Updated: Nov 4, 2021
Can you return home again? This is a question that most of us face as we grow up and start our lives But what if by returning home I don't mean a trip to your childhood neighborhood or town?
Instead, you crash land on the planet people left a millennium ago? In the time since we humans were last there, everything has changed and nothing knows what you are. You are an alien and a threat. Now marooned, how do you survive...
After Earth (2013)
Directed by: M. Night Shyamalan
Written by: Gary Whitta and M. Night Shyamalan (screenplay); Will Smith (story)
Music by: James Newton Howard
Stars: Will Smith, Jaden Smith, Zoë Kravitz, Sophie Okoned
Watch on: Starz
Review Alpha 9.13.21.0012
After Earth is a story where a son follows in his father's footsteps, but that father is the military version of Michael Jordan. Desperate for his father's approval, Kitai Raige is a driven Ranger cadet hell-bent on performing better in the academy than his father, General Cypher Raige. However, despite his qualifications, Kitai is not promoted to Ranger because he does not grasp the bigger picture of what it means to be a Ranger and a man.
After breaking the news to his father, Kitai and Cypher argue where dad throws down the hammer. After settling down, Cypher informs Kitai that he will be accompanying Cypher on his final training mission before retirement. The training mission: go off-world and practice the art of "ghosting" to easily kill an Ursa, a creature released by an alien species with the intent to defeat humans on their new home world.
However, they are forced into a crash landing on a quarantined planet. After assessing the damage, a mortally injured Cypher informs Kitai that for them to be saved, Kitai will have to trek to the tail section of the craft to retrieve a beacon. However, there are two potentially deadly issues between Kitai and the tail section.
First is the unknown whereabouts of the Ursa. There is no trace of the creature that was brought aboard. The three likely outcomes are (1) it was killed in the crash, (2) that it is alive but badly hurt and likely incapacitated, or (3) it is alive and roaming free. Since Kitai has not been trained in ghosting, this puts him at tremendous risk.
The other issue?
They have crash-landed on Earth. After a thousand years of no human activity, the planet has transformed to be lethal to humans. Every living creature is a deadly threat.
Katai begins his journey, and it is as dangerous as it sounds. During the trip, Katai is nearly killed by a group of baboons, leaches, a giant eagle, some lion-like cats, and the freezing temperatures at night. He manages to survive them all and arrive at the ship's tail, where he resupplies and finds the beacon. However, the signal cannot be sent from its location, so he must trek up a mountain.
Meanwhile, back at the crashed front of the ship, Cypher is barely hanging on. After an artery bypass fails, he starts succumbing to the effects of blood poisoning. All the while, he attempts to navigate Katai, which leads to father and son having a confrontation.
As Katai reaches the mountain, the Ursa, who tracks humans through the scent of their fear, attacks Katai. When all seems lost, Katai recalls his father's story about how he developed the ghosting technique. A now Zen Katai calmly kills the Ursa, sends the signal, and the two are saved.
Will Smith called After Earth the "most painful failure" of his career. "That was a valuable lesson for me a few years ago with 'After Earth,'" Smith said. "That was the most painful failure in my career."
I have to agree. I really like most Will Smith science fiction movies, even ones that aren't typically highly rated. Unfortunately, After Earth just couldn't deliver. While the effects are pleasing, especially the landscapes of an Earth healed from the presence of mankind, it just is a blah movie. Cypher and Katai are robotic in their performances, feeding into the stereotype that career military leaders are devoid of personality, as are their legacy children.
This movie is just wasted potential. It's too bad because it could have been something great.
Warp 2 on the SciFi drive.
Next Review: "Untitled Earth Sim 64"
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