Reviewed by: Thaisha Geiger
Sci-Fi Action Adventure
1 hr. 40 min.
Year of Release:
May 31, 2013 (wide)
DVD: October 8, 2013
“Danger is real. Fear is a choice.”
Even before its official release date, “After Earth” was already being pegged as one of the worst films of the year. And though I try to avoid reading reviews for movies I’m assigned, news sites showed no mercy in bashing the collaboration of Will Smith and M. Night Shyamalan. Well, I say to ignore those critics! Though definitely not a member of the stellar movie club, “After Earth” is still enjoyable, if one watches it for what it is: a simple story of a boy’s journey in conquering his fears in front of his stern father’s eyes.
In the future, Earth is destroyed by pollution, and the humans are forced to leave. They find refuge on another planet called Nova Prime; inhabiting this new place does not come easily, since the planet’s creatures can detect humans by sensing their mortal fear. The ruthless monsters utilize this ability to track down and kill humans.
In an attempt to bond with his estranged son Kitai (Jaden Smith), Cypher Raige (Will Smith) invites the teen along for one of his routine trips to another planet. After encountering an asteroid storm, they’re forced into a crash landing on the now primitive Earth. With the plane broken into two sections, the emergency beacon from the second part of the plane must be retrieved. Due to massive injury, Cypher is unable to travel the treacherous distance, and now Kitai must embark on the journey himself, with his father only being able to aid him by voice.
There isn’t much more to the plot. Perhaps the movie’s flaw was using an enormous budget to relay a rather straightforward story of a father and son bonding through dire circumstances and overcoming a misunderstanding from the past. We aren’t given much information on Nova Prime, the futuristic culture, or government. Aside from this, the movie does well in showing the different trials through which Kitai suffers.
The relationship between Kitai and Cypher isn’t perfect: there’s intimidation, lying, disobedience, but much is learned. Kitai’s disregard for his father isn’t completely far fetched, considering how he thinks his father feels about him (Ephesians 6:4). And though Cypher can be rather harsh with his son (Proverbs 15:1), he’s also honest and gives Kitai objective guidance.
There is one use of “d_mn” and 1 or 2 “OMG”. There is only a brief narrative of humans destroying Earth and how the animals on Earth have now “evolutionized” to kill humans.
However, there is quite a bit of violence, which might scare younger children. Several men are shown impaled in trees. The monster is able to sense fear, so its chasing and attacking Kitai is intense. Kitai is shown stabbing the creature several times. During a flashback, a character is stabbed through the chest by a creature; this is shown only by a shadow. Some dismembered monkeys are shown in a pile; Cypher does surgery on himself to reroute a ruptured artery. During a dream, Kitai quickly sees a partially decayed face. Kitai has a severe allergic reaction to an animal bite, and his face gets grotesque and swollen.
If you’re looking for a decent action flick with low objectionable content, I recommend “After Earth”. Strong after-movie discussions can occur on the importance of bravery and faith when one faces seemingly impossible tasks (Matt 19:26). Families can also discuss the value of being honest, respectful, and what Scripture says about fear (Psalm 27:1/Psalm 56:3-4). A very loosely connected parallel could be made when King David told his son, Solomon to not fear building the temple, since God would be with him (1 Chronicles 28). I cannot imagine how daunting a task that must have been for the future king of Israel.
Violence: Heavy / Profanity: Minor / Sex/Nudity: Minor
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