Friday, January 31, 2014

Let's Review: After Earth


Welcome back to the Geekdom, I’ll be your Guide. When I watched the trailer for this film, I thought it looked really good, up until the point where M. Night Shyamalan’s name popped up. I’m fairly certain a lot of people had the same reaction I did. Not to insult Shyamalan, but he hasn’t made a really good film in a long time, some would argue a good film period. Despite Shyamalan’s track record, I decided to give this film a chance. Was my charity well spent? Let’s review After Earth.

The Negative

The architecture was very odd in this film. The buildings, ships, and various other things had the odd distinction of looking like a mixture of advance technology and shower curtains. At times this odd design choice would look rather beautiful especially on the buildings, at other times it just gave everything a public bathroom feel. I have to wonder the practicality of having a portion of your building’s walls be made out of white curtains when living on a planet full of alien predators.

The plot was a little predictable. “My father is the greatest warrior and I am his failure son” plot has been re-used a lot.  Shock of shocks if Jaden Smith’s character ends up performing great feats over the course of the film that end up making his father proud. It’s not something that I haven’t seen before and the film doesn’t really explore anything new with it.

The special effects used for the animals and the creatures were not always top notch. As a little spoiler, a large condor becomes a major plot point in the film, and it’s one of the most unrealistic looking condors I have ever seen. At times I swear it just looked like a stuffed bird that they propped against the set. The CGI creatures were also a bit glaring as they never really seemed to fit into their environment that well or interact with the humans realistically.

Will Smith, one of the most expressive and enthusiastic actors out there, gives the flattest performance I have ever seen. I understand that is the character he is playing. Will Smith plays a warrior with the profound ability to have no fear on the battlefield, which works great since the enemy predator can only see through fear. Just because he has no fear, doesn’t mean he doesn’t have any other emotions to offer. This performance was flat and downright boring at times; I really wish he would have been able to put some emotion into this character.

The Positive

While the CGI and effects for the various creatures was crap, the effects used for the advance technology was amazing. I loved the holographic medical technology that allowed Will Smith’s character to operate on himself, I loved the survival suit Jaden Smith’s character wore that would change colors as a warning device, but most off all I loved the liquid metal blade weapon. The various configurations and utilization methods that could be done with the weapon made one of the coolest survival tools and brilliant looking special effect of the film.

My father is the one who got me into film. My father was a big fan of movies. We maintain a tradition of going to the movies together every so often. When I saw this movie advertised, I thought that it might be a good father/son film to see and I was right. We had a wonderful time going to see this film together. Despite the flat performances, Will and Jaden Smith have wonderful chemistry together and make this film about the journey the two take. While I said the film doesn’t really explore anything new in the father/son plot, I will not say that what they presented was bad.

In Conclusion

This film really hits the middle ground. It doesn’t really tread any new ground but at the same time it doesn’t really present anything overly bad. I have seen worse from M. Night Shyamalan, but I have also seen a lot better. The same could be said for the special effects. Some were beautifully well done while others looked like cheesy props. Over all I had fun time going to the movies and would suggest for most that this just be a rental flick. 3.8 out of 5