Some might have rushed to the cinema to see After Earth, imagining it to be, a big sci-fi, actioner that would get the pulse racing and blow our minds. But AE is not that kinda film, nor did it try to be. Yes it contains action and is definitely sci-fi, but it is something much more refined - more Oblivion than Total Recall more Zen than Boom Bang! AE is also an environmental commentary without the annoyance of being preachy, you could call it, for the most part, Will Smith's ode to eastern philosophy and as I sat watching the film and in knowing Mister Smith is a big fan of Confucius and co, I remember thinking that he must have had a lot of input with the script and then came the credits, and it turns out that Will wrote the story.
Ultimately, AE is about addressing our fears and awakening our functionality within an environment hostile or 'alien' to us. It's about delving deep within ourselves to pull out all our training, intention and desire to fulfil a purpose - in this case to survive.
"Even before the film was released for the silver screen I guessed correctly that Will would be taking a back seat to Jaden, but the film still has him involved enough to feel his presence and I appreciated where he took his acting in this picture."
AE is also about a father's effort to teach and guide his son in how to do these things, frustratingly watching as Junior constantly crashes into his mistakes, due to his lack of experience or his all consuming fear and immaturity. I found myself slightly surprised, as some of the actions Jaden Smith is made to do, like 'take a knee' are things I've been doing for years, sometimes physically, but most of the time mentally. Then it occurred to me which audience would really understand the precepts behind this film; military personnel, martial artists, doormen, sportsman and people who use a certain type of physical/mental strategy as part of their everyday life.
Even before the film was released for the silver screen I guessed correctly that Will would be taking a back seat to Jaden, but the film still has him involved enough to feel his presence and I appreciated where he took his acting in this picture. Jaden gives a fine performance too, but the biggest accolade should go to director M. Night Shyamalan a.k.a Shamaloolooo :-) as it seems he has found his redemptive road.
After Earth is not a perfect film by any stretch, but here, we see why The Sixth Sense worked so well, as with AE , because its in the smaller, intricate, human stories, that we are delivered an idea that emotional binds, not bolts.