Don't blame little Jaden Smith. It really isn't his fault. It's easy to giddily accept this lamb of slaughter and and rip it apart. Especially when it's a rich lamb born to a superstar father who has effortlessly placed him in a career path many never achieve, despite their hard work or talent.
All petty jealousy aside, children of nepotism are nothing new and often we come to embrace them graciously (e.g. Michael Douglas, Josh Brolin, Angelina Jolie). It's the way they're introduced that decides whether it's nobility taking their rightful place in royalty or sandpaper being crammed down our throats.
Will Smith seems to have taken a "that's my boy and you'll love him no matter what" approach to bringing his son into the acting profession. Not that it couldn't work. It could even be endearing, but sometimes a quiet, humble intro can be more effective than one done with explosions and special effects.
In a bit of heavy, front-loaded exposition we learn that 3000 years from now mankind has, you guessed it, abused and polluted mother earth to a point where it is uninhabitable for humans. We now survive on a planet called Nova Prime, where we speak in a dialect that's a cross between Southern hospitality and Jamaican. Will Smith is Cypher. Wait, don't roll those eyes yet! He's a special caliber of space ranger called a "ghost." They're named so due to their lack of fear when battling a vicious alien species that can only respond to a human's anxiety. In case you can't understand Jaden Smith's unintelligible narration this is all shown to you through an overblown opening sequence, including Cypher calmly walking in slow mo slicing an alien's throat while others around him panic. You can almost see this as Will saying to young Ja, "Yeah, boy, this might be your story, but I'm still the star."
Cypher returns home and finds his son Kitai (Jaden) longing for his father's approval and love. He takes him on a mission to earth, hoping for a bonding session along the way. They hit an asteroid field causing them to crash land on Earth, killing everyone except the father and son duo. Their only hope of rescue is a far off beacon separated by acres of dangerous forests. Made immobile by a broken leg, Cypher slaps a wrist communicator on Kitai and lets him know it's time to man up. Or, metaphorically, it's Papa Smith telling Jaden it's time to earn his keep. At this point junior Smith must carry the rest of the film burdened by a simplistic obstacle-course plot. He gets attacked by baboons, a bug, a bird, and some mutated mountain lions, which all lead to a final boss battle with one of the big bad aliens daddy used to fight.
Again, it's not Jaden's fault. He's off acting against nonexistent animals while Pop sits back and takes over the role of basically an emotionless, I-could-give-a-s**t narrator. Smith has made a big deal about acting with his son. That's fine - if you ACT WITH YOUR SON. Editing in scenes where you talk to him through a wrist phone doesn't count.
It's frustrating. Especially considering that the idea to make this a big budget sic-fi epic was all Will Smith's. Smith Senior has fallen into the trap most actors and directors succumb to when their whole careers have been built on blockbusters, and this is the inability to scale back. This is a father and son coming of age story. This could have been a modest tale set against a camping trip gone wrong. Too modest? Okay, maybe a jungle or the Outback. Point is, the tenderness of seeing a stern father opening up to his rebellious child is lost against the egotistical need to throw spaceships and monsters our way.
Not to say this isn't admirable in other ways. It's shallow, but some of the action scenes are fun for kids who can handle the intensity. The art direction, on the other hand, is beautiful, the technology taking on a more organic look, appearing almost alien itself.
M. Night Shyamalan comes out the best here, if only for sneaking out the room while most of the criticism is hurled towards Will and Jaden. As usual, most people laughed at the promotions as they tried to guess what twist would await them at the final conclusion of the movie. Many sighed with relief after discovering his duties were only left to directing, even if at times it played to his trademark quiet drama, bordering on tedium. A nice lemon twist wouldn't be so bad now, huh?
As for Will Smith, if a blockbuster is what you're seeking for your son, then skip the pretense. Slap a black suit on him, some shades, and let him play your cute sidekick. See you two in MIB 4.
Review courtesy of our friends at Spill.com. Listen to the full audio review here!
