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Positive review: http://www.hitfix.com/motion-captured/review-will-and-jaden-smith-explore-father-son-dynamics-against-a-science-fiction-adventure-backdrop-in-after-earth

In my personal opinion, this guy is the best movie reviewer on the internet. I've been reading him for years and: he is fair, doesn't have an agenda against certain talent, is not an art house snob, but is also not a easy fanboy for genre films. So, if he has nice things to say about it, that's a good thing.

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From Will's Facebook:
Three years of hard work all led to this --- After Earth premiere in NYC—a family affair in the city that never sleeps.
'Access Hollywood' interviews:
Will & Jaden:
Alfonso Ribeiro:
Edited by Ale
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NEW YORK, NY - MAY 30: Actor Will Smith and Jaden Smith are seen outside 'BET Studio' on May 30, 2013 in New York City.
Edited by Ale
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Review: 'After Earth' crashes on take-off The sci-fi action-adventure starring Will Smith and son Jaden is a disaster. Blame the script, blame the poor effects, but most of all, blame director M. Night Shyamalan.

By Betsy Sharkey, Los Angeles Times Film Critic

May 30, 2013, 5:45 p.m.

I have so many questions after seeing "After Earth," the new sci-fi action-adventure starring Will Smith and his 14-year-old son, Jaden.

First, just how much blinding power is in that famous smile of his? On the day Will Smith floated the idea — "sci-fi flick, father-son friction, me and the kid will star" — did its sheer warmth and radiance make everyone in the room believe that anything, including "After Earth" as an actual, viable movie, was possible?

Someone wrote the checks.

And then someone hired a director. Which leads to another question: Have alien body snatchers made off with M. Night Shyamalan?

There is no small irony that this sci-fi action adventure is about surviving a serious crash. The scorched earth left behind by "After Earth" is sure to leave a scar on everyone involved.

Although the Smith franchise will no doubt recover, the toxic ozone hanging over Shyamalan won't lift any time soon.

"After Earth" has a hint of the skin-crawling fright of Shyamalan films past, the ethereal palette he favors, echoes of the tender human touches we saw in his Oscar-nominated "The Sixth Sense." Enough to feel that Shyamalan is still in there, fighting since "Signs" in 2002 to regain control. But not enough to save "After Earth."

And not enough to explain why the director's films keep getting worse. It must be body snatchers, ones from a planet that has no clue how to make a movie.

Has Smith forgotten that his strength is his warmth, his humanity? The effortless charm of his turns in "Men in Black," "Six Degrees of Separation" and of course "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air," which ruled the '90s, does not even show up for a cameo in "After Earth."

That failure to communicate cannot be chalked up to the movie's more serious tone. The actor was equally charismatic in the far more serious "The Pursuit of Happyness." Smith earned that Oscar nod for his portrayal of the homeless Wall Street-hopeful/single dad, another father-son story that featured Jaden.

The bones of Smith's story are not the problem. The issues churned up by an A-type dad with high expectations and a son's failure to measure up are classic. It's the transition to screenplay by Gary Whitta, who wrote the post-apocalyptic tale "The Book of Eli," and Shyamalan, that is rocky.

The script has no nuance, none. And when Shyamalan moves into the director's chair, the script problems are magnified.

Everything is spelled out, underlined in red. Take the close-up on a "Restricted Access" sign followed by the overkill of having someone proceed to explain what "Restricted Access" means.

Speaking of overkill, flashbacks, thousands of them, become things to be feared as much as any space alien.

Smith plays Cypher, a tightly wound, high-ranking United Ranger, protectors of humanity 1,000 years after Earth could no longer sustain life as we know it. Mankind now lives on planet Nova Prime. Its resident aliens, the Skrel, have created a monster race called the Ursa, genetically bred to hunt humans. The Ursas are blind, only able to sniff out our kind by smelling fear. That particular quirk will set up one of the film's major themes — fear and how to control it, or preferably, not have it at all, ever.

After a very dull opening narration to lay out all that history, the film finally gets underway as Kitai (Jaden Smith) is finding out that he failed the test to become a Ranger like Dad. He's bummed, and worse, Dad's due home for dinner tonight after a long stretch patrolling the galaxy, and he'll be bummed too. But Kitai's scientist mom, Faia (Sophie Okonedo), thinks she has the cure — a father-son bonding trip.

After a few recriminations over dinner, Cypher tells Kitai to pack his bag. Not for vacation, but to tag along on Dad's next military mission.

