Saturday, 8 June 2013
REVIEW: AFTER EARTH
100 Minutes. Starring Will Smith, Jaden Smith, Sophie Okonedo & Zoe Kravitz. Director: M. Night Shyamalan.
In a year where Science-Fiction movies are ruling the Hollywood blockbuster universe we have seen some out of this world movies this season. Tom Cruise took us to 'Oblivion' and 'Star Trek' delved into 'Darkness' for arguablly the best trek and film this year and we still have Brad Pitt's 'World War Z' with zombies, the 'Godzilla' meets 'Transformers' fight club of 'Pacific Rim' and countless comic-book adventures to turnover. With all this mainstream Sci-Fi going on, you know the Fresh Prince had to get involved. The man who in 1996 relaunched his career with two very different, mega-hit Sci-Fi's in one year ('Independence Day' and 'Men In Black' (whose trilogy concluded last year, with our Hollywood heaveyweights last outing)), is bringing his son along for the ride for their third collaboration and a director who is trying to get back to 'The Sixth Sense' storied signs of his early career and not the 'what is happening', airbending failures of late.
Well once his name appears at the end credits M. Night Shyamalan can be proud of this one, despite the rumors that his name was shyed away a lot as the stuggling director looks to rebuild his reputation that went-for some-from strangely wonderful ('Unbreakable') to just weirdly strange ('The Lady In The Water'). Here however with lavish landscapes and current, classic cinematography M. Night see's the light of day again, with a Sci-Fi tale that is big, bold, and beautiful but one that exercises restraint on the usual Hollywood pomp and circumstance. 'After Earth' is a story by it's star Will Smith about a spacecraft that crash lands on earth. A desserted earth in the near future where all animals have evolved to kill humans (better watch out for those Koala Bears). The only survivors from the crash our father and son, who need to rebuild their communications, both back on their home planet, and in their home-life relationship if they hope to stand a chance to survive in this jungleland. From being chased by all creatures great and small, to fighting alien life forms there's more character to this human story then just two survivors. From sensational skydives to grounding allergic reactions that look like Jaden needs to drink the same Benedryl his father did in 'Hitch', this is a voyage like no other.
Sure right now when there's a Will, there's a Jaden but don't think this is just a showboating affair for Will to parade his son off in a film. Sure this is a Jaden Smith vehicle but the young man who is growing before our eyes (as an actor too) takes the wheel in his own right, with a controlled, mature performance from the teenager. As his character navigates around the torturous terrain of this new earth with his injured father's guidance, (even Uncle Phil couldn't get him off this ship) Jaden's character and reputation develops on screen. After the father and son duo went from heartbreak to prosperity in the influential and inspiring classic 'The Pursuit Of Happyness', Will took a producers backseat as Jaden furthered his reputation with the brilliant remake of 'The Karate Kid' with legend Jackie Chan (which had a blindsiding serious scene of real, emotional acting from both the young Smith and the usual light Chan). Now together again the pair show this is more than just a family affair. This is an acting duo whose chemistry translates on screen for this Science-Fiction story that is refreshingly original. A survival of the fittest, man versus nature lesson rooted in the bond of family coming together or falling apart. Emotional and exciting-and complete with a great, groundbreaking 'fear is a choice' message-this is a story that takes you to different places than you'd think both in its landscape and in its nature.
Besides if Will really wanted to make this all about the Smith's he would have cast Jada too and had Willow whipping her hair in the background. Instead the great Sophie Okonedo plays wife and Zoe Isabella Kravitz furthers her reputation as more than just her family name. After her first class 'X-Men' apperance the daughter of the rock/'Hunger Games' (Lenny has shown he is a 'Precious' actor in his own right too) gives this film another emotional dimension and it's grounding balance. Will Smith's story really brings everything together nicely for Shyamalan to direct with a new vision. Playing a different sort of character from his usual charisma and charm too, Smith senior gives us militant, emotional restraint in a focussed fatherly role that is tough but fair and strong but sincere. It's Smith junior that truly shines however. With his current filmography right now he is a star, as well as one for many decades to come. He's inherited his dad's acting smarts...as well as those ears. Listen up for more from the new Fresh Prince however...this is his legend. Malibu, California born and raised, in the manistream movie circut is where he's going to spend most of his days. Shyamalan and the Smith family are back and Science-Fiction is here to stay in Hollywood. Now 'After Earth', what's next for the movie world? TIM DAVID HARVEY.