After Earth (2013)

Hey Jaden! Welcome to Urf!

During a post-apocalyptic Earth, a father and son (Will and Jaden Smith) find themselves stranged and without a sense of direction after a crash landing. With the father critically injured, it’s up to the son to embark on a dangerous journey so the duo can return safely home. However, what the son doesn’t know is that the world isn’t what he thought it was, and all of the beautiful wonders that were once there, are all gone and feature madness and panic in-place.

After seeing all of the happenings, all of the chicks in the waters, and the airbenders that just so happen to be last, I have finally come to my destination: seeing M. Night Shyamalan’s recent-movie. And after all of those barf-fests, I have to say: this one is not as bad as those others. Hell, even with all of them combined, it’s still better (seriously, the three scores added up are less than 5). Then again, me taking a bath with my rubber duckies for an hour and a half is probably better too, but coming from the dude who’s name has came to be followed by shrieks of fear of horror; it’s a step in the right direction.

Not the best step, but still a step nonetheless.

That said, there is a lot here that doesn’t work as well as it should. Take the plot, for instance. Basically, this whole movie is just seeing if Lil’ Jaden can get from point-A-to-point-B, as he steps through obstacles, finds foes in his way, and eventually begins to run out of health-packs, that will help him stay alive on the quarantined-Earth. Instead of sounding like an actual movie with real character development and drama, it all feels like a video-game where we are just watching somebody else play for 90 minutes, not hand over the controller, and make us watch because he’s the one who pays the cable bill every month. Yeah, I know dicks like that, and that’s what I felt like when I was watching this movie. So much so, I honestly expected there to be a little box up at the top of the screen, letting me know how much life I had left, and when I could use my “Turbo Boost”.

"You fuck this business opportunity, you're grounded."
“You fuck this business opportunity, you’re grounded.”

It wouldn’t have honestly been so bad neither, had the movie been as thrilling as you’d expect from M. Night; but it just wasn’t. You know how everything’s going to turn out just by the sugar-coated feel tone and feel of this movie; no real twists and turns come to play, which is especially surprising for M. Night; the characters are thinly-written; and the rummages that are left of Earth that these two are stranded on, is terrible-looking with it’s cheap CGI, uninteresting use of special effects, and a setting that didn’t feel like a huge part of the world, but just a little part of the woods that I could easily find for me and my buds to drink at. Usually, it doesn’t bother me when the film has cheep-CGI and doesn’t have anything new or original to show me when it comes to delivering it’s action, but at least make me feel something, if anything at all!

The characters aren’t really worth caring about or rooting for, even if the movie totally twists your arm to do so. And by “the movie”, I mean Will Smith his damn-self! I get that Will wants the best for his kid, Jaden, and to be honest; the kid isn’t all that bad of an actor. Sure, he’s not as strong or as charismatic as a presence of his daddy, but the kid’s got spark that could eventually turn into a whole bunch of fire, which, in a way: could almost make him close to being his daddy. However, only time will tell with this one, but somebody should definitely tell that said daddy so!

The problem with this movie isn’t just that it’s weak at trying to make us care, it’s that about 90% of it is dedicated to watching Jaden run around, sprint, look scared, be brave, and feel no fear, which is fine for what it is, but then he starts talking, and emoting, and expressing emotions, and trying to carry this flick, and it just does not work. The movie would have been fine had they given the flick to anybody else in the world, but this kid is not that person as he can not put this flick on his back, and get us along for the ride. He feels like a flat hero, that has the same intentions as any hero we’ve ever seen before, and it leaves a bad taste in your mouth because you know none of that shit matters to Big Will. He just wants to give his son the chance to get out there and noticed for the whole rest of the world, so that they too, can latch on to the charm and likeability that he once, and still has to this day. It’s just a shame that it didn’t quite work out like Big Will had planned, because this kid definitely seemed like he was trying. Maybe a bit too hard, but at least

I’ll give him an ‘A’ for effort. Okay, maybe an ‘A-‘. Yeah, that feels about right.

