With Will Smith’s list of amazing films in recent years, I really wanted to like this movie. Sadly Id already heard about its mediocrity and decided never to watch it. Curiosity eventually got the better of me though, and I endured it anyway. With my expectations suitably low, I came to the conclusion that it wasn’t that bad. I was still able to enjoy it, but need to ask myself, is this because of my unconditional Will Smith fandom?
The main hole is that storyline is noticeably basic and at about three quarters into the film you may, as I did, get the slight inkling that you could have written it yourself. Well learn more of this later but first Ill sum it up
Sometime in the future, Earth and the majority of its inhabitants see fit to become inhospitable to humans and so we take the sensible decision to leave. We settle on another planet and in the process get quite handy at space travel. Will (I’m on first name terms with him) plays a fearless space ranger, Commander Cypher Raige. During warfare with another alien race our new enemy produces a breed of human-hunting alien beasts. Here comes the film’s philosophical angle. These aliens’ only way of sensing humans is by smelling fear, which all the storys hurdles are written around it also gives birth to the superbly cheesy line “the only thing to fear is fear itself”. On one of their expeditions, Commander Raige and his son Kitai (Jaden) come into turbulence and end up crash-landing onwait for it Earth, which after a thousand plus years still doesnt like humans. Kitai then has to venture out and retrieve a lost beacon on his own due to his fathers broken legs and the fact that everyone else died in the crash. Along the way he finds plenty to be scared of but battles to conquer his propensity to fear.
So you see its not the most complex story youve ever had to unravel. That said, the films basic -premise does lead to the fantastic thought-provoking quote by Smith senior Fear is not real. The only place that fear can exist is in our thoughts of the future. It is a product of our imagination, causing us to fear things that do not at present and may not ever exist.
The second obstacle in the way of really enjoying this movie is the acting. You have the hugely successful, talented lead actor type playing a cold, emotionless support character, ultimately requiring very little of his huge facet of skills. Meanwhile, young buck Jaden gets to use this experience to brush up his portrayal of a whole selection of emotions, I wouldnt describe it as the best formation. Also, in an attempt to show the development of humans, all the characters have adopted a strange accent, which is American English most of the time but a Jamaican or southern lilt will appear every now and again, inconsistently.
As well as the film itself, the end credits tell a long tail about this movies conception and does a lot to explain all the above. The story is by Will Smith and its produced by him too, along with Jada Pinkett-Smith and some other chap with the surname Pinkett. My interpretation of all this is that Will and Jada wanted to create a film that starred their son Jaden and everything else fell around that desire.
Also on the roster is M. Night Shyamalan, who does an adequate job of conjuring up a perilous version of Earth. The end result is a perfectly watchable, easy going adventure and though not at his ground-breaking best, Shyamalans contribution may have saved this film from becoming a real crash-landing.
Cypher Raige Will Smith
Kitai Raige Jaden Smith
Directed by M. Night Shyamalan
Story by Will Smith
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See the trailer here
After Earth Film Trailer