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After Earth is the new summer sci-fi thriller from director M. Night Shyamalan.  Shyamalan’s career got off to a great start with hits such as The Sixth Sense, Unbreakable, and Signs; but his work of late, The Happening and The Last Airbender, has not been well received by critics and audiences alike.  The movie stars father and son combo Will and Jaden Smith.  They also appeared together in 2006’s The Pursuit of Happyness when Jaden was only 8 years old.  The story is based on an original idea by Will Smith and was co-written by himself and Shyamalan.

Humans evacuate Earth after numerous cataclysmic events force them to leave and are transported to the planet Nova Prime to set-up a new society.  Alien creatures already inhabit this planet, but General Cypher Raige (Will Smith) has learned how to defeat them and heads up the Ranger Corps to keep peace.  His son, Kitai (Jaden Smith), wants nothing more than to be a soldier like his father, but he’s unable to pass his field test.  Cypher decides to take Kitai on his latest mission, but the mission is derailed when their ship is damaged by an asteroid storm.  The ship is forced to crash land on Earth which has now been unoccupied for over one thousand years.  Cypher and Kitai are the only survivors of the crash, and Cypher is badly hurt and unable to walk.  The rescue beacon is in the tail of the ship and Kitai must trek across the hostile terrain in order to recover it or both him and his father are going to die.  Not only does Kitai have to worry about the unfamiliarity of Earth, there was also an Alien creature in the tail of the ship that he must face off against.

For those of you that have followed M. Night Shyamalan’s career over the years, After Earth is definitely more like The Last Airbender than The Sixth Sense, which isn’t necessarily a good thing.  Although, After Earth isn’t nearly as bad as The Last Airbender.  This is a big summer blockbuster that relies too heavily on CGI and special effects which leaves the story pretty flat.  Shyamalan made a name for himself early in his career with creative writing and being able to sneak up on the audience with a major plot twist.  After Earth has none of that.  The story is very basic and you can pretty much guess everything that’s going to happen from the beginning, but most people aren’t necessarily going to see this movie because of the story line.  The CGI is very good and the scenery of the movie is gorgeous.  As for the acting, Will Smith is great in everything he does in my opinion and I’d actually like to see more of him on the big screen.  That said, this is a very different Will Smith than we’re accustomed to.  He plays his part very straight and we don’t get to see his sense of humor or his sparkling personality.  I kept thinking to myself that he only took this part as a favor to his son.  Speaking of his son, Jaden Smith has a long way to go before he enters the ranks with his dad.  Maybe it was just me, but it almost seemed like he was speaking with an accent through some of the movie and other times he wasn’t, which was really weird because neither his mom nor his dad had an accent.  On top of that, he narrated the movie and I found it very distracting.  I guess this review sounds pretty negative up to this point, but the movie as a whole wasn’t that bad and it was fairly entertaining.  This is a movie parents can take their kids to see now that school’s out, although there are some pretty scary creatures that might scare the little ones.  I feel as though the marketing has steered away from featuring Shyamalan’s name because it almost carries a negative connotation these days.  Hopefully he can start to turn his career back in the right direction, but I don’t think that is going to happen with After Earth.

Grade:  C

After Earth open on Friday, May 31.