“After Earth” – Less Than an Afterthought

After Earth

After Earth (M. Night Shyamalan, 2013)

This is such a piece of crap or, to put it in polite language, worse than a complete mediocrity, that I just cannot motivate to write a review. Allow me to point you to the reviews of some professional movie critics, who have brilliantly articulated all that is wrong with the film:

Manohla Dargis of The New York Times

Joe Morgenstern of The Wall Street Journal

Christopher Orr of The Atlantic (this last one was sent to me by my friend Dan Gottheimer, and places a lot of the blame on Will Smith, rather than M. Night Shyamalan – I say, who cares who’s responsible?)

I knew from the opening unintelligible voiceover that we were in trouble. It’s pure garbled exposition, and reminds me of the kinds of fantasy worlds I used to create when I was a kid. What the hell is young Jaden Smith talking about? When I was a tyke, I liked to make up worlds and give characters and countries and planets silly names that had their roots in nothing – I dub thee Kamwutyforg, for example – and then my sister pointed out that the experience of reading my work would be more pleasurable if there were some logical consistency to the new universe, à la Tolkien. So I have very little patience when I see people just making junk up without trying to create a world that has some aesthetic to which it adheres.

I should have known better than to go see this in the first place, but it was a free press screening, so I figured, what the hey? I have always found Will Smith an appealing screen presence – loved him in the Men in Black films, for example, and found his geniality nicely played off of in (the first two thirds of) HancockBut in I, Robot he exhibited the first signs of movie-star ego with that mess of a vanity project, and the trailers for this new film showed signs of a similar indulgence, compounded by the presence of his son.

I could go on, but I promised (myself) that I wouldn’t. I will just add, as you will have seen noted in some of the linked reviews, above, that I was not surprised to read about Will Smith’s connections to Scientology, since the only other science fiction film I have seen that is this bad was Battlefield Earth. I guess nutty ideas make for nutty movies. Go figure . . .

Watch at your own risk. You have been warned.

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