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?

3 HOURS LATER

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.

Click here for more Reviews.

Will Smith & James Lassiter Are Looking For America’s Newest Scriptwriter!

February 25, 2013 at 10:44 am

Will Smith & James Lassiter Are Looking For America's Newest Scriptwriter! | Overbrook Entertainment & ANA Alliance

“WRITE WHAT YOU FEEL. JUST MAKE IT ORIGINAL”

There’s a deadline approaching!  You could win a meeting with Overbrook Entertainment, an opportunity to get your script further developed, and $5,000!

ABOUT THE CONTEST

James Lassiter and Will Smith of Overbrook Entertainment have joined forces with the ANA Alliance for Family Entertainment—a group of leading national advertisers intent on finding and supporting exceptional family content—to find the most talented undiscovered TV scriptwriters in the country. Overbrook Entertainment’s vision, together with the Alliance, is to produce and support extraordinary family entertainment.  Because family entertainment means different things to different people make sure your script is unique and emotionally relatable to today’s family. Submit either your 30-minute comedy or one-hour drama by 1pm PST, March 21, 2013. (scriptwritercontest.com)

“The only way to deal with fear is to smash your had against it.  Write your work and submit it.” (Will Smith)

Check out www.scriptwritercontest.com for more.

Click here for more Screenwriting.

Will Smith & James Lassiter Are Looking For America's Newest Scriptwriter! | Overbrook Entertainment & ANA Alliance

Top 10 Summer Movies 2013

January 7, 2013 at 9:00 am

Top 10 2013 Summer Movies | 2013 Summer Movie Preview

THE BLOCKBUSTERS ARE COMING AND THEY LOOK GLORIOUS!

It’s that time of year!  The season where all the Oscar contenders are released, discussed & analyzed.  It’s a phenomenal season for film fans.   While I attempt to catch up on my enormous ‘must watch’ list, I’m still thinking about next summer.  It’s never too early to get excited for the next wave of summer blockbusters.

I chose these 10 films for two reasons.  First, they are scheduled to be released between May 1, 2013 & August 31, 2013.  Second, they look awesome.  Simple enough.  Let’s get to it!

Which summer movies are you looking forward to in 2013?

Note: I’ll be updating this page as the official trailers are released.

Let the hype begin!

Honorable Mention: Oblivion (Opens April 2013)

10. KICK ASS 2

June 28, 2013

Kick Ass was a ton of fun having gone in with no knowledge of the comic.  It was packed with over-the-top violence and the sequel is sure to deliver more of the same.  AND They’ve added comedy heavyweight Jim Carrey to the mix.

Top 10 2013 Summer Movies | 2013 Summer Movie Preview

9. THE LONE RANGER

July 3, 2013

I’m a big fan of new franchises and Gore Verbinski has launched several.  (I wish he was still bringing Bioshock to the big screen.) There’s no doubt The Lone Ranger will be visually stunning and full of amazing action.  It’s just a shame they forgot to REALLY include the titular character in the first trailer.  I get the thought process behind the marketing.  Johnny Depp is a global star after all and it certainly looks like he has created another memorable character.  But Armie Hammer is an after thought here.  It’s a minor complaint as I’m sure he has plenty to do in the film.  But seriously, Depp does look awesome as Tonto.

[Update] We got a second Lone Ranger trailer that features The Lone Ranger!  Much better.

8. ELYSIUM

August 9, 2013

District 9 was absolutely incredible.  I can’t wait to see what Neill Blomkamp has in store for us next August.  Not much is known about the film outside of the people who saw and raved about the comic-con footage so here is a synopsis:

“In the year 2159 two classes of people exist: the very wealthy who live on a pristine man-made space station called Elysium, and the rest, who live on an overpopulated, ruined Earth. Secretary Rhodes (Jodie Foster), a hard line government official, will stop at nothing to enforce anti-immigration laws and preserve the luxurious lifestyle of the citizens of Elysium. That doesn’t stop the people of Earth from trying to get in, by any means they can. When unlucky Max (Matt Damon) is backed into a corner, he agrees to take on a daunting mission that if successful will not only save his life, but could bring equality to these polarized worlds.”

Top 10 2013 Summer Movies | 2013 Summer Movie Preview

7. FAST & FURIOUS 6

May 24, 2013

The original Fast & Furious came along right around the time I got my driver’s license.  Now, I never pimped my rusted 1996 Chevrolet Cavalier but I did love the movie.  Then 2 Fast came along and ruined everything.  I completely skipped Tokyo Drift but something funny happened.  The 4th installment came along…  And I liked it?  It wasn’t anywhere near the level of the first but at least the whole gang was back.

Fast 5 changed the game and took the franchise in a completely different direction.  They added The Rock and suddenly, the Fast & Furious series became a heist franchise.  I thought Fast 5 was great especially with the revelation in the end credits.  Why not?  I like the characters.  I like the new direction.  Bring on Part 6.

Top 10 2013 Summer Movies | 2013 Summer Movie Preview

6. AFTER EARTH

June 7, 2013

A while back, I wrote an article detailing two important streaks on the line when After Earth is released.  Will Smith’s hits vs M. Night Shyamalan’s flops.  One of them will end.  I’m sure many people will bet that Will Smith will be starring in the latest Shyamalan dud…  Or maybe he won’t.

