After Earth has been surprisingly divisive among reviewers and audiences, with opinions ranging from those who consider it a pleasantly entertaining bit of filmmaking from maligned director M. Night Shyamalan to those who have declared it in step with his recent string of duds and possibly the worst movie of 2013 so far. I understand both of these views to an extent. I found it to be something of an improvement over outright disasters like The Happening and Lady in the Water, in that I didn’t hate every single second of it. In fact, I found it to be mildly enjoyable, which surprised me coming from Shyamalan and the relatively untested starpower of Jaden Smith. There was a decent number of things in the film to admire.
The biggest obstacle for Shyamalan to my mind continues to be his inability to recognize things in his movie that are just awkward. It’s not that they don’t serve their intended purpose; it’s just that in doing so, these moments have a tendency to take people out of the story and draw unintended laughs or quizzical looks that have us thinking about the filmmaker rather than the film. And part of this is certainly the fact that he has this personal artistic reputation that may be getting in the way of positive reception to his movies, but even so, this could be alleviated by simply crafting a solid movie. Although After Earth has more solid moments and sequences than previous efforts, there are still enough gaps that cause us to shake our heads that the movie doesn’t quite feel like a successful whole. For a character-driven action story, that gets in the way of potentially sound storytelling. Maybe. I’m sure others feel differently.
Here are 5 examples of things about After Earth that are distractingly odd.
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