Excerpt: After Earth opens with sound. Kitai (Jaden Smith) huffs purified air nervously through a futuristic oxygen mask – which looks much like our modern ones, only dressed in nonsensical video projection systems – while his father Cypher (Will Smith) calms the situation. That situation is a catastrophic crash, their space craft set on colliding with Earth. Heavy handed, militaristic, and incapable of humor, Cypher is jettisoned violently from the room, leaving Kitai alone.
Conclusion: I really wanted After Earth to not be as bad as everyone said it was. Maybe its problems have been overstated slightly. Still, this Jaden Smith vehicle is an unfortunately lifeless sci-fi outing that falls short of his father's usually high standard of entertainment. One of these days, M. Night Shyamalan will bounce back. But not today.
Excerpt: Hmmm, there are a lot of ways I could approach this initial paragraph. I could talk about Will Smith. I could talk about Jaden Smith. I could talk about M. Night Shyamalan. Decisions, decisions. Oh let’s go with the obvious, shall we? I’ve always been a big fan of Will Smith. Back in the 80’s I was listening to DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince (Will Smith was the Fresh Prince, of course).
Conclusion: Although the film is a misfire and a disappointment, it's really only that way for its stars, as the father-son team up of Will and Jaden Smith failed to ignite much in the way of interest in the younger star, or provide evidence that he might one day continue along the same path, unaided by certain advantages.
Conclusion: M. Night Shyamalan is a filmmaker for whom it's easy to root. He's proven himself capable of assembling near perfect movies -- The Sixth Sense , Unbreakable , and especially Signs are amongst the finest motion pictures of the past few decades -- but he has, for whatever reason, fallen on hard times and failed to conjure up the same sort of magic his early films produced.
Excerpt: The art of storytelling is both of distinct narrative interest and personal issue in the latest payload of calcified nonsense from one of modern cinema's oddest would-be auteurs. As in Lady in the Water , M. Night Shyamalan's After Earth is smug in its awareness of its own structure and scripting, the largest signifier of which is the name given to Will Smith's character: Cypher Raige.
Excerpt: There was once a time when M. Night Shyamalan movies were met with a giddy anticipation. Works such as The Sixth Sense and Unbreakable cemented his status as one of the most dynamic filmmakers working in Hollywood. Or at least until absurdities like Lady in the Water and The Last Airbender cast serious doubts as to whether he still had his distinctive cinematic touch.
Excerpt: Herman Melville’s classic novel Moby Dick acts as a reference point provided at different intervals to those wading through the weighty-but-easy-enough-to-follow mythology mapped out in M. Night Shyalaman’s After Earth . But whether intentional or not, the mentions of the book kept reminding me that like Ahab, Shyamalan continues to passionately search for the elusive project that will elevate him back into the storytelling stratosphere he once occupied following the...