Signs is my favorite movie period.  I always get perplexed looks when I admit that but it’s true.  That movie came along at the right time and stuck with me.  I’ve been waiting a long time for another classic to come from the mind of M. Night Shyamalan.  (The Last Airbender was certainly not it.)

But I really love the concept behind After Earth:

“In After Earth, one thousand years after cataclysmic events forced humanity’s escape from Earth, Nova Prime has become mankind’s new home. Legendary General Cypher Raige (played by Will Smith) returns from an extended tour of duty to his estranged family, ready to be a father to his 13-year-old son, Kitai (played by Jaden Smith). When an asteroid storm damages Cypher and Kitai’s craft, they crash-land on a now unfamiliar and dangerous Earth. As his father lies dying in the cockpit, Kitai must trek across the hostile terrain to recover their rescue beacon. His whole life, Kitai has wanted nothing more than to be a soldier like his father. Today, he gets his chance.”

Which streak will end?

5. THE WOLVERINE

June 26, 2013

X-Men Origins: Wolverine was awful.  In my opinion, it was the worst movie of 2009.  So why is Wolverine so high on this list?  They are essentially ignoring the first solo movie completely.  Nice.  I love the character and the idea of a bad ass Wolverine adventure is still exciting.  Especially one without plot holes and Deadpool.  Can you even call him Deadpool?

Top 10 2013 Summer Movies | 2013 Summer Movie Preview

4. STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS

May 17, 2013

I highly enjoy J.J Abrams movies. (Not to mention the excellent TV series he’s created.) Mission Impossible 3 is still my favorite of the four,  Super 8 was actually my favorite movie of 2011 and I adored Star Trek.  Honestly, I was never a Star Trek fan until the new film came along.  It’s not that I didn’t like it, I just never got around to watching it as a kid.  At that time, it was Next Generation so I really had no exposure to Captain Kirk & Spock at all.

Star Trek was a blast to watch even with all those lens flares.  I can’t wait to see what J.J does with the franchise now that the characters & rules are established.  Of course it is a J.J Abrams production so we know nothing about the project yet.

XTRA | Top 5 Moments: Star Trek Into Darkness Trailer #1

Top 10 2013 Summer Movies | 2013 Summer Movie Preview

3. IRON MAN 3

May 3, 2013

The Avengers took the Superhero genre to astonishingly new heights.  Marvel pulled it off…  Now what?  Phase Two!

XTRA | Top 10 Moments: The Avengers

The Marvel Cinematic Universe rolls on with a much darker Iron Man.  This trailer may go down as my favorite of 2012 unless another comes along to dethrone it.  It’ll be tough to beat.  Right off the bat, Tony Stark mentions the devastation left in Loki’s wake after his army was defeated.  Now Tony is haunted.  It’s the perfect time for one of Iron Man’s deadliest foes to appear on the big screen.  The Mandarin.  Right off the bat, you can see that Tony Stark is going to get beaten down in this film.  I can’t wait to see how he picks himself up.

XTRA | Top 5 Moments: Iron Man 3 Trailer 1

2. MAN OF STEEL

June 14, 2013

I didn’t like Superman Returns at all.  Where was the action?  Why was it so long?  Much like Wolverine, I’m glad Zack Snyder is rebooting the Man of Steel from scratch with a more realistic approach.  It helps to have Christopher Nolan on board.  Will Superman fill the void left now that Nolan’s remarkable Batman trilogy is over?

In a word: Yes.

I think Man of Steel will be the Superman movie fans have been dreaming of for decades.  The first trailer is proof:

[Update: Second Trailer has arrived]

XTRA | Top 5 Moments: Man of Steel Trailer #2

1. PACIFIC RIM

July 12, 2013

Guillermo Del Toro + Giant Robots + Equally Giant Monsters = My most anticipated movie of the 2013 summer movie season.  By far!  I’m so excited I can’t stand it.  Del Toro is truly blessed with an incredibly visual and COOL imagination.  I think Pacific Rim is poised to become of the coolest movies of all time and I don’t say that lightly.  Giant robots are going to fight giant monsters!  ……….  And Guillermo Del Toro is responsible for the mayhem!

XTRA | Top 5 Moments: Pacific Rim Trailer #1

July 12!  July 12! July 12! July 12!

“When legions of monstrous creatures, known as Kaiju, started rising from the sea, a war began that would take millions of lives and consume humanity’s resources for years on end.  To combat the giant Kaiju, a special type of weapon was devised: massive robots, called Jaegers, which are controlled simultaneously by two pilots whose minds are locked in a neural bridge.  But even the Jaegers are proving nearly defenseless in the face of the relentless Kaiju.  On the verge of defeat, the forces defending mankind have no choice but to turn to two unlikely heroes—a washed up former pilot (Charlie Hunnam) and an untested trainee (Rinko Kikuchi)—who are teamed to drive a legendary but seemingly obsolete Jaeger from the past.  Together, they stand as mankind’s last hope against the mounting apocalypse.”

