Cast: Jaden Smith, Will Smith, Sophie Okonedo, Zoë
Direction: M. Night Shyamalan
Duration: 1 hour 40 minutes
STORY: A father and son are stranded when their spaceship crash-lands on post-apocalyptic Earth. Father sends the son on a mission to get to a rescue beacon in time and beam a distress message into deep space.
REVIEW: Will Smith is known to do films with a bang – grand movies of sweeping scale where he is the focal point of attention. Not so in this one. Here, he takes the back seat and hands Jaden the baton (obvious metaphors abound; he gives the kid his own saber at the commencement of the quest) to be the main man. The film is set hundreds of years into the future, where mankind has been evacuated from Earth; a planet now inhabited by human-eating nasties.
Cypher Raige (Smith) and his son Kitai Raige (Jaden) are forced to crash-land. The film’s plot bears an uncanny resemblance to a video-game where the player has to go the distance from point ‘A’ to ‘B’ (100 km, in this case) in ‘X’ amount of time. Along the way he battles monsters of increasing strength. There are health packs too, like bonus points. And in the end, there is a ‘boss fight’ with a hideous alien critter called the Ursa. That’s it, game over. Cypher maintains a radio link with Kitai as the harsh patriarch at times and the voice of reason-cumvendor of wisdom and encouragement at other times.
Again it’s like how a computer-programmed narrator is in a video-game. At some point, they lose contact and Kitai’s moment of reckoning arrives. It’s about Kitai having to prove himself to his dad. The rest of the cast is inconsequential, forgettable and completely replaceable. There are menacing moments and the editing is taut but this stays in cliche territory; it’s nothing you haven’t seen before. The film suffers from a lack of ambition. After Earth aims for interstellar overdrive but barely manages to take off.