Tuesday, August 20, 2013

After Earth (2013)

After Earth largely tanked in the US. In many ways it was primed for brickbats from the start-I heard that the producers were not screening it for anyone until the last possible moment. It also had a chip on its shoulder because it's director, the M Night Shamalan or as I call him SHamalama dingdong, was the director. Sure it was a work for hire but it was his name attached so people went in with knives drawn.

On the other hand back in June I saw writer Peter David  wax poetic about the film and the mythology of the world with in it. He said it isn't a bad film....

Having seen the film I find that it's not the worst film of the year, that Peter David is right about how the story and the mythology are pretty good, but on the other hand there are a couple of choices that wound the film really badly.

For those who don't know the plot of the film has Jaden Smith being held back from the space rangers because of problems in the field portion of his studies. His dad is a legendary general, he's played by Will Smith, decides to take him along on a trip . However as they are in transit their ship runs into problem. Hoping to reach the nearest planet the ship breaks up and crashes. The only ones left alive are the two Smiths. Will's legs are broken and when it's discovered that the rescue beacon is a good distance away Jaden must fight his fear to go retrieve it if they want to get home

It's a well done film that on the face of it is a pretty good action adventure, but as I said a couple of really bad (acting) choices were taken and it wrecks things.

The first really bad choice is to make Jaden high strung. He's not high strung, he's stretched tight to one the point of being one quarter turn of snapping. There is no question s to why he's not a ranger, he's this close to insane. This might have worked if we saw him at a point where he wasn't twitchy, but all wee see is the twitchy Jaden and it you really can't root for him.

The second bad choice is to make Will a stick in the mud. I mean he's so uptight, he never relaxes even at home. Its no wonder Jaden is neurotic. It would be better if we saw some sign of him relaxed at some point. It would also help if he said something other than a statement of philosophy or barking an order. Yes there are the flashbacks, but they don't help much. Mostly Will is a tough as nails philosophy machine.

Ultimately I kind of liked the film. I know about an hour in, when the set up was long done and we were hip deep in the danger, I was ready for a sequel, something that may or may not happen. I figure with a sequel we'll get past the crap that doesn't work and focus on the stuff that did.

Worth a shot on cable or Netflix

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