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    June 7, 2013


    Will Smith and M. Night Shyamalan team up for the latter latest directorial effort in the new sci-fi feature that sets a thousand year after human left the planet Earth for an unspecified reason. The recent trailer for the movie has been relatively shallow in detailing what After Earth is all about and the marketing effort is very light, if not weak. Unfortunately, the verdict from the Stateside is out and can be summed up negative reception from all ends, churning out to be one of the worst-reviewed movies of the summer. Clearly, the partnership stinks and fails to generate enough interest or love for the new movie. So here is my verdict, but is After Earth really that bad?

    Genre: Action/Adventure/Science Fiction/Fantasy
    Classification: P13
    Release Date: 06 June 2013
    Running Time: 100 minutes
    Distributor: Sony Pictures
    Director: M. Night Shyamalan
    Screenplay: M. Night Shyamalan, Gary Whitta
    Starring: Jaden Smith, Will Smith, Zöe Kravitz, Sophie Okonedo

    Plot: A crash landing leaves teenager Kitai Raige (Jaden Smith) and his legendary father Cypher (Will Smith) stranded on Earth, 1,000 years after cataclysmic events forced humanity's escape. With Cypher critically injured, Kitai must embark on a perilous journey to signal for help, facing uncharted terrain, evolved animal species that now rule the planet, and an unstoppable alien creature that escaped during the crash. Father and son must learn to work together and trust one another if they want any chance of returning home.
    The answer is not quite so and it does not stink as bad as many have shouted on the internet. Prior to the release of this movie, many wondered if After Earth will overturn the director’s fate. For the last few years, Shyamalan’s movies were practically poisons, often failed to score well among the critics and among the audiences. Retrospectively, I did mention on my rant the other day about how Shyamalan tends to screw up his movies, in five aspects – non-innovative twist, messy plot and characterizations, laughable dialogues, pacing and unsettling tone. But unlike Shyamalan’s past bad movies over the last few years, After Earth is partially saved by the fact that this movie has somewhat solid narrative plot and performances. But of course, it is neither a good movie nor a bad one. So to say, it is slightly mediocre at best.

    In After Earth, Cypher (Will Smith), a fearless Ranger Corps and his estranged son, Kitai (Jaden Smith) embark in a routine trip through the space when asteroid storm decimates the spaceship they are travelling. They survive but also on board of that particular voyage, a ruthless creature known as Ursa, specifically designed to hunt humans by smelling on their fear and is believed to have survive the crash too. It turns out that the planet they crash-landed is Earth, for which the human abandoned it more than a thousand years ago for some unspecified reason and now has evolve with hostile environment unsuitable for human’s survival. After Cypher’s wounded, it is up to Kitai to embark in a dangerous mission to retrieve the distress beacon to summon help.

    Nevertheless, After Earth has some noticeably good points in the pocket. The plot featured is indeed rich in narrative aspect and much focused on the materials it based on. Surprisingly, Jaden’s embodiment as Kitai fairs quite well and the character written suits him, but Jaden is still indecisive, derivative emotion and still unable to root on his role deep. Will Smith sits more as a supporting role, but his incapacitated role anchors the plot. Some of the key action-pieces are well-handled and engaging. Shymalan also infuses dark and tension moments for scenes involving Kitai vs. creature, which I find it works better around than before.

    However, even having a strong narrative plot does not mean everything and can be abysmal if the plot-holes are too imminent and hard to ignore. The plot-holes are ultimately distracting as those eventually destroying the continuity, pacing and story development as a whole, thus giving a very restricted and constrained experience. Coupled with the inability of the storyboard to move beyond into a large scale, it is proven by now that After Earth is critically hurting its own potential with the limitations. Even when some action scenes are well-made, the engagement is very brief and will likely to disappoint those who are hoping for more – what’s more when Will Smith is sitting outside of the danger, leaving his son alone!

    Overall, After Earth fails to emulate some of the good points from recent fellow apocalyptic sci-fi features like Oblivion, for which its cinematography is truly amazing. In the end, After Earth fails to give Shyamalan a good comeback as it is bogged down by various unevenness, setbacks and contradictions that limits its potentials. Good narrative plot not without major bugging plot-hole, strong but awkward performance and restricted landscape of the apocalyptic world make After Earth a wasted movie but an apologetic one.

    Story: 2.5
    Casts: 3.5
    Cinematography: 3.5
    Effects: 3.5
    GREEN-TEA-O-METER: 11.8/20.0

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