When Will Smith makes a new movie, people come out in droves to see it. But will critics love it as much as audiences? It’s tough to say, especially in the case of “After Earth,” co-starring Smith’s son Jaden and directed by M. Night Shyamalan, whose pedigree has fallen a bit since his days as Hollywood’s biggest purveyor of twist endings.
Not that any of those hesitations are real problems for regular moviegoers; the movie may be fantastically entertaining, a massive success that keeps Smith at the top of the industry food chain. But before you make any decisions on which movie to watch this weekend, check out the reviews below.
The Shyamalan Comparison
“Shyamalan continues to passionately search for the elusive project that will elevate him back into the storytelling stratosphere he once occupied following the universal acceptance of his rug-pulling ’The Sixth Sense.’ And he may have found it with his latest film. That’s not to say this movie is nearly as airtight an endeavor as ’Sense,’ because it isn’t. But the loyal Night watchers who were deeply disappointed by his last few forays into moviemaking, ’The Happening’ and ’The Last Airbender,’ will find enough to enjoy once they accept ’After Earth’ for what it is: a subdued, small survival story with a calculated family hook that softens the sci-fi so it can aim at young adults and their parents.” — Sean O’Connell, Cinema Blend
“Despite more corn than Mel Gibson grows on his farm in ’Signs’ (another Shyamalan effort), ’After Earth’ is worth a look. With a production design that mixes futuro-tech with a hippie Pier 1 aesthetic, this [is a] beautifully shot tale…. [It’s] refreshing in that it’s not rife with fast-cuts, whooshing camera shots, and overblown visual effects. The Ursa and the baboons, a pack of predatory feline beasts, and a giant condorlike bird are all rendered in expert CGI, seamlessly embedded in the action.” — Steven Rea, Philadelphia Inquirer
“For the most part it is an uninteresting slog alleviated only by the occasional unintended laugh and moments of visual beauty. Mr. Shyamalan generally torpedoes his movies with overweening self-seriousness. But here and there he also offers up an image — as with a close-up of Kitai’s [Jaden] face dusted with glistening snowflakes — that rises out of the torpor.” — Manohla Dargis, The New York Times
“The young Smith has energy, but not the acting chops. And he’s no miracle worker. The burden of carrying this dull, lifeless movie is just too much.” — Peter Travers, Rolling Stone
The Final Word
” ’After Earth’ is very straightforward, and there is a sincerity to it that is easily mocked but also admirable in an age where almost everything has a sort of winking post-modern stance. There are certainly choices here that baffle me, like naming a character “Cypher Raige’ or some of the dialogue that sounds like it comes out of a self-empowerment seminar, but for the most part, I think this is a strong example of a certain type of film that rarely gets made these days…. “After Earth” seems like a movie that would be beloved by a generation of kids if it had come out between 1983 and 1989.” — Drew McWeeney, Hitfix
Check out everything we’ve got on “After Earth.”