Friday, 7 June 2013

Review: After Earth

World of Blackout Film Review

After Earth Poster

After Earth (Spoilers)
Cert: 12A / 100 mins / Dir. M. Night Shyamalan

Here's a spoilery plot synposis: A spaceship crashes on a planet and that planet is The Earth and Little Will Smith needs to get to a thing and become a warrior and fight a creature and then he gets to a thing and becomes a warrior and fights a creature while Big Will Smith watches on the television and attempts to rewire his leg.

This takes over an hour and a half.

So, once the extras have been killed off and sent home for the day, the adventure-proper begins. Big Smith and Little Smith are separated, kept in touch by a temperamental comm-link system. This results in each actor playing intercut solo scenes for the rest of the film. Big Smith can do this. Little Smith can not. Their performances are interspersed with flashbacks, exposition, and a series of Deus Ex Machina gadgets that would make 60's-era Batman's utility belt envious. There's also the pointless addition of some magic Jammie Dodgers which contain liquid air, or something. A voiceover at the start (Little Smith) explains how every plant on Earth somehow stops producing the right kind of oxygen or something, hence the Jammie Dodgers, but a combination of the weird accent*1 and bunch of pseudo sci-fi terms meant I pretty much skipped over that bit. In fact, it's odd that a film which contains so much downtime and exposition left me wondering what the hell was going on, quite so often.

The biggest problem, for me at least, is that it's all so fucking dull. The only thing actually 'at stake' throughout the whole film is the life of the two inherently unlikeable central characters. And since I honestly didn't care if they lived or died, all dramatic tension went out of the window at the beginning. Big Smith is a cold, distant father, a by-product of years of military service and a technique called 'ghosting' whereby shutting down all emotion prevents the body from emitting pheromones, giving a tactical advantage over the human-hunting Ursa*2 beasts. Little Smith, on the other hand, is a fearful snivelling cadet, eager to please his father but not equipped with the prowess or experience to do so. Having these two characters realise that they need to essentially change places in order to connect in the middle should be the backbone of the film; but instead it's like watching someone play a very generic video game with an invincibility cheat on.

Other than some interesting production design (is it any wonder their spaceship crashed, when it looks like the inside has been made out of bamboo, plastic bags and toilet-paper?), there's little to hold the attention, here. Despite the super-evolved leeches, baboons, tigers and eagles, the over-riding feeling is that none of this matters.

Jaden Smith takes 100 minutes to prove that neither charm, charisma nor acting ability are passed on genetically. Stop now, Smiths. Stop.

Is the trailer representative of the film?
Not really. The trailer makes it look like something might happen.

Did I laugh, cry, gasp and sigh when I was supposed to?
I yawned. Does that count?

Does it achieve what it sets out to do?
I shouldn't imagine so.

Pay at the cinema, Rent on DVD or just wait for it to be on the telly?
Honestly? None of these.

Will I think less of you if we disagree about how good/bad this film is?

Will I watch it again?

Is there a Wilhelm Scream?

And because you won't be happy until I've given it a score...

And my question for YOU is…
Why, though? Seriously, why?

*1 The accent's a sort of half-Texas, half-New-England drawl that seems to get forgotten about half way through the film. Thankfully. Although the damage is done, by then.
*2 No, they're not bears. They're more like the flea-creatures from Cloverfield. Yeah, I know that 'Ursa' would suggest bears. Will Smith wrote the story. He called his own character 'Cypher Raige', for fuck's sake, what chance do the Generic Sci-Fi Creatures have?

• ^^^ That's dry, British humour, and most likely sarcasm or facetiousness.
• Yen's blog contains harsh language and even harsher notions of propriety. Reader discretion is advised.
• This is a personal blog. The views and opinions expressed here represent my own thoughts (at the time of writing) and not those of the people, institutions or organisations that I may or may not be related with unless stated explicitly.

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