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After Earth


Stars: Jaden Smith, Will Smith, Sophie Okonedo, Zoe Isabella Kravitz, Lincoln Lewis, Sacha Dhawan, Chris Geere, Isabelle Fuhrman, Kristofer Hivju, David Denman

Director: M Night Shyamalan

To be fair (in reality, not a useful position for a reviewer to undertake) this offering of expensive looking and glossy drivel isn’t as dreadful as director M Night Shyamalan’s last disaster, the unwatchable The Last Airbender, for which he took sole credit as writer. Here, at least, he gets to share the blame for the undernourished ‘Tarzan Goes Into Space’ screenplay with Gary Whitta and, most unfortunately, with star Will Smith who takes credit for the story. (I find it implausible, even by fame hungry Hollywood standards, that anyone else would want to take credit).

It’s been a thousand years since Mankind fled the Earth, leaving the planet to become home to evolved creatures with nasty attitudes. Now, unfortunately for senior Space Ranger Smith and his young son, played with little impact by his real-life son Jaden, they head into space in an attempt for father and son to bond again years after the lad suffered the trauma of seeing his sister killed by a monster.

And then the spaceship crashes. Survivor Smith Senior lies injured, bleeding and hardly bothering to act, dispatching would-be military man Smith Jr to go out and face dangerous creatures and moderately scary CGI in order to activate the signal beacon that will lead rescuers to save them…

Which, to nobody’s surprise, happens when Space corpsmen ultimately arrive to save father and son. Unfortunately they cannot save a film that is embarrassingly awful, despite some moderately interesting special effects creatures, and an impressive spaceship in flight to the show’s credit (but whose interior resembles something that has been assembled from left-over sets from a 1960s science fiction television series) . Smith Jr appears to be trying when called upon to become a space hero who saves the day, without generating anything resembling suspense or much in the way of excitement that would be worth paying for. Indeed, after After Earth, I would happily contribute a large sum to fund research into creating a fast-forward device for cinema viewing).

(Incidentally I’m unable to comment with any real knowledge on the influence, if any, of Scientology on After Earth. My only real knowledge of this particular minor filmmaking genre is that I suffered through John Travolta’s dire space show Battlefield Earth back in 2000 and found it equally rubbishy).

Alan Frank

USA 2013. UK Distributor: Sony. Colour by deluxe.
99 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 12A.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 2, Drugs 0, Swearing 0.

Review date: 07 Jun 2013