“After Earth” Is Visually Stunning, Lacks Story

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HOLLYWOOD—For generations we have all imagined what other life forms live beyond our existence, whether Earth is the only inhabitable planet.  “After Earth” provides audiences with a glimpse of that ideology.  This science fiction adventure stars Will Smith and Jaden Smith as Cypher and Kitai Raige, father and son.  Both are now living on the planet better known as Nova Prima, after a series of unexplainable events that has left many to flee the planet Earth.

Audiences may view the picture as having an identical relationship between Will and Jaden in real life, as Cypher is a disciplined man hoping to teach his son about the importance of responsibility and maturity.  To ensure that his son does not falter down the wrong path, Cypher decides to take his son on a bonding trip to Earth, but in the midst of their travels an asteroid causes the ship to crash leaving Cypher and Kitai as the only survivors on a planet where evolution is at an all time high.

I was a bit surprised to discover that M. Night Shymalan, the man behind the greatest twist of all-time “The Sixth Sense” helmed the picture as both a director and writer.  Shymalan’s career path has been quite bumpy since “The Sixth Sense” with flops like “The Village,” “Lady in the Water” and “The Happening.”  The father-son bond in “After Earth” is nothing unusual, audiences has seen it time and time again.  What would have been a nice transition is to have the son become a bit more mature than the father and see how that plays out on a desolate planet.

In terms of story, the picture is nothing spectacular, but on a visual front it’s appealing to the eyes.  The spectacle of seeing gravity move against its will and the creatures that are now dominating the planet are awesomely captured on camera by the director. Smith does an exceptional job with his character, while his son Jaden appears to be forcing the acting in my opinion.  We already know in real life the characters are indeed related, but it doesn’t translate as fresh characters on the screen; I still saw Jaden Smith, not Kitai Raige, which is a pity.

“After Earth” similar to the Tom Cruise sci-fi exploratory tale “Oblivion” presents, a ‘new’ Earth.  As spectators, we’ve seen countless interpretations of what that may be which is interesting to watch, but we have yet to see a story that is as captivating as the visuals presented on the screen.

By LaDale Anderson