LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) -- THV 11 Film Critic Jonathan Nettles on Will Smith's latest film, After Earth.
After Earth takes place in the future. Humans have left Earth for a new planet. On this new planet, they found an enemy that hunts by smelling your fear. Some humans have learned to "ghost" which means they have learned to not fear making them invisible to their enemy. The man who is best at this (and is also the most highly-decorated commander of the military) is Cypher Raige (Will Smith). He leads his family as he does his soldiers and his son, Kitai (Jaden Smith), is struggling to live up to his father's expectations and live in his shadow.
While they are traveling together on a training mission, their ship crashes on a planet where everything has the ability to kill humans, even the planet's air. Cypher and Kitai are the lone survivors and with Cypher injured, it's up to Kitai to embark on the dangerous journey to signal for help. Facing uncharted terrain, the savage animals that rule the planet, and an unstoppable alien creature that escaped during the crash, father and son must work together and trust one another if they have any chance of rescue.
The story for After Earth was written by Will Smith, who also produced with his wife Jada and brother-in-law Caleeb Pinkett. It's pretty clear that the Fresh Prince had himself and his son in mind when he came up with it and I can imagine that part of the story rings true for Jaden, the son of a world-famous rapper turned actor. While the chemistry works on screen, I never felt a connection to either of them and that's where the movie fails. It failed to connect on an emotional level. There were moments of emotion, but they didn't really involve the main characters. Will Smith was great as usual and Jaden did well when he wasn't yelling in an "I'm a teenager and I'm upset" whining voice which I assume he'll grow out of. There is a sense of impending doom in the film but the payoff isn't there. It doesn't go far enough to make me feel it.
This is a film that won't be remembered amongst the other summer box office smashes of Smith's career but it's entertaining enough to watch...once. Oh yeah, it's also directed by M. Night Shyamalan.
Last week, I talked with John Cho about his role as Sulu in the Star Trek Into Darkness. We talked about working with J.J. Abrams, taking on a part in an iconic series, and George Takei. Check out the video for the full interview.