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Review: After Earth

by James Croot, from Reviews, June 13 2013,

Futuristic sci-fi adventure starring Will Smith and offspring Jaden, playing a father and son who crash land on Earth, a thousand years after humans evacuated – directed by M. Night Shyamalan (The Sixth Sense).

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Man, Scientology’s annual summer barbecue is going to be interesting this year. For once, Tom Cruise is going to be able to lord it over Will Smith as the clear winner of their “post-apocalyptic, man-not-quite alone” contest. While After Earth is no Battlefield-scale travesty, it’s all special effects and no substance means it makes Oblivion look like 2001 in comparison.

Yes, the millennia-long evolution of Earth sans humans throws up some nice creature creations and whizzy climate chaos effects, but fans of Smith snr. are going to be mighty disappointed with this Predator(s) meets The Grey by way of The Happening (yes, the now much-derided director Shyamalan is obsessed with tree terror again). For while junior builds on his Karate Kid success, one of the world’s most popular box office draws spends almost the ENTIRE MOVIE sitting on his arse and completely failing to break out his trademark smile or a slick one-liner. It’s the equivalent of the All Blacks playing 10-man rugby when the crowd wants to see the star wingers break loose.

This is a movie that seems to be telling us about how fear is only in our mind, well thanks to a po-faced plot and predictable action it’s also a film that appears to have had all the trademark Smith joy sucked out of it. It’s pretty to look at, but After Earth is an entertainment black hole.