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Should You Take A Family Vacation To After Earth? (Movie Review)

After Earth TNI remember a title being thrown around called 1000 A.E..  However, I really never gave any though to what ever happened to it…that is until now.  Why you ask?  Well, I just found out that After Earth, the reason you are reading this review right now, was originally known as that.  But I have to be honest folks.  And I’d hope you feel the same way after you read this first paragraph.  I went into this press screening with a heightened sense of uneasiness and uncertainty.  I swore to myself that after I witnessed the abomination known as The Last Airbender, I would never see another M. Night Shyamalan film again for as long as I lived.  So what was I doing here?  I’m a liar.  Haha.  Jsut kidding.  Quite honestly, I’m new to the Austin scene and I wanted to make a good first impression with the PR people who bring joy to my moviegoing life.  But I guess it’s not the M. Night thing that made me so nervous.  It’s the fact that it’s based on an idea by Will Smith and also co-written by him too, which also stars him and his Karate Kid son, Jaden Smith.  Now don’t get me wrong.  I respect and love the hell out of Will Smith, but does he have what it takes to make a M. Night film work?  I guess in a nutshell, that’s what we are about to talk about.

After Earth 2

So I guess the story goes something to the fact that Will Smith conceived the idea while watching a television show with his brother-in-law.  It was not originally a sci-fi theme, but good old Will later changed his story to what I consider a pretty brilliant log line…if I don’t say so myself.  It simply read: A father and son crash land on Earth 1000 years after it has been abandoned by humankind.  Now I don’t know about you, but that simple and concise one-liner opens up a world of opportunities as to where one could take this story.  Everyone loves a good father-son story, but a sci-fi one on top of that.  Jumping Juniper!  Hold your horses, buddy.  Now you’re playing with power, right Mr. Lucas?

But what about M. Night?  What happened to him?  Well, rumor has it that after the obliteration of your senses that was The Last Airbender, he actually scrapped his next project that was said to have loosely attached the likes of Bruce Willis, Bradley Cooper and Gwyneth Paltrow.  Yep.  I think we can all agree that M. had some penance to do.  But how did he get wrapped up with The Fresh Prince?  That’s what I want to know.  But anyway, M. Night shares writing credit on 1000 A.E. with both Gary Whitta and unofficially Will Smith too.  Hey!  Where’s Jazzy?!  Sorry.  I couldn’t refuse.

After Earth 1

Kitai (Will’s son) wants to prove to his father, General Cypher Raige (The Fresh Prince), that he’s a brave soldier and earn his attention and most importantly his respect, but he ultimately fails to qualify as member of the Ranger Corps, a peacekeeping organization of the human settlement on Nova Prime.  Kitai’s mother encourages the General to understand that what their son needs most in life is a father, not a militaristic atmosphere or upbringing.  We also learn through a series of flashbacks, that I won’t ruin for anyone, that something bad happened to Kitai’s sister many years ago.  You know what they always say.  You can run, but you can never hide from your past.  That same principle applies here, safe to say.

Now the General decides to take his son on a trip with him, but the not the ordinary kind of time you and your dad probably spend together fishing.  During the trip, Kitai learns about the very dangerous cargo the ship is transporting, a seemingly unstoppable alien creature known for its deadly encounters with humans, and let’s just safely say you kind of already know from the trailers that all doesn’t bode well for the entire ship and crew as it crash lands on…bingo…Earth…a very inhospitable Earth, to say the very least.  Everything is harvested and manifested now to kill humans on the planet.  The temperature changes erratically during the day just like it does in Cleveland, Ohio and even the atmosphere is nearly impossible to breathe in without the help of some slick pharmaceuticals.

After Earth 3

So our story really begins now in the heart of Act 2 where Kitai and his father must work together (I won’t say how) to retrieve an emergency beacon from the tail of the plane that crash landed oh so far away (think Lords of the Rings far…oh okay…maybe not that far…haha).  They must deal and make peace with the ever changing climates, the dangerous animal species that ordinarily look so cute and cuddly and of course that pesky alien creature.  We almost forgot about him, eh?  But most importantly…it’s a matter of life and death for if they don’t succeed in reclaiming the lost beacon they will surely persih in this hostile environment.  There’s a lot I’m not telling you here, but that’s the point.  I want you to see this one and check it out…IF you’re still curious.  Why?   Well, remember I said the story was a tight and contrived screenplay above that followed the rules of a good story?  I meant it!  I think what makes this movie tick, in addition to the heartwarming and contrasting abrasive relationship between the father and son tag team, is that the stakes are high.  They are real high!  And we are constantly reminded of that almost like you are in a heist film.  You have a timer.  You have obstacles.  Obtaining that prize is a matter of life and death.  How much more danger do you want?  Now don’t get me wrong.  I did not say this was an outstanding film.  It’s plausible for the extremely low expectations I went in with.  I just liked counting the ways it hit every beat in the screenplay formula.  And I think we all can agree, it’s way better The Hangover Part III.

After Earth 4

That’s about what you can expect here.  Don’t let that M. Night moniker tag dissuade you like it almost did me in.  He’s idle and in check here.  Trust me.  That’s a good thing.    People can say what they want about Will and son, but Smith Sr. is stoic throughout and the youngster…well let’s just say he can act and react better with his CGI laden environments than both Natalie Portman and Hayden Christensen combined.  How’s that for taking names?  I guess what I’m really trying to say here is don’t be scared of this one.  If it interest you, then I whole heartedly recommend taking the family out to see this.  It’s a great father and son, coming of age adventure that I believe is suitable for the whole family (even the younglings despite some animal killings…nothing they haven’t seen in The Lion King though).  I don’t remember hearing one swear word.  Now don’t get me wrong, it’s no Oblivion (although I did hear some musical cues in there), but what movie is this year so far?  Any takers for Man of Steel?  I hope so!  LOL.  Now go!  You have a lot of choices this weekend at the theater (that is if you haven’t seen the 6th Fast and Furious film yet), but if you are looking for something to occupy your your pre-teen, adolescent child’s(or children’s should that be the case) mind with, After Earth is a good way to spend 100 minutes with them.  I guess that’s what I’m trying to say in a long about way.  Haha.  And if you’re a Will Smith fan…then you already know what to do.  You listening, Howard?  It got a round of applause at the press screening.  People just don’t clap for no reason at all, especially if they hate something, right?  Whatever.  You determine your own destiny.  I’m just going on record saying I didn’t hate it.  That’s all.  Enjoy!

After Earth Poster

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Owner/Writer/Reviewer/Editor, Dreamer, Producer, Agent of Love, Film Lover, Writer of Screenplays and a Devoted Apostle to all things Ford Mustangs (the real ones with V8's!). Some of my favorite films include FIGHT CLUB, MOULIN ROUGE, THE DARK KNIGHT, STAR WARS alongside television shows such as SEINFELD, 24, SANFORD & SON and even the often loathed in the geek community BIG BANG THEORY. Outside of my three lives I live I also enjoy spending time with my girlfriend and our three girls (of the furry kind).

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