Is After Earth Really THAT Bad?

June 3, 2013 at 10:57 am

Is After Earth Really THAT Bad? | After Earth Review 2013

I woke up this morning and wrote my review for Now You See Me. I saw it on Saturday night with a few friends. Choosing a film that night was a bit of a tough call as it came down to After Earth vs. Now You See Me. Ultimately, we chose the latter and it was disappointing to say the least. The problem is, I think it could have been lose/lose if the reviews for After Earth are any indication.

I almost wrote a post called “5 reasons why I’m skipping After Earth” today.  I had a change of heart when I dug up a post I wrote about a year ago called “After Earth Battle: Will Smith’s Hits vs M. Night’s Flops“.  I decided to find out the answer that question for myself.

Currently, the film has a 12% rating on rotten tomatoes. By my calculations, (read: not a actual statistic) there is an 88% chance After Earth may surprise me…  I’m writing this on the subway. The movie starts in about 30 minutes…

Will After Earth be as bad as critics say?


Well….. That wasn’t great but it was a lot better than I expected. I read a couple dismal reviews that tore the movie to shreds. Here are a couple quotes:

“From its opening montage to its closing shots, After Earth comes across as an extremely generic effort written by an elementary school student.” (Examiner)

“The characters are emotionally neutered.” (Reel Views)

“After Earth is a wasteland riddled with cinematic trash.” (Hollywood Chicago)

I don’t think it’s a total loss but I would have a better time agreeing with critics if the Tomatometer was around 40-50% instead of 12%.

After Earth is essentially a story about a boy, Kitai, trying to live up to his courageous and respected father, Cypher. It’s 1000 years after humans left the Earth. On their new home, Nova Prime, they are attacked by aliens who use fear smelling…. Alien… dogs to hunt humans down.

It’s a simple setup with a lot of promise but the film quickly morphs into something different.  At first, we are shown a fascinating world but then the movie forgets all that and takes us on a journey elsewhere. After an asteroid accident, we find the Will/Jaden Smith duo stranded on Earth.  (Those damn asteroids have kick started many science fiction stories don’t they?)

His father seriously wounded, the boy must venture into the world humanity left behind, find a beacon and avoid an Alien dog they brought along for the ride.

They don’t mention the aliens who want to exterminate humans again. They don’t delve deeper into why humans abandoned earth in the first place. We really don’t learn anything new once the lengthy, exposition heavy opening ends.

We simply follow Kitai as he dodges bad CG monkeys, birds and other carnivorous beasts like these:

Of course, at the center of the story is a boy trying to free himself from fear and be like his father. A talent known as ghosting. Why? Because it literally makes you invisible to the alien attack dogs… Who are conveniently blind.  I think a lot of people will compare this plot device to the water used in the finale of Signs.

Full disclosure: Signs is one of my favorite movies of all time. It came along at the right time and inspired me. I love that movie.

I did not love After Earth. The movie looks nice, aside from bad creature effects but manages to provide less answers than Prometheus.  Approaching Signs from the minimal perspective of a family on a farm worked. But shrinking such a grand mythology in order to focus on the father/son relationship backfired in my opinion.  I would have rather seen Will Smith in action more and wound him in the third act.  Then let the son rise up and make his father proud.  Of course, that’s my opinion.

What I did like was the tension Shyamalan created throughout the film.  A particularly strong moment occurs when Cypher can see & hear his son but cannot communicate with him. This leads to an emotional moment when he sees his son’s growth for the first time. It’s a great moment.  There just weren’t enough of them to make the film truly memorable. But that doesn’t mean that it’s as horrible as they say.

I think, realistically, After Earth should probably sit around 50% or slightly below. Some people will like it and some people won’t. I think the movie lost 10% because of bad CG. It lost another 15% percent because of the main characters distracting accents. (Something you learn to live with as the movie progresses) I think the final 10-15% is lost due to M. Night Shyamalan’s damaged reputation.

His movies started out amazing and I’m the first to admit I was a massive fan of his early work. I’m also the first to admit that I haven’t really liked a movie he’s made since The Village.  Still, After Earth is the closest I’ve come to liking a Shyamalan film in years. It’s not a come back but he still has a fantastic eye for filmmaking and I hope he matches that talent with a worthy story soon.

Prediction: Shyamalan will announce his return to the supernatural ghost genre soon. Or he will write Unbreakable 2. It will be an effort to remind people what he was once capable of. I’m still interested to see what he does next.

