"Father and Son vs. Earth"
What You Need To Know:
AFTER EARTH is exciting and very intense at times. The movie is also structured well, with compelling and inspiring character arcs. However, it suffers throughout from a weak, incoherent backstory, sloppy direction, and wooden dialogue. That said, there’s a portion of AFTER EARTH that works really well. The son’s journey to find an SOS beacon is quite thrilling and enjoyable. The strained relationship between father and son is pushed to the extreme. Both have to deal with their own demons from a tragic past event. Their love and respect for one another, however, are strengthened during their ordeal. MOVIEGUIDE® advises caution for some intense sequences, violent images, and brief, nonsensical environmentalist content.
(B, H, FR, E, Ev, L, VV, M) Humanist Worldview and false religion of humans controlling their own emotions, courage, fear; some moral content stressing father should spend time with his son and relate; marred by the story’s environmentalist background that includes humans destroying their planet, and the planet “evolving” to a dangerous state, and carbon fuels is ridiculously mentioned as one of the possible causes of such a tremendous catastrophe, despite scientific evidence that this is probably impossible; one “d” obscenity; strong violence includes some strong violent images such as dead bodies hanging from trees with branches puncturing through, a pile of dead monkeys that were torn to pieces, an intense plane crash, a fight between a scary alien creature and our main character, a man seeks to fix his broken leg; no sexual content; no nudity; no alcohol; no smoking or drugs; and, a boy disobeys orders from his father and commanding officer in order to save them and a father isn’t very loving with his son, but the story resolves these things in the end.
AFTER EARTH is a science-fiction adventure that takes place 1000 years in the future. The natural elements of planet Earth have developed to the point where the planet is uninhabitable by humans. So, the humans leave earth and relocate to a planet called Nova Prime.
The movie stars Will Smith as Cypher Raige, a legendary general in the United Ranger Corps on Nova Prime. His son, Kitai (played by Will’s own son, Jaden) is training to follow in the footsteps of his father, but his reckless attitude keeps him from being promoted. When his father Cypher comes home from a long trip, his wife urges him to reconnect with their son, who is slowly slipping away. So, Cypher invites Kitai to join him on a trip to a nearby training facility in space.
On the way to their destination, their spaceship gets damaged by an asteroid field. The spaceship has to make an emergency landing on the closest planet, Earth. Before the spaceship can land, it splits in two and crashes. Kitai wakes up to see that only he and his father survived the crash. But, his father’s leg is seriously broken. Their only hope for survival is a beacon that’s in the other half of the ship, but it crashed more than 100 kilometers away.
So, Kitai must retrieve the beacon to save both him and his father. To do so, however, he’ll have to travel through dangerous terrain with man-eating creatures and natural elements that can kill him in seconds. Worst of all, the most feared beast known as the Ursa is on the loose. The Ursa is an alien creature bred to kill humans. Kitai must overcome his fear and face tremendous odds to save himself and his father.
AFTER EARTH is exciting and very intense at times. The creatures of Earth are a real threat to Kitai and Cypher. This part will fully captivate viewers. The movie is also structured well, with both compelling and inspiring character arcs. What AFTER EARTH lacks is a strong backstory and good direction. According to the plot, humans left earth because they failed to take care of it, but that doesn’t explain how Earth became such a dangerous planet with giant creatures. In addition to that, when an alien race also threatens the humans, it complicates the backstory even more. The direction is sloppy through much of the movie. For example, there’s some poor lighting and gimmicky camera movements, plus some wooden dialogue that seems straight out of a bad soap opera.
That said, a portion of AFTER EARTH works really well. Kitai’s journey to find the SOS beacon is quite thrilling and enjoyable. The strained relationship between Kitai and Cypher is pushed to the extreme. Both Kitai and Cypher have to deal with their own demons from a tragic past event. Cypher stresses that his son should be void of emotions, such as fear. However, their love and respect for one another is strengthened during their ordeal together.
Still, MOVIEGUIDE® advises a caution for some of the movie’s intense sequences and violent images, as well as brief environmental and evolution content. Happily, there’s only one “d” obscenity in AFTER EARTH, so the filmmakers should be commended for showing such restraint in this area. Less foul language will make AFTER EARTH more accessible to a broad audience. If only it was a better movie.