There are two ways to watch After Earth: as a movie, which I cannot recommend, or as an extended sketch comedy scene designed to poke fun of a bad 70s French soap opera. I’m honestly flabbergasted. This is without doubt the worst movie I have ever seen—and I’ve seen quite a few. M. Night Shyamalan should be convicted of crimes against humanity. He is now the only person on Earth that could possibly change my mind in favor of keeping the Guantanamo Bay prison open.
To put this into perspective, I like my sci-fi—and I’ll take it almost any way I can get it. Continuity errors, bad dialog, and completely unrealistic… anything. But this. It looks like they hired the guy who makes seat belts for General Motors as a costume designer. As he was carrying a pile of his new outfits across the set, an intern must have gotten in the way and caused a spill resulting in Jaden Smith taking a blow to the head. The resulting trauma caused him to speak throughout the entire movie in five different accents belonging to old men with jaundice exploded in his throat. At one point near the beginning, you observe that a good way to stabilize a sensitive load being pulled up into a spaceship is to have a bunch of dudes stand around it with pool sticks.
Short of a pizza delivery truck hanging out in the background and the old “I can see the zipper on the monster’s suit,” After Earth’s roll hits all the popular sci-fi fail hotspots: Dick and Jane dialog, inelegant attempts at conveying deeper meaning, heroes that somehow think swords are more efficient than guns (sorry to all Jedi onlookers), silly computer graphics, and a complete failure to back up the current world state with an adequate mythology. Yes, even Battlefield Earth managed to start and end without a young whiner screaming “Leave me alone!” at a giant bird.
Just, wow. Will Smith has fallen a hell of a long way since 1993’s Six Degrees of Separation. If you want to subject yourself to this horror show, I highly recommend that you just slap yourself hard in the face instead. It’s cheaper and far less painful.
By Johnny Beaver