Friday, June 14, 2013

After Earth

After Earth - 89min – PG-13

This is the latest film from M. Night Shyamalan. I know, I know, many of you groan when you hear he is making more movies. I am a fan and I have not been quiet about my appreciation for him as a filmmaker. I truly enjoy the stories that he tells and his eye for shot composure is wonderful. I even like his signature movie of filming a character in reflection. He has a reputation of providing a hook with the movies but I have learned to not look for the hook just watch and enjoy the ride. It’s a bit like when you watching a magic trick and trying to figure out how the trick was done, you miss out on the show. He has seemed to be out of the hook phase and is now focusing on just telling straight forward stories. This movie is a green light from me, and no, not just because it was from Mr. Shyamalan…ok, maybe a little bit.

Cypher Raige (Will Smith) and his son, Kitai Raige (Jaden Smith), crash land on planet Earth, but the Earth has been evacuated for a millennium. The planet has become a very hostile place. Kitai has to traverse the landscape and get to a distress beacon located a few days journey through this harsh environment alone to save himself and his injured father.

This was a good adventure story with an undercurrent of relationship dynamics that play well in the development of the characters. The father and son are not close as Cypher is a typical military father who is distant and shows almost no emotion. I think this was a good stretch for Will Smith as he usually plays very passionate and animated characters. I like it when an actor breaks out of type and takes risks with different characters.

Jaden is growing as an actor, this role has a lot more emotional baggage to deal with than his previous roles but I think he did well. A friend of mine once said he has talent but needs more craft. This was primarily Jaden’s movie. His father was an important role but all eyes are on Jaden to carry this film.

As I understand it Will Smith wanted to do a movie about a father and son stranded in the forest and brought it to Gary Whitta and they transformed it into a stranded on Earth in the far future. Gary Whitta has my attention because I have enjoyed almost all of his work. He also wrote the Book of Eli and an episode of the video game version of The Walking Dead. I am going to have to look at Prey -- the other game he worked on.

Warning Spoilers !!!!! Only Rangers beyond this point!!!!!

Kitai’s internal conflict stems from his attempts at impressing his father. He tries to become a ranger but has personal emotional demons that hold him back. His sister, Senshi (Zoe Kravitz), was a ranger and died saving his life from the hostile alien life form known as Ursa who can smell fear. Her performance was short but very well done. Her connection to her father was very present in the few scenes she was in.

I thought the movie was a bit heavy-handed in its environmental message. You can set the same stage by saying something as simple as The Earth was used up and unable to support human life. I know this is a rip off of Firefly but it is an excellent example of how you can express something without being preachy.

As preachy as the message was, they did follow through on the making that fact a big part of how the technology was made, it seems very organic and it blended well between the leather look of the uniform and the how technology blended in with it. I liked how it changed colors to fit the need of the wearer, white for illness of physical problem, and black when danger was near. Ooh wait! It was peril sensitive overalls.

Do you think the movie was overly complicated in its concept or were you ok with how it was presented?

-By the by
I am back to regular writing I might catch up on the ones I missed but I am going to focus on movies I see going forward.