Film review: After Earth

AFTER EARTH (M) (100 min)

Directed by M. Knight Shyamalan. Starring Jaden Smith, Will Smith, Lincoln Lewis.

Included in the price of your ticket is a heart-warming environmental message: we killed the whales. Bad us. It’s not entirely clear whether this is causally related to the off-this-planet life the characters in this movie now all lead, but aww, it makes you feel good, doesn’t it

Real-life father and son Will and Jaden Smith play fictional father and son Cypher and Kitai Raige (give the scriptwriter the Oscar for Name-Choosing) and the film’s pretty much Kitai’s. After all, the quest, finding the courage to become a man, even the guilt- ridden flashbacks are his, though his father gets to share in those significant moments too, even if it is only via a thing strapped to the boy’s body. Actually, future technology is the winner on the day and, while I never doubted we’d get a happy resolution (it’d be a brave film-maker who killed off a teen protagonist), I did spend some time coveting all the equipment. Diagnose your own broken bone. Spread out your arms and fly. Listen to your dad back at the crashed spaceship telling you how close the monster is without even having to pick up a phone. Run son, run!

I did like the animals, after our heroes landed back on planet Earth, 1000 years after we’d all left. Without us there killing them all off and cutting down their forests and so forth, they’d gone forth and multiplied and, for the first few moments anyway, the sky was dense with swirling birds and baboons bounded around as if they’d never heard of palm oil.

And then there was a nice moment with a vast anthropomorphised eagle who learnt to care about Kitai after Kitai was kind to her – I assume it was the chicks’ mother – freshly hatched chicks. In truth, the eagle probably cared more about Kitai than the audience did. He was super-cute when he was little, though.

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