After Earth
My pops coached my little league team, gave me “the talk” on two folding chairs in our garage (presumably to masculinely offset the awkwardness of the proceedings), taught me how to drive stick and showed me how to shave with a straight razor. All-in-all my dad did a pretty good job. All that being said though, if it was ever him and me crash-landing on a futuristic Earth populated with killer-evolved animals, aliens and suboptimal terrain for getting around, well we’d be pretty screwed. Poppa Norrie has a lot going for him, but survival instincts and rugged ferocity aren’t part of the package. And he didn’t exactly pass those traits down in any form to his kid. What Will and Jaden Smith go through in After Earth wouldn’t be for us. We’re more a John Irving novel and glass merlot kind of father-son team.

There are a couple of factors giving me pause about this flick. One is a feeling that while the Fresh Prince and the heir to his throne have been on the big screen together before (The Pursuit of Happiness-66%), this latest feels almost too much a family gig. It appears put together to ensure Will and Jaden could spend some quality time together, just the two of them. Without any other relevant humans on screen, I get the sense it’s some sort of weird, misguided Smith family home movie.

The other misgiving involves the directing situation. I wrote a few weeks ago about how Tyler Perry and M. Night Shyamalan were in a race to the critical bottom, how neither director conjured anything close to thoughts of critical acclaim. The difference between the two dudes is the former’s name gets attached to everything and the latter’s name can’t be found anywhere on this movie.

It’s a testament to how far Shyamalan has fallen out of favor with critics and fans alike. Sure he started off hot with The Sixth Sense (85%) and Unbreakable (68%), but the last few years have brought us The Last Airbender (6%), The Happening (17%) and Lady in the Water (24%). And now he’s relegated to the background in a movie he directed and co-wrote. I find this fascinating, though not necessarily encouraging for his latest.

Though After Earth appears to have the visual effects and requisite action for a summer blockbuster, I think it falls flat. I get the sense critics will be turned off by the father-son duo as it appears contrived and Shyamalan hasn’t done anything in the last decade that would boost any confidence in this film. Maybe the Smiths should have chosen a different kind of home movie to put on the big screen. The Rotten Watch for After Earth is 44%

Which Rotten movie will have the highest final Tomatometer score?

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