After Earth is a family affair, reuniting Will and Jaden Smith for the first time since the saccharine 2006 drama The Pursuit Of Happyness.
M Night Shyamalan’s sci-fi blockbuster is a perfect vehicle for Smith Snr to pass on the mantle, combining elements of I Am Legend and Independence Day with a deeply human story of a soldier struggling to connect with his grief-stricken child.
Some lovely, tender moments draw heavily on the natural chemistry between the leads.
Unfortunately, the demands of a summer blockbuster and the film’s epic scope, achieved through a blitzkrieg of digital effects, tend to overwhelm that fragile and sometimes heartbreaking humanity.
In the distant future, Earth is a devastated wasteland, uninhabited by humans who have relocated to Nova Prime.
This new planet is also home to an alien race called The Skrel, who unleash The Ursa: hideously deformed creatures which track humans by the scent of fear pheromones.
One man, general Cypher Raige (Will Smith) from The Ranger Corps, learns to overcome his fear, allowing him to walk among The Ursa undetected, slaughtering the killing machines without mercy.
Cypher’s son Kitai (Jaden Smith) trains to become a member of The Ranger Corps in order to assuage his guilt about the death of his older sister (Zoe Isabella Kravitz) but his application to The Corps is rejected.
Cypher’s wife Faia (Sophie Okonedo) implores her husband to bond with Kitai during a final mission before retirement.
While the characters only have to suppress fear to survive, the Two Smiths choose to eradicate almost all tangible emotion from their respective performances.