Thursday, December 12, 2013

After Earth

So, yeah, I know. After Oblivion, why would I want to and watch After Earth?
Either it was some weird form of masochism or it was Will Smith.
Actually, it was Will Smith and all the bad stuff said about his son because of the movie. I needed to see, okay! Sometimes, you just have to know, like when someone says, "This tastes awful! You try it," and you do. You're thinking, "Surely, it can't be that bad," but, then, it is, and you get mad at the person offering you the taste even though he told you it was going to be bad.

And, wow, After Earth was bad. So bad.

And, you know what, I'm not even going to talk about the stupid science in this movie.

I lied.

In one of the most ridiculous scenes I've ever witnessed in a movie, Cypher (Will Smith) gets up from his seat and places his hand against the interior hull of the spaceship he's in. He goes to the cockpit and tells the pilots that he feels gravitons and wants to know what's going on. This is like saying, "Hey, I feel some neutrinos; what's up with that?" Anyway, there's a field of asteroids nearby, and, sure enough, when they check, they find there's a sudden buildup of gravitons happening, and Cypher tells them to be careful because the asteroids might suddenly explode. Predictably, the graviton levels start to drop... just before the asteroid field spontaneously explodes. Because that's what asteroids do when they're sitting around in space; they spontaneously explode. The ship is forced to crash land on Earth, abandoned by mankind 1000 years prior.

Cypher and his son, Kitai, are, again predictably, the only survivors of the crash, but Cypher is badly wounded, which sets up the contrived scenario where Kitai has to go trekking across the planet to get to the other part of the ship to fetch a homing beacon. He has to trek across the planet on which "every living thing has evolved to kill humans." Oh, and climb an active volcano. No, wait, I don't just mean active; I mean actively active. As in, it's in the process of erupting. Because that's such a great idea. And I won't even go into the part where he has to fight the alien that they brought along with them, another thing that has evolved or been engineered "just to kill humans."

The very first thing that happens to Kitai when he leaves the one end of the ship is that a spider crawls on him. But this spider that has evolved "just to kill humans" doesn't hurt him. And, of course, none of the plants hurt him. But here's the thing: 1000 years ago all of the animals on Earth were basically the same as they are now. 2000 years ago, they were basically the same. 5000 years ago, they were basically the same. 10,000 years ago, they were basically the same. Yet, 1000 years in the future, all of the animals have evolved "just to kill humans." And we see some significantly different animals, like some kind of saber-toothed tiger, on this future Earth. And, I'm sorry, I have to call "Bullshit!" How about adding some science to your science there.

And I'm not even going to go into the physics involved in a bird no bigger than Kitai flying off with him. I'm just gonna say "bullshit!" again. I'm also not going to go into how the entire planet freezes over every night and, yet, remains lush and green. I don't even have a word for that, because bullshit doesn't cover it.

Now, I haven't seen The Happening, but I do know what it's about, and After Earth struck me as nothing more than a bad sequel to a bad movie. Another low for M. Night. The bad thing here is that Will Smith brought Shyamalan into the project, not the other way around.

So, yeah, the original story idea was Smith's, but it involved a car crash in the woods in which the father is injured and the son has to go for help, and he should have just stuck with that story. But he decided he wanted to go sci-fi with it, so he hired a guy who wrote a script then went to Shyamalan with the script who also worked on the writing of the script and what Smith ended up with was a disaster that should have crashed in the woods and been left there.

I mean, not only is there no science in the science in the sci-fi movie, but they stripped out of Cypher Raige (yeah, really? he needs a name like "Raige"?) everything that makes Will Smith an enjoyable actor. Cypher is nothing more than the stereotypical emotionless military character out of touch with his son. Of course, Smith didn't want the movie to be about him; he wanted it to be about his son. This was to be the movie to give Jaden a foothold into his own career of action stardom.

And that's the second reason I wanted to see After Earth. I liked Jaden in the remake of Karate Kid, but he got slammed pretty hard for his performance in Earth, and I wanted to know if it was justified. After watching it, I'm not sure. Based on his performance in Karate Kid, I'd like to say his performance in Earth is due to bad directing (because his father certainly delivered one of the worst (possibly the worst) performances of his career), but it's hard to know with only one other movie to compare against. He certainly didn't help the movie any, though, and his scene where he stands on the cliff and yells at his father through his communicator was almost painfully awful. But I really want to give him the benefit of the doubt and blame it on Shyamalan, who hasn't made anything watchable in over a decade. I guess we'll just have to see what happens. Assuming Jaden Smith gets another chance. A movie that crashes and burns as hard as this one did can kill a career.


  1. I imagine this is one movie we will agree on. Haven't seen it, but I will eventually watch part of, just to know.
    Animals will certainly not change that much in a thousand years. Active, active volcano? Should I just call Mike and the Bots and have MST3K ready to help me watch this film?
    Oh, and The Happening? Don't. Really. It's bad. Yeah, you just have to know now, don't you?

