“After Earth” (Action: 1 hour, 40 minutes)
Starring: Jaden Smith, Will Smith and Sophie Okonedo
Director: M. Night Shyamalan
Rated: PG-13 (Intense scenes, disturbing images and violence)
Movie Review: Sometimes, a screenplay can be too straightforward. This is especially the case with Director Shyamalan (“The Sixth Sense,” 1999) at the helm.
Cadet Kitai Raige (Jaden Smith) travels with his father, Gen. Cypher Raige (Will Smith, who concocted this story), who is a famed member of a military group called Rangers. After their spaceship is crippled, the father-son duo land on a wildly dangerous planet. The planet is Earth, 1,000 years in future. The likelihood of survival on this planet is small, but the father-son team is determined to endure.
“After Earth” is a serious science-fiction production, but its plot is an impractical science-fiction piece. Its great fault is that it is too simple of a story, told in a monotonous format. This aspect leaves little room for sensitivity for the predicament of characters and plot development.
The audience has no emotional attachment to the cast. Again, the plot is thin; it does not allow characters a true chance to expand. The characters exist, but their lives are not intriguing. This is not the fault of either of the Smiths, who were first paired in 2006’s “The Pursuit of Happyness.”
“Happyness” actually allowed father-son Smiths to act. “After Earth” has them interacting without emotive elements. Jaden and Will Smith are like mannequins via this script. You observe the characters, but care for them is not a concern. This is shameful when both Smiths are talented actors.
“After Earth” was a nice attempt, but its lackluster script leaves room for plenty of improvement. Jaden Smith and a few visual effects make this film interesting. However, the plot’s straightforwardness allows for little development, leaving characters distant from each other and audiences.
Grade: D+ (An after-thought.)
“Now You See Me” (Action/Crime: 1 hour, 56 minutes)
Starring: Jesse Eisenberg, Mark Ruffalo, Woody Harrelson, Isla Fisher, Dave Franco, Mélanie Laurent, Morgan Freeman and Michael Caine
Director: Louis Leterrier
Rated: PG-13 (Violence, sensuality and profanity)