After Earth

Director: M. Night Shyamalan

Starring: Jaden Smith, Will Smith, Zoe Isabella Kravitz, Sophie Okonedo

Written by: Gary Whitta, M. Night Shyamalan and (story) Will Smith.

Running Time: 100 mins

Cert: 12A

Release date: 7th June 2013

Could someone please stop giving M. Night Shyamalan money to make any more movies. His films are getting worse and worse. The man who gave us The Sixth Sense and Unbreakable hasn’t made a decent film since that Bruce Willis/Samuel L. Jackson flick. If you think I am wrong, let me list them: Signs, The Village, Lady In The Water, The Happening and The Last Airbender. The latter being an absolute disaster to the point of losing so much money, Shyamalan hasn’t been behind the camera since 2010. Maybe he should have stayed away because this sci-fi adventure is possibly the dullest thing I have sat through in years. It makes John Carter looks exciting.

One thousand years after leaving an apocalyptic Earth, to live on a familiar planet that is overrun by blind monsters that track down the humans through their fear. Ghosters (men who can control their fear and so are unseen by the creatures) are their only hope. General Cypher Raige, the best Ghoster around, has one last mission, to transport a creature to another world. He takes his 13 year-old son, Kitai, in order to bond with him but a meteor shower forces their craft to crash land, leaving Cypher badly injured and unable to move so his son must find the tail of their craft to get a safety beacon. The planet they have crashed on is earth, now an uninhabitable place full of deadly creatures all out to kill. Can Kitai get to the tail and save them?

Frankly I didn’t care. This unoriginal adventures lacks that important thing that adventures should have: any form of excitement. We spend most of the film watching Kitai running away from badly realised CGI creatures while Cypher sits and speaks utter nonsense to inspire his young protege.  Shyamalan could have created an blast of a sci-fi film, if he had added humour or any real form of peril but it’s all so by-the-book. It isn’t anything we haven’t seen before in films like Planet Of The Apes.

It doesn’t help that he has a man with real star charisma like Will Smith, just sitting in a room spouting dribble. Smith is a fun film star who can make even the most routine film seem so much better (look at Hitch, for example, a run-of-the-mill rom com that is actually more entertaining that it should be, thanks to Smith). Shyamalan stops him from showing that light side, making him deliver his line in a deep, droning voice and keeping him immobile. So it’s left to mini Smith, Jaden, to do all the running, jumping and shouting. Jaden, however, doesn’t have the same charm that daddy has, so heaving the whole film on his young shoulders is hard going for him. With his face looking constantly worried (he’s going to have frown lines on his forehead forever!), it’s a valiant attempt by the youngster but it’s not enough.

At 100 minutes, it seems like its going on for hours. I think at one point I did find myself dosing off, not from tiredness but from complete boredom. This is a very boring film. There’s one moment when the film seems to lift, when young Jaden jumps off a cliff and is chased by an eagle but that moment passes quickly and then it’s back to more pointless conversations, more running, more sucking of white Jammie dodgers (the breathe controllers look exactly like white biscuits with orange jam) and nothing else. When the finale finally arrives, there was the sound of sighs from the audience that they had survived such a dull film.

With so many great summer blockbusters out there and proving that even with the biggest budgets you can make a terrific piece of entertainment (Star Trek Into Darkness, Iron Man 3) this lifeless film proves that no matter how much money you have, if you don’t have a strong script or a director who is so self indulged, it’s never going to be any good. I went in with low expectations and those expectations were met!


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