As for Will Smith, who is credited with After Earth’s story, it’s unfortunate that his attempt to do a big budget movie with his own son has seemingly failed. A summer movie starring Will Smith is SUPPOSED to open at #1. I’m willing to give him a pass on this as he did get to make this with his son and he spends most of the movie in a chair pressing buttons.

After Earth will probably be labeled as another Shyamalan flop in the history books but I still think there are people who will connect with the material. I certainly wanted to see more but I expected something a little different. I would still recommend it if you were curious before the reviews came out. You never know which movies will surprise you.  I certainly didn’t see Signs coming.

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Movies That Changed Everything: The Complete 12 Part Series

March 30, 2012 at 9:22 am

Movies That Changed Everything: The Complete Series

I’m an aspiring filmmaker and like every filmmaker out there, I have a lengthy list of films that have inspired me along the way.

Movies  That Changed Everything is a twelve part series examining the films that changed the way I looked at movies forever.

The Shawshank Redemption

The Lord Of The Rings

The Matrix

Pulp Fiction

Pan’s Labyrinth

There Will Be Blood


A Few Good Men

The Sixth Sense

The Dark Knight

Good Will Hunting


What films inspired you?

10 Flicks: Box Office Favorites

January 21, 2012 at 8:39 am

10 Flicks Movie Lists

I’m a proud movie nerd.

We’ve covered that so it shouldn’t surprise anyone who reads this blog that I follow box office numbers closely.  The only place I go for box office information online is Box Office Mojo.

Recently, I was checking the all time domestic numbers and decided to see if I could narrow the top 100 down to 10.  Can you?

Click here to see the Top 100

So here are my 10 favorite box office moneymakers.

Honourable Mention: Avatar, 300, The Sixth Sense, Saving Private Ryan

Star Wars

Star Wars Episode 4

#4 – $460,998,007

I adore the original trilogy and enjoyed the prequels but A New Hope will always be my favorite. (Followed closely by Empire Strikes Back.)

XTRA | If I Could Only Recommend ONE Science Fiction Film



#9 – $403,706,375

It may not be my favorite superhero movie of all time but it certainly paved the way for some of the most entertaining movies in history.

“Go web go!”

Lord Of The Rings: Return Of The King

Lord Of The Rings

#12 – $377,027,325

It’s tough to pick one movie when all three are in the top 100.  I look at the series and see one giant incredible movie but I had to pick one so ROTK was the winner.

XTRA | Movies That Changed Everything: The Lord of the Rings


Transformers Optimus Prime

#22 – $319,246,193

Even though I absolutely hated the sequel, the original is one of the most entertaining popcorn movies I’ve ever seen on the big screen.  It had giant fighting robots and some of the best and most complex visual effects ever created.

XTRA | Transformers 3?  Apology accepted Michael Bay

Independence Day

Independence Day Area 51 Attack

#30 – $306,169,268

Will Smith is my favorite actor.  I’m one of the reasons his movies always make 100 million+ in theaters.  Independence Day will always be one of the greats.  ID4 is a perfect example of a huge box office blockbuster.  Big stars, big FX and big thrills.

XTRA | Wouldn’t it be awesome if Independence Day 2 was about…



#70 – $227,966,634

I talk about Signs a lot on this site. I even thought about leaving it off this list to avoid ‘Signs fatigue’.  However, I simply couldn’t bring myself to leave my all time favorite movie off the list.

The Matrix Reloaded

The Matrix Reloaded Trinity

#41 – $281,576,461

It’s ambitious, it’s explosive, it’s cool and it’s confusing.  It was once the record holder for most anticipated movie until it was toppled by The Dark Knight years later.

XTRA | What THE MATRIX screenplay taught me


Twister Helen Hunt Tornado

#61 – $241,721,524

Twister may surprise some people but I’ve always loved this movie.  When I was a kid, I used to be terrified of tornado warnings.  This eventually ignited an interest in weather and this movie came along right in the middle of that childhood obsession.  Twister is a fun movie. Plain and Simple.

Jurassic Park


#15 – $357,067,947

To this day, I’m still fascinated by how well the effects stand up compared to today’s standards.  Such a fun movie.

The Dark Knight


#3 – $533,345,358

My second favorite movie ever.  I’ve never been so excited to see a movie in my entire life and to have the film deliver on all the hype was amazing.

Try narrowing down your own list of 10 box office favorites.  It’s not that easy.

