My all-time favorite genre of film is survival thrillers, so when I saw the first preview for “After Earth” staring Jaden and Will Smith I knew I had to see it. I don’t know what it is about life and death and the will to survive in films that captivates me so dearly but with that said, I know that the genre is a hit or miss for the average audience. In other words, half of these movies rock, and half of these movies suck, but “After Earth” takes that grounded statement and bends it a little bit.
Right away the premise intrigued me seeing as how I have written a story along a similar guideline. Cypher Raige (Will Smith) is a hard-headed high ranking officer in the military in a future civilization where space travel exists and where Earth is no longer what we call our home. After he brings his son Kitai (Jaden Smith) along with him for a operation, they find themselves in the middle of a meteor shower which crashes them onto Earth’s forgotten surface. The crash leaves a very broken Cypher and a nearly untouched Kitai as the only survivors and it is up to Kitai to signal a beacon so they can be rescued.
So as I said, I really enjoyed the premise of this film, but with poor direction the film staggers along its some-what simple plot to its final conclusion. At a lot of times I was genuinely enjoying the journey man takes to survive in a hostile world, but then it would stutter and I would be taken right back out of it. Atmosphere is key to a sci-fi film and if it is lacking, it almost becomes pointless. This was “After Earth’s” biggest praise and biggest problem. On the plus side, the film made Earth look abandoned and forgotten with forestry taking back over the surface and I got the sense that everything wanted to eat everything—which made things quite stressful. On the flipside, things like the space ships and futuristic worlds were lacking and looked rather stale when compared to the recent film “Star Trek Into Darkness.”
In the end, I would recommend this film to anyone who was intrigued by the trailer, but if you did not like the preview you are not going to like this film. For me the positives out-weighed the negatives on this one and I can accept it for what it is, simply a fun thriller with nothing exponentially new to bring to the table.