Sunday, August 18, 2013

3 Short Paragraphs: After Earth

2013, M. Night Shyamalan -- cinema

Right out of the star port, I have to state I am a Shyamalan Apologist.  I have enjoyed, to some degree, every movie he has done, including The Last Airbender. I list Unbreakable in my ever changing, as they should always be, Top 10 Movies list. I even enjoyed The Happening despite the terrible acting by all involved. I don't subscribe to his described need to have "a twist" in every movie in order to stay popular. Alas, I have to admit that this movie is not very good.

Will and Jaden Smith are two soldiers in a distant future where mankind has abandoned the Earth. In a too-little-explained prologue, we learn humans left the earth a thousand years ago and settled another planet. But aliens arrived soon after and a war begins with the S'krell using big nasty monsters who sniff us out via our fear. I could go on for a few more paragraphs adding to this largely useless back story (layered but not explaining much) but suffice it to say that while Will and Jaden are transporting one of these alien beasties, their ship crash-lands on the abandoned but now rejuvenated Earth.

This is a beautifully shot movie, with grand Avatar style vistas and a keenly designed technology. But really, what isn't these days. Crash-landed Jaden has to get from point A to point B and recover a MacGuffin so he can call in the cavalry to rescue him and his dad. The movie is a journey of survival and self-enlightenment -- Jaden's Kitai feels he can never live up to his dad's legacy as General Cypher Raige. So, the story is just the two of them.... and the monster. Not only is Earth a dangerous place (ignore the whole "evolved to kill you" tag line) like any planet with predators would be, but the monster they were transporting is loose and wants to eat Kitai. You would think that in such a small story, we would have a focus and be drawn to the battle of wills between man and beast. But no, Kitai is whiney & annoying and Raige (*rolls eyes at lame name*) is just an absentee dick of a dad. Tell me how a video game (The Last of Us) with an anti-hero male lead and an annoying 14 year female lead can be more compelling and emotionally engaging than a massive budget movie by a gifted film maker? I was truly disappointed with this movie.