It does not seem like it was 2006 when I first saw Jaden Smith on the big screen with his father, Will, in The Pursuit of Happyness and the father/son actors earned many fans. The young actor went on to be seen in such films as The Day the Earth Stood Still and The Karate Kid.
Now seven years later, it is Jaden who has the leading role in After Earth, a story penned by his father for them and pitched to M. Night Shyamalan, who directs the film and co-wrote the screenplay with Gary Whitta. While I do like the overall story for the film, I did not go into the film expecting to be surprised by anything I did not already anticipate – the teen character steps up to the challenge and he succeeds. Period.
This is not to say I dismiss the film; on the contrary, it is a good family film on the basis of the story itself between a father and his teen son, but After Earth is rated PG-13 by the Motion Picture Association of America for sci-fi action, violence and some disturbing images. It is a good idea to seriously consider not taking anyone to this film who does not like viewing animals in a dangerous situation, or viewing those that do not survive an attack from a predator that is trained to destroy. The film is set in a time when Earth is not as we know it now, but how it is after it has been destroyed and all humans leave it behind. It may look lush and green, but do we really know what is out there?
The film is beautifully shot in many parts of the world to get the right scenes, including Humboldt Redwoods State Park in California, Costa Rica in Central America, near the Arenal Volcano and the Sarapiqui River through the La Selva Biological Research Station, the desert near Moab, Utah, glaciers in Iceland and the Eiger in Switzerland. After Earth’s director of photography, Peter Suschitzky, is to be commended for the excellent cinematography that spans the globe.
Anxious to rise to the rank of the Rangers, a young teen, Kitai Raige (Jaden Smith) and his father, Cypher (Will Smith) travel together for some quality time aboard a space ship and encounter problems. The closest place to land a ship in distress is the planet Earth that was no longer inhabited by humans. With so much death and damage upon the travelers, it is up to Kitai to get the needed instrument to call for help. It is just getting there that is the trick!
Source: Columbia Pictures