What I loved most about having an all you can eat cinema pass was never leaving a screening disappointed. If after 20 minutes my jaw was aching from the yawning, up I would jump and it was onto the next one. My cinema pass expired over a year ago, since then it’s been DVD’s and the joys of Netflix. But ooh ooh ooh I squealed when I saw the trailer for After Earth; last time I saw Will and Jaden onscreen together I wept from the inside out. The pursuit of Happiness had me beaming, tearing up and superman punching the air when things worked out for the pair after their catastrophic series of unfortunate events.
Add a couple of years to the situation, and you’ve got killer alien species and oodles of cool gadgetry; not to mention a foot long hot dog and a keg of diet coke and the 100 minutes spent with the pair should have been a treat. I was wrong, oh so wrong. Add 30 seconds worth of trailer space and you’ve got the movie wrapped. Sure there’s beautiful landscape, a climate sensitive skin suit and sentiments surrounding that age old bond between father and son; but we needed more braun and less yawn! Much like in the Pursuit of Happiness, Will and Jaden played on screen, the relationship they share in the ‘real world’. Jaden plays Kitai, a 13 year old cadet trying to fill the shoes his hotshot General of a father has placed before him.
Their spaceship’s crash landing leaves Cypher (Will Smith) with two broken legs forcing Kitai (Jaden Smith) to trek across Earth’s wilderness to send a light-beam message hailing for help to save both of their asses. Kitai is a guilt-laden ego wrapped in a 13 year old frame whose father is literally inside his head, whispering his cold commands and high expectations; this film is deffo one for the Psych students to pick at. Unfortunately it makes for a sleep inducing hour and a half.
With Will Smith’s character out of action, the lens focusing on Jaden is incredibly loaded. A teary tantrum scene which I’m sure was intended to make me clutch at my chest with sympathy only made me giggle, bless Jaden and his not quite broken voice squeaking through his lines. I did however gush a little too loudly when the velociraptor-eagle thingamabob used her body to shield our Kitai from one of Earth’s daily killer freeze; I guess one good turn deserves another and all that. A gang of oversized mountain puddy-cats were ready to turn her young into KFC, lil Kitai flipped a bit, stabbed a hit and made sure they weren’t finger licking good.
I guess even though her young died in the scuffle, her unborn eggs trampled and scrambled she was still a mother and Kitai having been adopted into her fold was worth dying for. Like many of life’s lessons, it’s only when we walk through the same situations again that clarity and understanding unburdens us of guilt. I’m hoping this is what Shyamalan was hoping to achieve in duplicating the ‘smother for safety’ scene and theme. Amongst his motivations for completing his cadet training to be just like his daddy, Kitai has the pain filled memory of his sister sacrificing herself to a fear feasting monster after placing him in a protective placebo bubble etched in his heart and mind waiting to be resolved.
With so many of Hollywood’s elite ending up in rehab or prison, young Jaden knows only too well how it feels to watch your role models face their fears only to get skewered by self or society. How on earth then is he meant to successfully navigate life’s rough terrain without ending up with a symbolic shaft in his spine? Daddy can’t always whisper in your ear, which Kitai discovered when the communication doo-da breaks and he’s left on his tod. When it matters though, daddy voice will always get through.
Getting to the crash site just in time, Kitai grabs a puff of that good s***, aka synthesized oxygen to escape the deathly effects Earth’s air has on his estranged lungs. Sure the atmospheric interference has blocked his ability to use tech to communicate with papa, but the koosh whoosh he’s just hit appears to have expanded his senses to the fullest. With Daddy whispering into his brain once again Kitai sets about imitating Frodo and humps his hind up the mountain to save the day. He gets to the top when low and behold the fear eating blind spider-crab thingy is waiting for him. Daddy’s words calm and reassure him, focusing and redirecting his fears, freeing him to slice and dice the beast complete his mission like a Bosssss!
It wouldn’t be complete without a sick bucket scene of sentimentality, cue Kitai crying into papa bear’s chest for his mama and me re-tasting hotdog jalapeño. After parting with my pounds to sit through this Smith-Shiyamalan production, I have to pay my respects. Will and Jada have found a way to teach their children life lessons, ensuring everyone’s bank account sees bountiful blessings. After Earth promised to be a family friendly, action packed production with aliens and gadgetry, it didn’t deliver. I got 100 minutes of bushland exploration heartburn and was left with a hankering for nuggets (don’t judge me). This is a wait for TV (not even DVD) release kinda film in my opinion, but if someone else is paying or you’re suffering insomnia and desperate for a nap; this is your movie.