10 Flicks: Alien Weaknesses

March 22, 2011 at 11:28 am

10 Flicks: Strange Ways To Kill Movie Aliens | Top 10 Strange Ways To Kill An Alien | Movie Blog


Thousands of Aliens have invaded big screens around the world.  There are countless stories of vicious species determined to kill us but also lovable beings that touched our hearts.

Regardless, there is always someone who wants to take them out.  Most of the time, humans call in the big guns, tanks and jets to do the dirty work but there are instances when guns aren’t the answer.

Sometimes, the key to everything lies in a very simple and unexpected solution.  However, it’s important to remember that not all Aliens are evil.  Who would want to use E.T’s home sickness against him?  That’s mean.

Here are 10 of the best Alien weaknesses.

Space Jam

Sometimes, defeating Aliens is just a matter of challenging them to competitive game of basketball and recruiting his royal Airness. (Oh and Bill Murray too.)

Pitch Black

What are the odds that a prisoner who can only see in the dark finds himself on a planet with horrible monsters who only come out at night?  Furthermore, what are the odds this prisoner would find himself on this planet juuuuuuust when a solar eclipse goes down?  Bring on the light.

Mars Attacks

These fierce Martians are no match for the Indian Love Call.

War of the Worlds

Like Signs, I feel like this species should have done more research before invading our planet.  You have to do your research!

Men In Black 2: Ballchinian

It’s bad enough getting kicked in the groin but getting chin punched in the ball throat?  Now THAT’S a weakness.

Spider-Man 3: Venom

The space goop’s only weakness lies high on the decibel meter.  Bells, gongs and other loud noises work nicely.  In this case, a series of metal pipes arranged in a circular xylophone type formation.

Home Sickness

He just wants to go home!


These Aliens were taking one hell of a risk invading Earth to harvest us.  I don’t know if they noticed but there is a lot of water here.

Independence Day
Computer Virus

Technologically advanced Alien civilizations have no answer for Jeff Goldblum’s quick thinking and hacking skills.


Arguably the most famous fictional Alien of all time is seemingly invincible except for a certain green rock.

Perhaps Alien strengths will be the next list…

Movies That Changed Everything: Signs

October 30, 2010 at 11:00 pm

Movies That Changed Everything: Signs

I’m an aspiring filmmaker.  Like every filmmaker out there, I have a lengthy list of films that have inspired me along the way.  This series will examine twelve of the films that changed the way I looked at movies forever.  Films that have greatly influenced the filmmaker I hope to become someday…


Movies that changed everything: Signs

Signs is my favorite movie.  Ever.

Normally when I make that statement, I receive a confused look in return.

It IS my all time favorite.

When Signs was released, I was already obsessed with M. Night Shyamalan’s films.  The Sixth Sense and Unbreakable were both amazing movies and I was eagerly anticipating what the director would come up with next.

I had no idea his next film would literally help me decide what to do with my life.

Signs was fun.  It was a simple yet well executed concept with incredible characters but what stuck with me was how well he told his story.  It was original, funny, emotional and entertaining. (Yes…  Even the alien water thing.)

I can’t explain what happened.  I just loved it.

I’ve never felt so inspired in my entire life.

Movies That Changed Everything: Signs M Night Shyamalan

Around the time that Signs was released,  I was thinking seriously about making a life altering decision.

I was in University and well on my way to becoming an English teacher.  The idea was to teach and use my summer holidays to write.

Truthfully, I was unhappy about the direction my life was heading.  I had just realized that I didn’t want to be a teacher at all.

I felt lost

So I took a chance and transferred out of English and into a college broadcasting program.

It was the best decision I ever made as it led to my career as a professional editor.  Now I have a job I absolutely love and I write whenever I can.

Where does Signs come in?

Signs arrived when I was weighing whether or not it was worth it to pursue film at all.

Am I going to write screenplays or not?

M. Night Shyamalan’s brilliant film opened my eyes again.  Screenwriting is a big part of my life and there was no way I could leave it behind.

Before Signs came along, screenwriting was merely a hobby.  Once I saw it, screenwriting became my passion.

To this day, whenever I see that movie, I want to stop everything and write.

Some people may think it’s strange that Signs is my favorite movie.   I will even concede that there are tons of ‘better’ movies out there but that’s not always a good way to measure the impact a film can have on you.

Forget the fact that Mel Gibson isn’t the most popular person in the world right now.  It’s not about Night’s current string of disappointing films.  It’s not about the awards, the critics or the popular opinion.

For me, it’s about the movies you connect with.  The movies that inspire.

Signs came along exactly when I needed to see it.

I’ll always be thankful for that.