Saturday, 28 September 2013

After Earth (2013)

After many tough gruelling auditions spanning many gruelling weeks, Jaden Smith was finally awarded the starring role in his fathers hopeful sci-fi epic...oh wait.

The plot is as old as the hills, ye olde coming of age drama between a father and his boy, this one happens to be set 1000 years in the future on a distant planet. Put simply Will Smith ('Cypher Raige'...really? is that space age name cool enough for you Mr Smith?) thinks his boy is a failure for not becoming a space ranger action figure type bloke, so there is much resentment between the two. On a final mission Smith Sr. brings Jr. along for the experience, but they hit a snag midflight with pesky asteroids and are forced to crash land on Earth. Now its up to Smith Jr. to save the day and gain his fathers respect by saving both their lives, can he manage it?! tune in next week folks, same channel, same tim...

Oh and there's that whole planet Earth being made uninhabitable from man made pollution issues and humans having to abandon it...part. Now Earth is some huge wild jungle free from mankind (not any trace at all? really? no ruins?) and has evolved into a ferocious predator filled world that time has forgotten. All that was missing was Doug McClure.

The main problem with this film which I think everyone has mentioned is the fact Jaden Smith is a seriously lacking actor, he clearly has no natural talent for it and comes across wooden, lifeless and amateurish...although he is still young for sure. Its quite clear Smith Sr. is creating a fast food/instant movie star situation with his boy by getting him in big movie roles and trying to force him to the top. Smith Sr. wants this to happen big time in my opinion, I'm sure Smith Jr. does too but I don't think he's actually got the flair or natural ability.

The other issue is Smith Sr. tries to act seriously here, or tries something, not sure what, but it doesn't work. His performance is terrible, verging on B-movie standards. He's suppose to be a by the books, hard lined, emotionless, fearless, stoic military leader who certainly doesn't mollycoddle his son in any way. This means Smith Sr. is basically an unlikable character, not good, but it also means that Smith Jr's goal is to be like his father, an emotionless robot with no soul. This pretty much means that both the lead characters are unlikable and emotion in the film is cold and forced, or so it feels.

At no point did I really care about either of the lead characters, even at the very end, I didn't give a hoot frankly. The human emotion was as plastic looking as the ships interior, and that's pretty darn plastic!. So Smith Sr. sits out all the action in this film and simply sits around looking stern, whilst Smith Jr. is our hero and has the same expression of a goldfish the entire time. Oh he also whines quite a bit too, he's actually a bit annoying.

Smith Sr. gives Jr. this all encompassing speech about what to do and what not to do before sending him on his way. Then literately within the first five minutes of setting off the kid ignores what his father says, gets himself chased by a posse of large killer baboons and finally stung by a poisonous leech, no wonder this kid failed his space cowboy test thing. Luckily they just happen to have the correct antidote for the leech bite so never mind. I did feel sorry for him towards the end though, he reaches the tail end of the ship and finds out he's now gotta climb a huge volcanic mountain on top of it because the flare/beacon thing has no signal! these space age service providers huh sheesh!.

The whole film looks good as do all films these days, the special effects are touch and go, CGI in abundance of course but not the best. The scenic views of Nova Prime are very nice at the start as are all the location shots throughout but props and sets are curiously average looking. As I already said the interior of the spaceship is very odd, its all beige and looks like its been made out of cardboard and plastic, visibly shakes too. What was that carwash brush section that Jaden walks through?? what the hell was that?!, plus all the equipment used and the 'Ursa' egg all looked very poor.

One thing that did spring to mind throughout, why doesn't anyone have any futuristic guns of some kind? surely these space ghosts would carry a gun for emergencies?. It just seems so forced that this accident happens and they are stranded on a prehistoric Earth with only a Predator spear to protect them, trying to make it a desperate primeval survival flick much??. Plus the suits both the Smith boys wear, they are futuristic gizmo's right, don't they at least have an internal temperature control? surely that is an obvious gadget to include when designing?. No oxygen supply, battery pack, extra weapons concealed anywhere etc...pretty useless suit really isn't it, all it did was change colour.

The overall message about us humans is pretty definitive if you ask me, we messed up our own planet to the point that we had to abandon it, we then find another planet and claim it as our own when it clearly belongs to another alien race (or is looked after by another alien race). All this says to me is the human race are in fact like a disease, we are infectious and bad for a planets ecosystem. In this film clearly we have upset another race by invading this planet, why don't we just find another planet?.

Its not all bad, I liked the mystery behind the alien race that unleashes the Ursa, nothing given away there which is fine, I quite liked the Ursa too. I think they captured a futuristic Earth without humans nicely...that's about it. Its a weak survival film really, you're never in any sort of fear about what's gonna happen, you know everyone will be OK, no suspense or real drama, its all very shallow and amazingly rudimentary.