As for Will, the dude’s still fine for what he has to do with the limited-time he’s given. Granted, half of the movie is dedicated to him just telling Jaden what to do, as he lays there in agony and pain, waiting for his damn leg to heal. But even through all of the dullness, Will still does fine and shows us why we all love him so much in the first place. It does feel like this guy could be doing more with this movie, rather than just handing it over to his son, but at least we weren’t witness to another one of his yells. Thank the heavens for that.

In a couple years, "The Lizard King" will be an appropriate nickname.
In a couple years, “The Lizard King” will be an appropriate nickname.

Also, can somebody please tell me what the fuck was up with those accents of theirs? It was like a mixture between French and English, even though they still had that American-spunk to them. Didn’t quite get it, and sort of made the performances a bit worse.

However, with all of this shit being said, I still have to say that I enjoyed myself through a portion of this movie, and I think you can too if you just throw down your expectations a bit. After seeing all of M. Night’s true-stinkers over the past week or so, I’ve come to realize that this dude may never, ever have the chance to come back and show the world what true skills as a film maker he has. But I still do think that his chance lies somewhere over the rainbow, one that is very, very far away and nearly-unreachable. But still: he may be able to get it one of these days and achieve his dream and true vision. He has not achieved that one bit with this movie, but (and it is a BIG one), the man at least seems to be having fun with this movie, and allowing us to join in a bit too. It is nowhere near being perfect whatsoever, but compared to what M. Night’s done in the past decade: it’s almost a near, freaking masterpiece.

Consensus: The plot to After Earth takes it down a whole bunch of notches that it nearly dies from it’s own pain, but it’s better than what we’ve seen recently from M. Night, and it’s glad to see him at least enjoying the work he’s putting out on-display for all of us to see and rather have fun with. Could have been a hell of a lot better, but if this is as good as we are going to get for now: I’m content. For now!

5 / 10 = Rental!!

Alright, Will. Enough with the serious face. You're the Prince of Bel-Air!
Alright, Will. Enough with the serious face. You’re the Prince of Bel-Air!


  1. So I guess you and M. Night Shagabooboo aren’t done quite yet… one more stinker and it’s over?

  2. Good review. I enjoyed the film a little better than I think you did. I read the prequel novel called A Perfect Beast and I think that doing that helped fill a few of the plot holes you talked about. I know that one shouldn’t have to read a book before going to see a film. I also agree that it is a step in the right direction for Night.

  3. Good review! I can’t say I’ll see this movie, it looks quite bad. I haven’t liked ANYTHING M.Night’s done since Signs.

  4. mm…….damn it. My attendance to this flick was really up in the air. Now it’s down on the ground, shaking…quivering. Begging for mama. I’m staying away. Thanks, and good review! Hahah loved that Will Smith video bit.

  5. You know you’re a bad director when even the studio is reluctant to include your name in it’s advertising.

  6. […] “The plot to After Earth takes it down a whole bunch of notches that it nearly dies from it’s own pain, but it’s better than what we’ve seen recently from M. Night, and it’s glad to see him at least enjoying the work he’s putting out on-display for all of us to see and rather have fun with” – Dan The Man’s Movie Reviews […]

  7. Haha, I’m so glad someone had an M. Night Shyamalan marathon so I didn’t have to. Really though, I can’t imagine that anything would be worse than The Last Airbender or The Happening. It’s just a shame that Shyamalan had to drag Will and Jaden Smith down with him this time.

  8. I haven’t seen the Lamb awards results but tell me you won many. There can’t be a writer associated with the Lamb that writes as many reviews as consistently as you! Well done on another good read by the way. I haven’t yet seen After Earth but everything I’ve read and seen tells me to wait for it to appear on TV. I once loved Shyamalan but he’s lost me as a fan in recent years. I’m not sure a film written by Smith and his son is the sort of movie to turn that trend around.

  9. Nice fair review, Dan. I actually enjoyed this a lot more than a lot of people, but I’ve seen a ton of people just unfairly trashing the hell out of this, so I’m glad to come here and see you give it its fair, proper due. It wasn’t great, but still, definitely a step in the right direction for Mr. Shyamalan. 🙂

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