After Earth 1.0 stars

After Earth movie poster

The single star is because the setup is fine — almost great, even. Estranged father and son (Will and Jaden Smith) survive a crash landing on a hostile planet. Dad's injured, and so it's the son who must retrieve an emergency beacon from a distant chunk of wreckage. Technology will keep them in contact, and allow Dad to see what son sees. Time is against them, along with everything else. The elder Smith assumes an affecting stoicism; he's a hero because he doesn't feel fear, but he doesn't appear to feel much else, either. So much for the good stuff. The rest is absurd emotional outbursts from the unready younger Smith, absurd anthropology (fear is not, in fact, a choice; the response to fear is a choice), absurd anthropomorphism (Mama bird!), absurd expositional visions, and Signs-style alien hijinks from director M. Night Shyamalan. A dimly shot, poorly scored misfire. 2013.

Matthew Lickona

This movie is not currently in theaters.

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