Every son, whether consciously or unconsciously, wants to impress his dad and wants to gain his father's respect. In the year 222 AE (after earth), after a series of cataclysmic events forced humanity to leave earth and settle on Nova Prime, that concept still holds true.
Kitai Raige (Jaden Smith) wants desperately to be a Ranger like his dad, General Cypher Raige, (Will Smith). Cypher is not only a Ranger but he's a super Ranger having saved the humans of Nova Prime from the planet's fiercest alien threats - the Skrel and their nasty monster creations known as the Ursa.
But that doesn't seem to be in the cards for Kitai. He's just flunked his Ranger test and is hounded by guilt over a childhood event. Kitai doesn't feel like he'll ever live up to his father's expectations.
Of course, this being a movie, Kitai will soon get a chance to prove to himself and to his dad, just what kind of stuff he's made of.
He soon gets that chance… A spaceship carrying Kitai and Cypher crash lands on the now quarantined Earth, killing everyone except the two of them. Their only hope for rescue is a beacon which landed some fifty miles from the ship. Cypher is critically wounded, so it's up to Kitai to save the day.
With Cypher monitoring and directing him from the ship, Kitai must face uncharted terrain, savage animals, a hostile deadly environment, and the unstoppable Ursa who can sense human fear.
Piece of cake right?
'After Earth', directed and written by M. Night Shyamalan along with Gary Whitta, from a story by Will Smith, works on many levels. I liked the story, especially the concept of overcoming one's fear, as well as the depiction of futuristic Earth. The film has a nice tension and at times, it's even very exciting.
Unfortunately what didn't work for me and in fact, almost ruined the movie, was the acting of Jaden Smith. The kid acts with his eyebrows, indicates all over the place and pushes way too hard in the emotional scenes.
Having said that, I still gave 'After Earth' which opens in theatres Friday May 31, 2013, three and a half bagels out of five, as I was entertained.
Check out our video to see what John thought and for more of our banter.