Will Smith certainly knows his way around summer sci-fi flicks. In fact, summer at the local bijou just wouldn’t be the same without Smith fighting aliens, robots or killer mutants. Enter “After Earth,” a sci-fi epic about a father and son whose spacecraft crash lands on a savage planet called Earth.
Oh, yeah. Forget to mention that in the future mankind has evacuated Earth to Nova Prime, because man has ruined the Earth’s environment. However, the Nova Prime inhabitants don’t like illegal aliens, so they unleash huge blind beasts called Ursa that track their prey through pheromones humans release when they’re afraid.
In this second on screen team-up of Smith and his son Jaden, Smith plays an interplanetary ranger Cypher Raige, a general in the United Ranger Corps. Raige is able to suppress his fear, which makes him invisible to Ursas. Raige becomes a legendary Ursa killer wielding a "cutlass" whose two ends morph into assorted blade combinations, by mastering a technique called "ghosting." You would think in the future they would have phasers.
Raige’s son Kitai (Jaden Smith), a Ranger in training, is struggling with the death of his sister Senshi (Zoe Kravitz) who was killed by a Ursa. He’s also striving to live up to his father’s legacy. When Raige returns home from a long mission, his wife Faia (Sophie Okonedo) convinces him to take Kitai along on an interstellar voyage in a father and son bonding type thing to transport a Ursa for training aspiring ghosters.
Of course the ship crashes on Earth after encountering a meteor storm, or this would be a very short movie. Raige suffers two broken legs, which forces Kitai to grow up quickly as he navigates Earth’s deadly terrain and predators to retrieve a rescue beacon located in the tail section of their spacecraft which separated during the crash, and of course avoid the Ursa who survived the crash.
Take away the CGI and “After Earth” is a generic shipwrecked father and son-bonding tale – a bit disappointing. The Ursa and Earth’s predators are low-budget CGI generated monsters. However, the biggest surprise was here’s an M. Night Shyamalan film without his signature twist. “Hey, wait a minute! I get it! That’s the twist!”
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