After Earth (2013)
DVD Released October 9, 2013. Rated M, Violence. Starring Will Smith, Jaden Smith. Story: Will Smith, Screenplay Gary Whitta and M. Night Shyamalan. Director M. Night Shyamalan
You can hear the gravitas in Will Smith’s voice as he wises up his son: “It’s earth”.
But not as we know it.
After Earth is a journey of perils and healing when the world is lost.
It is another of those ‘earth has gone bad and mad’ scenarios to send us to the far reaches of the galaxy and into the arms of another planet and the aliens who were there first.
Climate change (read natural disasters) and war are taken for granted as evidence for earth’s demise, and the ‘evolution’ of other species is exaggerated in earth’s new world ‘order’: earth is uninhabitable for humans.
Will Smith plays Commander Cypher who is literally fearless of aliens running amok on the new planet that humans call home.
Cypher takes his vulnerable son Kitai (Jaden Smith), a burgeoning ‘ranger’, under his wing for some one-on-one father-and-son bonding. But their spacecraft crash-lands on earth.
Cypher is injured but has enough video gadgets to keep an eye on Kitai who goes on a marathon adventure through the jungle of the new earth to find help.
Cypher is disciplined, unsmiling, uncompromising; nevertheless, Will Smith’s charisma, more controlled here than usual, oozes through the Cypher role.
The best part of a Cypher monologue is when he minimalizes fear to its core ingredients. You wish fear could be this simple.
Fear is a basic principle in After Earth’s world yet the movie’s theme is love overcoming fear.
Kitai’s journey is thin on execution, but there are subtle Christian references in here. An exciting free-fall scene would give the birdman a run for his money and keep us on edge throughout the late news.
After Earth is a worthwhile story.
Peter Veugelaers writes poetry, stories, non-fiction and reviews.