After Earth (2013)

<strong class="MovieTitle">After Earth</strong> (2013)

(On Cable TV, May 2014) Reviews for science-fiction action thriller After Earth were downright hostile, and after seeing the result it’s not only easy to agree: it’s hard to know where to begin in reporting the on-screen disaster. It didn’t take a long time for the film to grate on my nerves: Never mind the “directed by M. Night Shyamalan” credit warning: the early scenes set in a far-future society multiply the implausibility, from window shades that don’t actually close to creatures that can (only) smell fear to some of the ugliest aesthetics imaginable. It doesn’t get much better once the plot gets in motion and that stupidity compounded by bad design lands two characters away from everything else. The script is terrible, and the direction isn’t much better: there’s little sense of energy or spectacle to the adventures of a young man racing toward survival. (Once upon a time, I defended Shyamalan’s directing skills even as his scripts worsened. Not anymore, and certainly not since The Last Airbender.) There isn’t much imagination on display regarding the features of this future earth (much of it “bigger and faster animals!”, ignoring the time required for evolution.) While it’s good to see Will Smith play a mature adult role, Jaden Smith doesn’t bring much as the lead –although it’s probably just as fair to blame both script and direction for his lack of affect. It all builds up to a snooze of a climax. Despite my own built-in liking for SF adventures, I found little to enjoy here, and considerable relief when the film ended.

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