Top 10 2013 Summer Movies | 2013 Summer Movie Preview

Click here for more Movie Countdowns

AFTER EARTH BATTLE: Will Smith’s Hits vs M. Night’s Flops

December 5, 2011 at 11:04 am

AFTER EARTH BATTLE: Will Smith's Hits vs M. Night's Flops

ONE STREAK WILL SURVIVE.  ONE WILL END.

M. Night Shyamalan burst onto the scene with The 6th Sense.  He followed it up with Unbreakable and my personal favorite Signs.  But since then, much has been written about his decline.  Films like The Village (which I still enjoyed), Lady In The Water, The Happening & The Last Airbender failed to meet expectations. (The Last Airbender was especially terrible)

There are two schools of thought here.  Are our expectations of the once golden filmmaker too high? Or has he truly lost the edge he once had?

Will Smith on the other hand, is a model of box office consistency.  Nearly all of his action films have been successful at the box office.  He’s as close as you get to a sure thing during the summer blockbuster season.

AFTER EARTH

M. Night Shyamalan was once my untouchable favorite director.  I’ve written about my love of Signs many times on this blog.  It’s a favorite of mine because of the impact it had on my desire to write movies.  However, I’m guilty of purchasing tickets to his newest films full of hope before ultimately leaving the theater disappointed.

Note: Christopher Nolan has since won the title of favorite director.

Will Smith has been one of my favorite actors for a long time.  I’m no stranger to afternoon marathons starring Will Smith.  When I was younger, they were a constant a source of inspiration for stories I wrote. Creative afternoons like that are inspiring.

With that history in mind, you can imagine how excited I am to have these two collaborating on a science fiction project.  Forget the past successes and failures for a moment.  It’s an interesting pairing I never thought I’d see.

After Earth is about a young boy (Played by Will’s son Jaden) and his father crash landing on Earth long after it was abandoned by humans.

The trailers have arrived.  The stage is set.  So which streak will end?

M. NIGHT SHYAMALAN’S STREAK OF CRITICAL MISSES

vs

WILL SMITH’S MIDAS TOUCH

WILL M. NIGHT RETURN TO FORM?

AFTER EARTH BATTLE: Will Smith's Hits vs M. Night's Flops

His box office numbers usually start out reasonably strong but fizzle quickly once word of mouth spreads.  Take a look at the decline in his numbers on Rotten Tomatoes:

  • The Sixth Sense 85%
  • Unbreakable 68%
  • Signs 74%
  • The Village 43%
  • Lady in the Water 24%
  • The Happening 18%
  • The Last Airbender 6%

Ouch.

WILL SMITH’S MIDAS TOUCH

AFTER EARTH BATTLE: Will Smith's Hits vs M. Night's Flops

Mr. Smith’s films have always done well at the box office regardless of his scores on RT.  In fact his last 3 films have been certified rotten on the site with an average score of 41%.  Yet combined (Seven Pounds, Hancock, I Am Legend) the films have grossed more than $550 million domestically.

Will Smith has starred in 16 movies since 1995 and there are staggering numbers to back up his claim as king of the box office. (Source: Box Office Mojo)

  • 12 have grossed more than $100 million dollars.
  • 4 grossed north of $200 million. (Independence Day was his highest at $306)
  • The average box office gross of the 16 films is $134 million.
  • At one point he starred in 8 straight films that grossed more than $100 million dollars. (2002-2008)

So yeah, you could say he has an audience.  Release a Will Smith movie between June and August and it’s a safe bet the film will make hundreds of millions of dollars.

WHICH STREAK WILL END?

Will After Earth be Will Smith’s first BIG critical AND box office bomb?  Or will the film be M. Night Shyamalan’s first official hit in nearly 10 years?  The film was written by Stephen Gaghan (Traffic, Syriana) and Gary Whitta (The Book of Eli) so critics won’t be able to blame M. Night for a bad script like they have in the past.

Personally, I think the film sounds amazing on paper.  Night is an extremely visual and gifted director and given the landscape he has been given to work with, After Earth will be a beautiful movie.  It’s also got an intriguing premise, a huge box office star and the hopes of science fiction fans everywhere behind it.

Recently, M. Night Shyamalan made a smart career decision by finally joining Twitter and hopefully engaging his fans.  I’ve been following him since day one and I’m hoping he updates us on the film regularly.  Bottom line? It’s time to see headlines like “Now That’s More Like It Night!”.  Of course some people will point at Will Smith’s appeal if it’s a success. 

I think this collaboration is the best of both worlds set in the future of ours.

WHAT DO YOU THINK?

10 Flicks: Will Smith Movies

September 19, 2011 at 7:47 am

10 Flicks: Will Smith Movies | Top 10 Will Smith Movies

In honor of Will Smith being the first artist inducted into the brand new Athletic Nerd Hall of Fame, here are 10 of his best films.

I Am Legend

I, Robot

Bad Boys

Men In Black

Ali

The Pursuit of Happyness

Enemy of the State

Hancock

Bad Boys 2

Independence Day

XTRA | Wouldn’t It Be Awesome If ID4 2 was about…

Click here for more 10 Flicks Movie Lists