  2. Oh, and there is a RiffTrax for The Happening. I recommend downloading it before viewing. You might not survive the movie otherwise.

  3. Yeah, I didn't have any real desire to see this after seeing the trailer. Not sure if they need to be doing father-son movies (although I loved The Pursuit of Happyness (spelled wrong on purpose in the film title, right?)). Thanks as always for the thorough review!

  4. Hang on... got to check the gravitons here.... yep, there good, I held out my hand and everything. No exploding things in my vicinity this morning.

    That is really pretty awesome. Makes me want to watch. I won't, but I kinda do, now.

    And I'm stunned that Wil brought in Shyamalan. Hasn't he seen his previous movies? All I'd do is pop in the Last Airbender and leave the room for anyone that doubts how awful something can become. That was one of the worst movies I can recall ever sitting through.

    So, it makes me wonder if Wil wanted this thing done, and worked his way down his checklist of dream directors before he found one willing to take his script and turn it into a movie. If so, he must have been pretty far down his list. I'd probably be looking at directors of tv shows or commercials before I turned to Shyalaman.

    Nothing personal against the guy, I just really don't understand how someone can make something as bad as The Last Airbender movie.

    You know, I think it would have been cool if he's licked his finger first, then held it up in the cockpit air and checked for gravitons.

    In space.

    To detect possible exploding asteroids.

    My god. Did I just type that? I have to see it, I have a hard time believing anyone outside of an old Flash Gordon serial could try for that sort of thing. I'm stunned.

  5. Really if humans have been gone for 1000 years why would anything evolve to kill them? It sounds like ridiculousness piled on top of ridiculousness.

  6. This was another one of those movies my hubby decided to watch one day, "just because". I tried to watch it but lost interest less than thirty minutes into it and opened up my laptop instead.

  7. You mean like I smelled fresh horseradish in a jar and it nearly knocked my head off any my mother didn't believe me so she sniffed at the far too??

    Guess I will not try that with this movie.

  8. Maybe we should start a "terrible movie review" blog hop. I just made my way through "Stargate" with my son and felt like I needed to soak my entire head in a vat of bleach afterward. (He liked it OK, but he's 12.)

    I will have to give this one a miss, then. Which is too bad, because ... Will Smith. (sigh)

    Too true about Shyamalan. :(

  9. I have yet to see a good review of this movie, and you touched on all the parts I suspected would be the reason it was so disliked.

    Will Smith being Will Smith, Jaden will get another chance and another probably.

    I went and looked up gravitons and did some reading. They are, of course, hypothetical, but if they exist they would be extremely difficult to feel; one article suggested that a detector with a mass the size of Jupiter would pick up one every 10 years or so.

    More importantly, gravitons are what are supposed to explain gravity as a part of quantum mechanics; of the four major forces, only gravity has no elementary particle known to associate with it. But if there ARE gravitons, it would suggest that a collection of them would not EXPLODE, but would instead create a black hole via an excess of gravity or mass in a localized area.

    Had they used real science extrapolated from theories, Will Smith would have never detected the gravitons and the ship would have been sucked into a singularity from which no light or sound could escape, sparing everyone this movie.

  10. Gravitons? He feels gravitons? Is the big twist that he's actually a particle accelerator?

    It's a pity. Will Smith's original car crash idea could have been good. And Jaden smith probably will get another chance. His dad gave one to M. Night Shyamalan. He can probably do the same for his son.

  11. OMG, as much as I will watch ANYTHING Will Smith is in, I will now not watch this. M. Night hasn't made anything good since The 6th Sense. He peaked, and he's done. My kids were CRUSHED by how bad The Last Airbender was. They are die-hard fans of the cartoon series and were so disappointed they hardly talked after I picked them up at the theater. (It's almost impossible to make OYT NOT talk. Just not in his genes...)
    Thanks for the warning, and thanks Briane for the science booboos. As a sci-fi writer I'm appalled at their lack of science. I mean, we're not really allowed to disrupt physics and and stuff like that without a damn good explanation...
    Tina @ Life is Good

  12. "A movie that crashes and burns as hard as this one did can kill a career."

    Except that his father is Will Smith, and Will Smith still has pull (and beaucoups bucks), so Daddy can always make it happen.

    The whole time I'm reading your review I'm thinking the same thing Pat Dilloway thought--why would things evolve to kill humans if the humans were gone? I'm sure it was explained--badly--in the film. I'll be skipping this one, thanks.

  13. Alex: Yeah, active active. As in there was lava flowing down the slopes, and he was leaping amongst it.
    I have The Happening on my list, but I have not yet talked myself into enduring it.

    Jess: I really liked Pursuit, too (and, yes, the misspelling was purposeful), so I don't think the problem is them doing movies together. I think it's anything that Shyamalan puts his hand on.

