“Fear is not real. It is a product of thoughts you create. Do not misunderstand me. Danger is very real. But fear is a choice.”
We all have a choice, true enough. So do you choose to brave the danger and see this big budget sci-fi adventure starring Will Smith without fear, even though it’s getting pretty terrible reviews across the board?
Or do you give in to fear and not see what happens when a megastar actor gets a studio to make a film based on his own short story, when his only real writing credit before was an episode of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air?
If you re planning to see After Earth, your expectations should be set to ‘low’ – sure Will Smith is always watchable and the special effects bring an authentically futuristic vibe, but this is no classic and certainly doesn’t challenge Star Trek Into Darkness or Oblivion for the title of 2013’s best sci-fi.
The main problem is that the plot is entirely predictable and only of limited excitement.
On a space mission, young Kitai Raige (Jaden ‘Karate Kid remake’ Smith) and his father Cypher (er, his father Will Smith) crash land on a future Earth, a millennium after we wrecked the planet so badly that we had to leave and find another home.
Cypher is crippled in the crash and their rescue beacon is broken, so Kitai must embark on a perilous journey – everything on Earth has evolved to kill humans, which is a tad unfortunate as there aren’t any left in the ecosystem – to find the spare signal, which is 100km away.
So we have a real life father and son front and centre for most of the film and we’re asked to be worried about whether the boy will survive his quest and save his dad.
I won’t drop any plot spoilers but you can probably guess the ending within minutes of the start.
Director M. Night ‘Sixth Sense’ Shyamalan throws various CGI perils at young Jaden, which include some nasty baboons, a mutant eagle-like bird and a very ugly alien predator that can smell fear.
Global warming is rampant, too, meaning that every night the surface of the planet freezes over to provide yet another threat for our young hero, while at the same time ticking the laboured eco message box.
After Earth is undeniably an ego-powered star vehicle for the Smith family and it is passable entertainment.
But given the resources involved, there’s no denying that it should have been so much more.