Let me say, before I start, that I love Will Smith. At least, I love “The Fresh Prince.” I love “I Am Legend.” I love “The Pursuit of Happyness.” I adore “Seven Pounds.” And at the top of this list, I love me some “Independence Day.” However, I’m not so hot on the person Will Smith has become, and if half of what his children have tweeted is something they actually tweeted, then he has failed as a father. So let me revise that statement. I loved Will Smith. His children should just be children and stay out of the spotlight. Thank god we haven’t had a movie yet where Will and Jaden Smith star alongside each other. Wait...what’s this? Such a movie exists? Yes. Unfortunately, it does. I watched “After Earth.” Wait; let me revise yet another statement. I stared at a screen that was playing “After Earth” and listened to the dialogue and followed the plot. To say I watched it might imply that this is watchable. It isn’t. My god, it isn’t. “After Earth” is written and directed by M. Night Shyamalan. M. Night Shyamalan directed his first major motion picture in 1999. It was called “The Sixth Sense” and is a wonderful movie. Since then, Shyamalan has directed seven different films. All of which, are terrible. This was his seventh and most recent movie. If I had to guess how this movie was written, I would say that the head writer had a fever dream that was a scene-for-scene replica of this movie. He woke up, thought it was genius, and wrote it down. The next morning, this writer realized he had a script due soon and nothing to give. As he frantically looked for some sort of story to tease the studio with, he found a post-it note that said “After Earth.” I’m sure you can guess what happened next.
Let’s get into the plot. 1,000 years ago, earth was abandoned. We were invaded by an alien species that is blind, deaf, and basically a strong and large spider. Oh, did I forget to mention why we were losing this war? They couldn’t see or hear, but they could smell fear. Let me repeat: THEY COULD SMELL FEAR. We left and settled on a planet that is basically planet Grand Canyon. We barely fended off this species for a long time until finally, a warrior was born. Who is this warrior? Will Smith of course. Will Smith’s character invented “ghosting,” which simply means you don’t feel fear. He singlehandedly won the war and saved humanity. However, before the war ended, the human city was invaded. Will Smith was not there, but his children, a 4-year-old Jaden Smith and an 18-year-old girl, were. The older sister tells little Jaden to hide in the furniture, because they can’t smell fear through furniture (duh!). He does and an alien bursts in and kills the sister. 4-year-old Jaden hides and survives which brings us to where our story starts.
Jaden Smith, whose name is Kitai, (yes, that is his name) is about to become a soldier at 14 years of age. His father is a war hero and is coming home from an excursion soon, so Kitai wants to impress his father. However, despite being faster and simply a better soldier than everyone else, he is rejected. He goes home empty-handed to his disappointed father. Oh, I forgot to mention, Kitai blames himself for his sister’s death. What does father Will Smith have to say about this? Does he say, “You were 4. You couldn’t have done anything” or, “It’s not your fault”? No. No, instead he blames his son for his daughter’s death. He also is cold and bitter to his son, and is just an awful father. Kitai’s mother convinces Will Smith to take him on his next trip, which is a simple cargo ship carrying one of the aliens that smells fear. Will Smith invites Kitai on the ship. Kitai accepts, and accompanies his father on the ship. During the trip, they run into a meteor storm that they have a small chance of surviving. The pilots decide to take the slim chance of waiting the storm out, since there is no other choice. That is, until Will Smith barges in and demands that they go into hyper speed. The pilots say that this will kill them, but Will Smith orders it and they obey. Hundreds of soldiers are on this ship, and it crashes. The ship has what must be at least a five mile free fall. Hundreds of soldiers die, wait no, everyone dies except of course, for Will Smith and his son. Will Smith is very injured, and the emergency beacon is far away. Kitai however, is for whatever reason, after this five mile drop, completely fine. Not even a bruise or torn space suit. Kitai sets out to find the emergency beacon with his father talking to him in his ear telling him what to do. Oh, by the way, we are about ten minutes into the movie.
We find out that they have crash landed on earth, where every species has evolved to a giant dangerous version of themselves…1000 years later. Evolution is one of the main themes in this movie, yet they chose to COMPLETELY ignore how it works. It takes a whole lot more than 1000 years for animals to grow an extra limb, let alone go from the size of a pillow to the size of a house and grow claws and spit acid. In all of this excitement, I forgot to mention how they talk in this movie. They have accents that sound vaguely Asian, but really, they just sound like they have a speech impediment. I won’t spoil the rest of the movie, but everything gets worse.
After watching “After Earth,” I wasn’t laughing. I wasn’t angry. I was just sad. In its opening weekend this movie made triple what “Pulp Fiction” did. “After Earth” is terrible, and made me lose any respect I had left for Will Smith and M. Night Shyamalan. Sometimes there are bad movies that are so bad they are worth watching. It simply makes me sad to watch this. I wouldn’t wish anyone the agony of this experience. Then again, I knew what I was getting into, and in the future, I will probably watch much worse.