The Stanly News and Press (Albemarle, NC)

Opinion & Letters to the Editor

July 11, 2013

After Earth: Does It Deserve a Wider Audience After All?

Thursday, July 11, 2013 — Since its release there has been a lot of buzz about the small box office gross for “After Earth.” (At the time I finished this review, the film had grossed $56 million in 20 days. “Iron Man 3” made that much in one day.) It seems the film has not made money as quickly as most of Will Smith’s films have. Allow me to offer a clarification. This is not a Will Smith movie. He is a supporting character in a film centered on the protagonist played by Will’s son, Jaden Smith.

While there is much shock around a Smith film that is not rolling in the dollars, no one seems to be writing about the fact that the director, M. Night Shyamalan has had bigger successes as well. Several of his films have been quite lucrative: “The Sixth Sense” ($293 million), “Signs” ($227 million) and “The Village” ($114 million). Shyamalan has not been as successful lately as he used to be; his adaptation of “The Last Airbender” cost more than it made. But if you are going to blame Smith for the box office struggles of “After Earth,” I think Shyamalan should be included in the discussion. He has, not so long ago, made movies that filled theaters.

With all that said, I regret that “After Earth” has not found a larger audience. It is a solid film. The story is not epic, but focuses on one family, particularly a son and father, but the mother and sister have significant roles as well in the plot. Ultimately it is a small simple story, told well.

It is not as strong a sci-fi film as the new “Star Trek,” but it is vastly superior to the very similar “Oblivion” from earlier this year. Both “Oblivion” and “After Earth” tell of our planet in the distant future. “Oblivion” seemed to be rehashed elements from other films; “After Earth” successfully tells a new story.   

Here are some of the strengths of “After Earth.” Visually, the film is almost always amazing. Stunning creatures abound, settings are exquisite, and the crash scene reminds viewers that anything visual is possible these days.

There are some strong moments in the screenplay, and it even boasts the best two lines of closing dialogue I have heard this year. The flashbacks in the film work well to give the story more resonance and character development. Twists and surprises do not seem forced but natural for the development of the story. And the ending satisfied. (Unlike“Oblivion” that left me with a feeling of disappointment and dissatisfaction.)

One other strength is the chemistry between father and son Smiths. The early scenes they have together seem very natural and true.

The one thing that was missing for me was a surprise ending. Director Shyamalan used to play that card a lot. His more recent films have not had the twists of his earlier works (“Sixth Sense,” “Unbreakable,” “Signs” and “The Village)” but I still hoped this one might. I had even speculated to a friend on what the twist might be. But alas, there is no climatic surprise, just a satisfying ending that I endorse.  

After seeing this film with my young son, I listened to him retell the story of the film to someone else. He told it with great enthusiasm and detail. Then he praised the film and highly recommended it. Perhaps taking after his father, he is becoming quite the critic. “After Earth” is not one of the best films of this year so far, but as my son Henry said, “It is so good that you should see it.”

Roger Thomas reviews films for The Stanly News & Press and thesnaponline.com.

1
Text Only
Opinion & Letters to the Editor
  • taylor.armerding.jpg Obama's equal pay exaggeration leads us all into danger

    The president's claims of national shame over gender-based pay inequity spring from distorted calculations, as well as some convenient political math.

    April 12, 2014 1 Photo

  • Teens trading naked selfies for mugshots

    Will teenagers ever learn? You think yours will. Maybe so. But it's likely that was also the hope of the parents of children who were so shamed by nude photos of themselves that went south - how else can they go - that they killed themselves.

    April 12, 2014

  • Brent Laurenz If you want to vote in primary, you need to register to vote now

    RALEIGH – North Carolina voters will head to the polls on May 6 this year to cast ballots in important primary elections across the state.

    April 11, 2014 1 Photo

  • Scott Mooneyham Heeding the voter fraud call in N.C.

    RALEIGH – Legislators found the findings outrageous.

    April 11, 2014 1 Photo

  • Doug Creamer Roots

    I took a few minutes over the weekend to enjoy our yard and the arrival of spring. There seems to be so much work that needs to be done, it is hard to decide what to do first. I am excited that I got to run my tiller through the garden. I didn’t go very deep, but I did at least break up the soil. I have a couple of raised beds and the soil in them was in very good shape. I didn’t plant my peas and now after the big rain we got on Monday I realize that I missed a window of opportunity.

    April 11, 2014 1 Photo

  • 10 tips for surviving a severe allergy season

    My colleague Brady Dennis reported recently that the arrival of warmer weather will soon unleash a pollen tsunami in parts of the country where the winter has been especially long and cold. Here are some survival tips from Clifford W. Bassett, an allergy specialist and assistant clinical professor of medicine at the New York University School of Medicine.

    April 11, 2014

  • Is a paleo vegetarian diet possible?

    Research shows most people can follow a regimented eating plan for a short time. That's not the challenge. The challenge is finding a healthful eating plan you can follow day after day and achieve your long-term health goals. At this point, it doesn't appear that the paleo eating plan meets these objectives for most people.

    April 10, 2014

  • Screen Shot 2014-04-08 at 2.16.35 PM.png Are Americans smart to stop drinking diet sodas?

    Recent data from Beverage Digest suggest many are cutting back on diet sodas. Consumption of diet sodas fell more than that of sugary sodas in 2013. This raises two questions: Why is total consumption declining, and is drinking diet soda harmful to health?

    April 10, 2014 1 Photo

  • To get quality care, it helps to be the right kind of patient

    I am a family physician. Sometimes I must step out of the comfort of my clinical role and into that of patient or family caregiver. Generally, these trips to the other side of the exam table inspire a fair amount of anxiety.

    April 10, 2014

  • Hospice of Stanly County should be the one we support

    Regarding your recent article about Community Hospice relocating its offices from one location in Troy to another, let me point out a few things.

    April 10, 2014

House Ads
Seasonal Content