It seems it may be entirely possible to carve a movie career out of just charming the pants off anyone you come across, look at Will Smith. He is clearly an expert at it. Out of the thirty or so titles that Smith has made appearances in, fewer than ten of the projects are what could be considered “good” films.
Let’s not mix the word “good” up with entertaining here, for to take that away from Smith would be a dreadful mistake. Smith is incredibly entertaining, some might even consider him a master of his work. When he first burst on to our small screens in the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, many already knew the actor would be a huge star with over 2 billion gross at the box office over the span of his career.
However, the question remains, is Will Smith a good actor? Unfortunately, not if After Earth is anything to go by.
Despite the fact that Will shares top billing with his son Jaden, the film flies solo with the younger Smith to the fore. Set in the future, the story revolves around a father and son who are on a training mission for their native Nova Prime but are forced to crash land on Earth following an asteroid storm. However, this is not the Earth we are familiar with, but one that was abandoned a millennium before. Cypher Raige (Will) and his son Kitai (Jaden) are the only survivors. With Cypher seriously injured, it is up to Kitai to find the tail of the ship which was lost in the crash and find a beacon which will ensure their rescue.
Now, we know you only saw Oblivion recently and although this particular project has many similarities to the Cruise film, they are not the same venture. Astonishingly, After Earth is much worse, which is in itself a sort of achievement. What it does share with the Cruise film, besides the sci-fi future Earth element, is a general love-in for the lead characters. Shyamalan barely requires his lead characters to act, rather he feels like it is enough for the audience to have the novelty of Smith and son play father and son on the big screen. Whoop-di-do.
Jaden Smith struggles to keep the entire operation afloat, clearly too young to have such a huge blockbuster on his shoulders. The running time just becomes tedious, the action scenes boring, the father/son storyline entirely predictable. Even the special effects are terrible, the CGI animals obviously computerised with no attempt to make them look any way real.
On top of the above, the film strips Will Smith of his greatest asset and advantage, his charm. Here he plays a withdrawn father struggling to deal with mistakes he has made in the past by being absent from his children’s lives, but with no real depth to his character. Smith, it could be argued, is not a good actor.
As well as this, Shyamalan has hardly had a hit over the last few years, it seems like an absolutely insane move to entrust him with a massive blockbuster. On the other hand, anyone could have directed this, the eagle from the film would have done a better job. He seemed to have a good idea about morals.
Do not waste your money, Will and Jaden are laughing all the way to the bank.