Let's take a moment to talk about the sci-fi effects. In this age of incredible ones, most of "After Earth's" seem inspired by the 1950s, one generation beyond tinfoil. The spacecraft looks exactly like a giant flying stingray sans the tail. Which might not matter, but …. When the craft crashes on a still hostile Earth, the only survivors — Cypher critically injured and Kitai scared to step up — are in the front of the craft, while the life-saving beacon is in the "tail" section.

The rest of the film hangs on finding that oft-mentioned tail. That story arc will test Kitai's courage and Cypher's patience, since the injury means he can bark out orders only by remote. Earth has many perils — mainly its wild animal population and one Ursa that survived the crash — don't ask. Jaden will be required to do a lot of major stunt work if Kitai is to survive.

As Gen. Cypher Raige, Smith has never seemed stiffer, like Patton without the personality. It's as if his Ranger suit were two sizes too small and he's trying to just deal with it. Meanwhile, Jaden struggles with the same issues as his character. He is trying so hard that the teenager's engaging on-screen presence, the one that made "The Karate Kid" such a kick, mostly disappears.

He's best when running, jumping and fighting the beasties. Both dad and lad have a tough time with the deadly dialogue.

If you're still wondering whether "After Earth" is a disaster, the question is not if, but how big?



"After Earth"

MPAA rating: PG for sci-fi action violence and some disturbing images

Running time: 1 hour, 40 minutes

Playing: In general release


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Drew really lays out what I was saying earlier...

M. Night Shyamalan has entered the phase of his career where there is a certain amount of baggage that prevents a percentage of the audience (and the film press) from even remotely approaching a new film by him with an open mind. It's been fascinating to watch the fall from newly-annointed genius in 1999 to openly-reviled punchline in 2013. While he courted a certain amount of that with his Newsweek cover story and his self-commissioned immolation-in-book-form "The Man Who Hears Voices" and his ludicrous "documentary" about the making of "The Village," it is still discouraging to watch people spend weeks warming up for a new film of his by practicing their snark and trotting out their complaints about his prior work. At this point, Sony barely even acknowledged him in the marketing for this film, a clear indication that they were aware of the issue, and even so, I see people piling on already, and I'm baffled.

Maybe it's the father-son act of Will and Jaden Smith that also has some people cracking their knuckles and sharpening their knives. Keep in mind, I'm not talking about people who have seen the film and didn't like it, but the ramp up over the last few weeks where I've seen people who have absolutely not seen the film railing on it anyway. Whatever the case, it feels unfair to me. "After Earth" is very straightforward, and there is a sincerity to it that is easily mocked but also admirable in an age where almost everything has a sort of winking post-modern stance.

Read more at http://www.hitfix.com/motion-captured/review-will-and-jaden-smith-explore-father-son-dynamics-against-a-science-fiction-adventure-backdrop-in-after-earth#VpJMQIBmmtVs74Lx.99

I've never seen reviewers go after other reviewers so pointedly. Makes you really wonder just how reliable these people are and whether they are able to step outside of their bias and review movies without an agenda. I've read so many reviews that open up with how much they hate Night or how they are sick of Will Smith "shoving his kids down our throats," and it's hard to believe that they didn't enter their viewing experiences with those biases in hand.

I also find it interesting that some of the reviewers praise Will's acting as great in his portrayal of the battle hardened and emotionally stunted father, and others are upset that he is so stiff and unfeeling, missing his naturally warm, affable charm. Is it me, or are some of these people daft? How do you play an emotionally stunted and serious father with issue who is affable and warm? If he were to play the affable, warm father, one of the major obstacles between he and his son on this journey would be removed, making the story increasingly one dimensional and boring.

But here's the secret, and someone correct me if you think I'm wrong... I'm willing to bet people would have complained if Will had played the character as his natural, likable self, probably saying that he doesn't take any risks and that a more serious and distant tone would have added more to the plot and interaction and growth of the characters. I wish I could sum it up in simply saying "haters gonna hate," but it's a bigger problem than that.

It's very rare that you see a reviewer state that people wanted to hate the film before seeing it, but I have to say... that kind of behavior is transparent. Anyone older than 8 can see when someone is hoping that something fails, and can especially see when someone takes delight in a perceived failure, even if it isn't a failure. It may seem like just writing on websites and forums, but what you say, how you say it, and what you choose to focus on is generally a dead giveaway.

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