Thursday, May 30, 2013

After Earth (PG-13/100 Min.)

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1000 years in to the future, humans are residing on a planet that is not Earth because they managed to make a real mess of it. Earth, I mean. General Raige takes his son, Kitai with him on a mission and, of course, bad things happen. They end up back on an Earth that wants nothing to do with them. Because the General is badly injured in the crash landing, Kitai is forced to seek help on his own. It is NOT a walk in the park!

So many different things happened in After Earth that should have made it a success but despite all that it seemed to be lacking something. I hate to even mention that because I am a huge fan of Will Smith. The story behind the General’s relationship with and attitude towards his son seemed to have a big hole in it. We’ll talk a little more about that later. I feel like saying nice things first.

Let’s begin with the scenery. I LOVED it! The city on the cliffs of their current planet is beautiful! The jungle that Kitai has to traverse on Earth is amazing too. I want to go where that was filmed and take all kinds of pictures. Especially of the waterfalls.

Several parts were predictable. Several were cheesy. And several just dripped with so much foreshadowing that you almost didn’t need to finish watching the movie. I did though. Because I’m cool like that.

I don’t need to talk up Will Smith much. Most people either like him or they don’t. He’s not usually an “in between” actor. He was very stereotypically military as General Cypher Raige. He gave orders and expected them to be obeyed by everyone including his family. It is implied that he blames Kitai for the death of his daughter (Kitai’s sister) but the movie doesn’t delve too deeply into that aspect of it. It’s almost an afterthought. When he does lighten up he’s very lovable.

Jaden Smith is Kitai Raige. He spends a good portion of the movie either scared or upset. The scared I definitely understand. He’s got to conquer his fears though in order to succeed. What I don’t get is how they made him seem scared and yet if someone was relying on me to run 60 miles through a not-so-friendly jungle so that I could “phone home” we’d all die. Mainly because the minute I saw even a hint of a bug, snake, angry monkey, etc. the mission would be over. Kitai, however, powered through. When he does throw a hissy fit because he’s upset with his dad it comes out of nowhere. Had more been shown about how home life was between him and his dad it may have been a little more understandable. Soon after Kitai sets off his journey something bad happens to which he responds with one of my favorite lines in the movie. “That sucked.” Yes, Kitai. Yes, it did.

There were some sad parts in the movie – one involving animals – but I handled it well. No crying for me this time although it was close when an unexpected ally repaid a brave act with the ultimate sacrifice. I’m getting kinda misty just thinking about it.

It’s almost pointless to break this down because, other than attacks by animals and a grody alien I couldn’t find a reason kids shouldn’t go see this. There was a very young boy at the end of our row and he seemed to handle it all well. I don’t recall any cussing/swearing. No sex or nudity. No alcohol or drugs. I know you’re wondering how anyone can make a movie without all that but they did. It was action-y but not super action-y. Make sense? No? Well, go see it and you’ll understand.

I’m having trouble deciding what aged children would be okay with this. You know what your kids can handle. We didn’t see any animals getting ripped apart but we saw the after-affects. Kinda gross. Oh! And there were a couple of cheap scares. That was so wrong! One of them was just a loud drum beat. I took my friend, Mac, with me and she and I both about jumped out of our skin because of that stupid drum. And then we laughed.

I called PT after the movie to see if she was going to go see it and tried to encourage her to do so but, based on the previews she’d seen, she had no desire to go. If you like Will Smith I would give it a chance. This was a completely different role than what we’re used to seeing him play. I don’t know if I would see this repeatedly but I will probably rent or own it in the future. Mac said she really liked it so now you know at least 2 people did.

P.S. There was nothing after the credits so feel free to hit the road when they start rolling.


Mike said...

If you are a person of color take your children to see this film
and discuss the concept of fear on the way home.

Let me tell you flat out #afterearth is the best film as it pertains
to Black male relationships to have emerged in a decade or more.

There is so much that is relevant to people of color in this film specifically in dealing with hostile environments and the importance of patience and poise and persistance. Most of all it showcases a truly unique and wonderful relationship between a Black Father and adolescent teenager, something we NEVER see when it comes to males of color. Most reviewers can not understand the importance of this film to people of color who are normally relegated to deadbeat roles, criminals, clowns or athletes. Take your kids. Take your kids. TAKE YOUR KIDS. So for once they can see that they are intelligent, successful, loving Black people in the future.This film demonstrates that people of color will be important, intelligent and impressive in the future, a very important thing for youth of all colors to witness.

As a media professional I could not recommend it more.

Tarisa said...

Mike, I understand your point but surely you see by now that not only has Will Smith blown through those old stereotypes but so has Denzel Washington, Halle Barry, Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer to name just a few. Oh! Alfre Woodard, Morgan Freeman...