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The After Earth premiere Wednesday night turned out to be a real family affair, with Smiths and Pinketts dominating the appropriately-colored green carpet.
With such a strong family dynamic present in this film (real life father-son duo Will and Jaden Smith star), it's no surprise that, despite being an action-packed sci-fi flick, the real focus of the story is on the father-son relationship. "The father-son relationship was always the most important thing," writer Gary Whitta told Hollywood.com at the After Earth premiere. "Even though we're telling the movie on a huge science fiction canvas ... I call it Smith Family Robinson."
In fact, After Earth wasn't originally conceived as a sci-fi film at all. When Will Smith first came up with the idea for the movie it was set in the present-day Alaskan wilderness and told the story of a military father and son who drive off the rode during a fishing trip. The father gets injured in the crash and the son has to go for help. But then, one night, Smith had a revelation.
"He had a dream one day, woke up, and said, 'It's a thousand years in the future,'" Whitta said.
So, thanks to Will's subconscious, he and Jaden were forced to fight back against vicious, highly evolved creatures instead of bears or a pack of wolves. Then again, there's still that other wolf pack they have to deal with. But something tells me this father-son duo can handle just about anything.
There is still, of course, the question of what exactly Jaden's character will have to survive in the film. Director M. Night Shyamalan is notorious for throwing huge twists in at the end of his movies, so you can bet there will be one in After Earth. Even Jaden couldn't say much without giving something away.
"Is my character tough at surviving?" Jaden said. "At the beginning, sort of, you've got to watch the movie. There's multiple different answers for that."
So grab your family members, head to the theater, and settle in for a Swiss family — I mean, Smith family — adventure.
After Earth opens nationwide May 31.
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Georgia-based writer Bridgette Burgin has accused the directors of stealing the movie's premise from her unpublished work The Final Call after she submitted 10 chapters of the book into a Writers Digest contest.
Burgin claims that judges, who screened the manuscripts, were allowed to hold on to the works after the competition and she alleges two of them then supplied her project to Gary Whitta, The Book of Eli screenwriter.
Burgin is now seeking damages for injury to her professional reputation and diminution of her intellectual property since there were more than 50 similarities between the two works.
According to AllHipHop.com, Burgin is also asking for a temporary order to ban further distribution of the film.
I could never not be on board with more cartoons. Paramount Studios, following the glory of Rango, is launching its own animation division. Rango was the debut feature from special effect staple Industrial Light & Magic, while Paramount’s previous animated films were all developed by Dreamworks. But the companies’ partnership seems to be coming to an end with the studio intending to launch a new in-house animation division and its first film in 2014.
The project is called New Kid, and is an adaptation of Jerry Holkins’ and Mike Krahulik’s online comic on Penny Arcade. The script is being written by The Book of Eli’s Gary Whitta.
What with the unstoppable giant Pixar, the animated film industry of recent years has swelled with ambition and competition. As Warner Bros. and Fox have contributed animated hits to the game over the past few years, the big name of Paramount, after the trail run of Rango, is finally taking an independent swing with this new division.
Producing New Kid are Mary Parent and Cale Boyter through Disruption Entertainment.
Source: The Wrap, Hollywood Reporter
M. Night Shyamalan is working on putting together his next directorial effort, an ultra-clandestine sci-fi project that's being developed at Will Smith's Overbrook.
According to the Heat Vision blog, One Thousand A. E., unlike most of Shyamalan's oeuvre, is not written by the director.
Instead, The Book of Eli scribe Gary Whitta is on script duty with plot details under lock and key. However, says HV, A.E. is being developed as a vehicle for Jaden Smith. There is a starring role for an adult male, although sources said Will Smith will not be stepping in.
Meanwhile, Heat Vision notes that "the secret untitled project" Shyamalan shopped around in June, which came with Bruce Willis, Bradley Cooper and Gwyneth Paltrow loosely attached, never found a buyer and was quietly shelved.
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