Jaden Smith in After Earth (2013)

There is No After This

After humankind were forced to escape from Earth they took up residence on Nova Prime where the fearless General Cypher Raige (Will Smith) returns home from his latest tour to be handed the disappointment that his son Kitai (Jaden Smith) has failed to become a ranger something he has longed to do as he wants to be great like his father. Despite disappointed Cypher takes Kitai with him on a mission which goes disastrously wrong and sees them crash land on the savage Earth where with Cypher seriously injured Kitai must make it across the rough terrain to locate their only hope, the beacon from their craft's tale.

Did you know the original concept for "After Earth" was to be a camping trip between a father and son which goes bad and whilst not an original concept I would bet a lot of money that the end result would have been a heck of a lot better than how "After Earth" turned out. Now there are some things which would have still been bad, I will get to those in a while, but the whole sci-fi aspect of computer telemetry, energy capsules and x-ray gizmos would not have ended up not only painfully commanding your attention but being corny. Yes the sci-fi aspect of "After Earth" is so poor that it is corny and for over half the movie it robs it off the survival aspect which would have been a lot more entertaining.

Will Smith in After Earth (2013)

But what all the sci-fi nonsense also does is distract from the underlying story surrounding Kitai trying to be great like his dad and Cypher being annoyed not just by his son's failings but by his own failings as a parent having become emotionless as a fearless warrior. There is also some back story surrounding a sister who I guess died which adds to the issues but it never once really explores them instead only going through the motions of working the story.

The trouble is that even if "After Earth" had been called a different name and went with the camping trip crisis storyline it would have still had problems. They would have been the acting because whilst Jaden Smith can handle roles which require him to move about and be a kid he doesn't seem to be able to handle those which require emotion and acting skills. Here for example his attempts to do anger and action hero end up coming across as a petulant, disobedient boy. And sadly Will Smith's character of the emotionless, tough father is wrong for him as it robs the actor of delivering warmth; it also robs him physically as with Cypher injured he doesn't get to move around.

What this all boils down to is that "After Earth" ends up a bad movie because of various issues and they range from making it sci-fi to the acting. It ends up making it often corny and sadly has none of M. Night Shyamalan's styling on it what so ever.