will Smith, Jaden Smith, Zoe Kravitz, Sophie Okonedo
Directed By: M. Night Shyamalan
Out of 5 Nerdskulls
Story: 2.5/ Acting: 3/ Directing: 3.5/ Visuals: 4
OVERALL: 3 Nerdskulls
Check out the After Earth trailer below: