In the new movie "After Earth", a crash landing leaves father and son team Will and Jaden Smith stuck on the planet a thousand years after humans were forced to flee Earth. I got the opportunity to talk to co-screenwriter of "After Earth", Gary Whitta, who also wrote the post-apocalyptic smash hit "The Book of Eli". Whitta gave me the lowdown on his new project, "The film is set in the future after humankind has been forced to basically evacuate planet Earth. The premise is that at some point in the future, we finally reach the point as a human species where we've done so much damage to the planet that the natural ecosystem of Earth has a kind of allergic reaction to us. It begins to go through a kind of hyper-accelerated evolutionary process, the atmosphere begins to change and it reaches the point where we can't even live there as a human species. The Earth renders itself unsafe for human habitation, and so we're forced to leave here."
This is the first time Will and Jaden have paired up again since "The Pursuit of Happyness" back in 2006. Whitta describes their relationship in "After Earth", "Will is a high-ranking and highly respected general in the military and Jaden is a cadet in the military academy who looks up to his dad and wants to be just like him but doesn't quite have the right stuff that his father has to earn his father's respect. They are a father and a son who have this fractured relationship; the dad is more like a drill sergeant than he is just a dad. In the crash, Will is very badly injured and he and Jaden are the only survivors. Jaden has to step up and be the son he's always wanted to be."
So what real environmental lessons can be learned from the film? According to Whitta, "The movie is really a precautionary tale. If we proceed on the path that we're on, we're going to reach a point where the planet isn't going to be able to sustain us and we'll have to find somewhere else to live or we'll die."
"After Earth" crash lands into theaters on May 31.