AFTER EARTH (2013) : REVIEW

June 5, 2013


"Do not misunderstand me. Danger is very real. But fear is a choice."
Let me tell you something about a director named M. Night Shyamalan. He was a young, bright and promising director. He was the one who directed a successful movie in 1999 called The Sixth Sense, which had the most memorable twist in a movie. He then continued to master his work through Signs, Unbreakable and The Village. Then, all of sudden, his work hit the down-low with The Happening, Lady In The Water and of course, the truly dissapointing The Last Airbender. And just that, he then became famous as a director who continously produces movies that flop in the market. For that very reason, I didn't expect much from him, especially when his companion is Jaden Smith. No offense, but that kind of choice really set up people's mind to certain expectation, and it wasn't high. So, we need a comeback from him. The real question here is : "Can he?"


Earth as we know it is no longer inhabitable. A thousand years had passed and human race is now living in a new planet called Nova Prime, where everyone is safe, if only a genetically-altered creatures called Ursa hasn't been sent to hunt and kill human. Ursa is blind, but they can sense human by smelling fear through pheromones that human body produces when they get scared. General Cypher Raige (Will Smith) is a man who's known for his 'ghosting' skill, a skill when one can beat fear so that Ursa can't see him. This skill is perfected and taught to every single rangers in United Ranger Cops, where Kitai Raige (Jaden Smith), Cypher's son, is willing to join the forces. Kitai tried so hard to prove himself worthy to his father, especially after a tragedy that occured to his elder sister, Senshi (Zoe Kravitz). Then, when his father is home from a long expedition, Kitai finally had the chance to join his father on a journey. Unfortunately, the plane that took them damaged badly after hitting an asteroid storm, forcing it to crash-landed on the now-hazardous Earth. Both father-son survived, but both of Cypher's legs are injured badly, leaving Kitai with no choice but to go on a journey to find a beacon that can send trasmission, to ask for an evacuation. Kitai is now have to face his fear : he has to overcome the toxic air, live in a strange wilderness, not to mention face the escaped Ursa that their plane brought with ...

Stand up and give a round of applause for Shyamalan because he had just added another title to his failure list. He was succeeded on making me in tears for yawning and for (possibly) interrupting my seat-mate because I constantly checked my phone throughout 100 minutes showing time. Hear me, I NEVER CHECK MY PHONE IN THE THEATRE, because I hate people who do so. But not this time; it was dull and incredibly boring, I couldn't help it. I was thinking about the book Moby Dick instead (have to read it, I thought).

Post-apocalyptic sci-fi movie can be a real deal because it's rare (remember Oblivion?). I can say that this movie actually had a shot to be great, but it depended on how they executed it. And they executed it badly. FYI only, this was the first time for Shyamalan to not be the only screenwriter as he usually did in any of his movies. He brought along Gary Whitta (Book of Eli), but he just couldn't help all the plot holes, awkward and forced story, pointless directions, unfocused terms, and jumpy plot. This movie offered too much flashback that didn't affect much, especially those forced and melodramatic flashbacks Cypher had when he struggled with his pain. The opening credit, though provided quite a backstory, felt rather like an opening credit from one of SyFy's TV shows. And if this movie was supposed to be a survival movie, I couldn't sense that; it was vague, with lots of misdirections. As for the science-fiction and futuristic aspects, they just didn't show. Just look at the interior of the spaceship filled with rope and plastic thingy. And boy does this movie have a weird imagination of future earth. The sets, the effect and the CGI were lack of amazement, especially in Earth itself. I only saw wilderness, an evolution of the weather and air that were only being shown in miliseconds scenes and conversations. It didn't show the saying of how dangerous and inhabitale earth was and how the creatures there had evolved (if evolving means getting bigger and harsher, you got it right, but that's not what I meant). Simply said, those were just an eye-candy to guide you to the big revelation of the Ursa (again!).

You should understand that this is not a Will Smith movie. Indeed he had quite a role there, but this was about Kitai; a story focusing on how he dealt with his fears, struggles, and trauma (so-called PTSD). This was the part which making me confused : why Jaden exactly? This movie required a Hunger Games-like survival-action and he's just too young to deliver that (I mean by crying for Dad's help). His facial expression was awkward and his movements were quite robotic. Indeed that he played well on delivering one particular, very emotional scene, but that was it. As for Will Smith, he was the star of this movie, though it wasn't about him. He appeared to be fearless, guiding his son through a skype-like platform, while trying to retain his pain, all when he was trapped in a spaceship's wreckage. Though Will was rather motionless, but his real father-son chemistry with Jaden was certainly paid off.

Finally said, I was trying so hard to like this movie, but I just couldn't. This movie didn't give a slight of impression to me. As Cypher once said, "Kneel down ..", well this movie is certainly kneeling down in the box office. RENTAL BABY!




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