    Rusty: The stuff I read said that Will really wanted to work with M. Night, which totally boggles my mind. Evidently, there is still some persistent legend that he's a good director, and, actually, he may be a good director, but he's a horrible story teller.

    If they had done that finger licking thing, it might have been good. That would have been hilarious.

    GP: I know! Which is why it made me think it was just an extension of The Happening since that's sort of what happens in that.

    Elsie: I would never watch it "just because." If it had been "just because," I would have turned it off after about 10 minutes.

    Jo: Yes! That!
    But, you know, if you need your sinuses cleared, that's the way to go.

    Stephanie: Wait, what Stargate? Some of Stargate is good. But the movie, the one with Kurt Russel, that was God-awful.

    There was a top 10 worst movie thing a while back, but something like that could certainly be re-visited. I certainly seem to be doing a lot more negative movie reviews than positive, these days.

    Briane: Yeah, see, that's what I'm saying. [I also looked up the details about gravitons before I started writing even though I knew what they were (I did not realize they were still hypothetical until I did my research, though).] What I want to know is if the gravitons will stick to my finger if I lick it and hold it in the air.

    Jeanne: I agree with that about the car crash. That sounds like a story I'd watch.
    And I'm sure Will will give his son another chance but critics ripped Jaden the proverbial new one, so I'm not sure they will be willing to give him another chance.

    Tina: I like Unbreakable. It wasn't great, but it was good. And there are aspects of Signs that I really like. But it's been a steep descent since then.

    JeffO: Actually, it wasn't explained at all. There wasn't even a real explanation as to why humanity left Earth, although I have to assume it was because the Earth was trying to kill them like in The Happening.

  14. LOL Your funny. I didnt think it was a bad movie. I would watch it again when it comes on TV. My 8 year old son LOVED it. He says it is one of his favorite movies. If I found it on blu ray for 10 bucks I would buy it for him but I wouldn't pay more

  15. I loved the review/rant. Logic holes in movies drive me CRAZY (and so I'm crazy a lot). I just watched part of some kung fu/gamer movie but turned it off after 2 ninjas faced off in a narrow hallway, one threw stars at the other, and the other blew them out of the air with his machine gun -- and left the ninja standing directly behind the stars completely unscathed. ACK!

    I liked The Happening though. I thought it was a cool premise. ;)

  16. Christina: I am quite certain that I could not sit through it again. Unless, like Rusty said, they inserted a part where Will Smith licks his finger and holds it up to detect the gravitons.

    Lexa: Was that G I Joe you're talking about? That sounds like the thing between Storm Shadow and Snake Eyes.

    Hmm... Well, I'll take your view on The Happening into consideration, but I'm still scared to watch it.

  17. This is the second time I can't go see a Will Smith movie because it apparently is awful, terrible crap, and I'm so bummed! I love him!

    The first one I couldn't see is I Am Legend, because of the dog thing, and now I can't see this one because of a bird thing, I hear? Plus I've heard nothing but terrible reviews. He has to get back on his game!

  18. RG: I don't remember the dog thing from Legend. It's been a while since I've seen it, though.

    I don't think the problem with either movie was him, though. Not his acting, at any rate.

  19. I don't want to just mimic the other commenters. But I had no idea After Earth involved Shyamalan. What the hell was Will thinking?
    I can't stomach blatant plot holes. Especially when SciFi fails at science. wtf.
    After having experienced your honesty here, I want to read your review on Catching Fire (because it's a movie I liked more than the book and it's received a ton of hype) and Hobbit 2 (because it's a lava-diarrhea dump from an Active, Active butthole on my favorite book of all time)

  20. David: And, see, a lot of people think the movie would have done better if they had marketed it as a Shyamalan movie. Evidently, people associate him -only- with Sixth Sense and forget or don't realize about all the crap he's made since then.

    My Catching Fire review is up. I'll do Hobbit 2 once I get a chance to see it.

  21. I've already heard so many bad things about this film that I have no real plans to watch it--not even to give it my own bad review. I've been avoiding most science fiction anymore and watching more old drama and musicals. They don't make movies like they used to. But they didn't have CGI back then either and maybe that was a good thing.

    Wrote By Rote

  22. Lee: You know, sometimes, it's actually fun to watch a movie you know will be bad just to get to do the review.

  23. A little late on this one, but I promised a comment, so here I am!

    I completely agree with your opinion on this one. There have been few movies I have been so terribly disappointed and frustrated by than After Earth (though "Riddick" recently was trying to outdo AE, it felt).

    So much of that movie was ridiculously stupid, and Will Smith playing an emotional inept father was particularly painful to watch, since the power of his acting has always come through his emotive lines and roles.

    Real shame.

  24. Alex: Yeah, that's not a role he's good in, but I could have forgiven that if the rest of the movie made any sense.