Sunday, 9 June 2013


Considering that this is an elaboration upon a concept from one of the world's most popular actors, and that the script was subjected to rewrites from two Oscar-winners, and that it's the first film which M. Night Shyamalan has agreed to make using another's screenplay, and that star Will Smith effectively co-directed the film, you know it's got to take a real bozo to fuck it up. Thing is, Shyamalan is a real bozo. Having made a handful of good (if flawed) films, he has been reduced to the most consistently awful director working in mainstream American film, and it's wholly of his own doing, even if this turkey wasn't. 1,000 years ago, humankind left the Earth they'd destroyed (ENVIRONMENTAL MESSAGE! - NOT FULLY DEVELOPED!) for a new planet they imaginatively named 'Nova Prime'. On Nova Prime, everybody speaks with a mid-Atlantic-meets-South-African accent which nobody can maintain. I once heard that the Essex accent is the most advanced in the English-speaking world; evidently the spaceships never got as far as Billericay. They don't seem to have TV nor cinema, which may be a blessing, since that way they never have to see The Last Airbender. Will and Jaden Smith are on a spaceship which crash-lands on Earth - this is supposedly an extremely dangerous environment, despite the fact that Nova Prime is inhabited by indigenous monsters which like to eat humans, and have every right to, since we invaded their planet. Earth is, by now, a pretty lush-looking place, which may make you wonder why we don't just leave now, yet is photographed in such typically umbrous tones by Peter Suschitzky that you'd better hope he's not taking the pictures when we all get back to Earth. It doesn't help that Shyamalan shoots almost everything in cramped close-ups, never allowing his scenery to look as stunning as it ought to. Apparently, on Earth, temperatures drop 30 degrees C every night - I bloody wish they did, I'm baked! Shyamalan is a master at finding the worst thing a character could say at any given moment, and he puts his skills to thorough use in After Earth. The rancid stench of Scientology that seeps from the whole enterprise is no shock when one recalls whose brainchild this was. Columbia spent $130 million on this, all of which they could have given to charity. Just remember that.