After Earth is a decent but perfunctory sci-fi movie. It does not break any new ground. There’s no urgent reason to see it now, unless you adore Will Smith (as many fans do).
When you see “Directed by M. Night Shaymalan” at the beginning, you may wonder if there will be trickery or red herrings or left field surprises. The answer is no. You can pretty much see the plot resolution of After Earth coming right down Lindbergh (or other major artery near your respective theater).
The movie is a showcase for Will Smith’s son, Jaden, who plays Kitai Raige. The 14-year-old is a passable actor, but likely would not have been cast in the role were his dad not the main star, producer and story source.
Set in the distant future, a thousand years after Earth has been abandoned, following wars, destruction, etc., Kitai’s home planet is Nova Prime. As befits the sci-fi future, there’s plenty of cool, but stark, architecture. The military uniforms are awesome.
Will Smith stars as Cypher Raige, a military man who’s been away from home too long. He’s similar to Robert Duvall in The Great Santini. Great military man, not so great family man. But Cypher’s ready to retire and hang with the fam… after one last mission.
Cypher takes his son on the mission. And when asteroids damage the spacecraft, an emergency landing occurs on… good ol’ planet Earth! And, for a planet that was left behind because it was uninhabitable, it looks pretty darn good! Oh, there are pesky predators who’d kill you in a second, but the forests appear verdant and the streams and rivers clean.
After the crash landing, Dad is badly hurt and can’t walk. And the device that sends a signal back to Nova Prime is damaged. But there’s another one in the tail section of the craft, a few miles away. So the young and callow Kitai takes off on a journey to find it. Will he make it?
Other than Smith and son, the most notable cast member is Zoe Kravitz, another celeb spawn. The daughter of Lennie Kravitz and Lisa Bonet plays Kitai’s sister. Sophie Okenado is Mrs. Raige.
After Earth is a standard, run-of-the-mill sci-fi flick. It’s not awful, but there’s really nothing here to get jiggy about.