Recently, I watched the highly anticipated 2013 sci-fi survival release After Earth, staring Will Smith and his (at the time of recording he was 14) 15 year old son Jaden Smith, and I was quite impressed with the film as a whole, particularly the visuals, the emersion into the basic need to survive throughout the film, and the story.
After watching the film, I looked online to see what other people thought and I was surprised to see how many people hated it, and how poorly it was rated on websites such as IMDB (5/10) and Rotten tomatoes (11%). After Earth has received an awful lot of criticism from film casuals and lovers alike since its release, with the most frequently used words in the negative reviews from top critics being 'boring', 'slow-paced', 'poorly-acted', and even 'a disaster'. some also regarded it to be a 90 minute sleeping pill, and questioned where the $130,000,000 budget went to.
I have to admit the film had its flaws, a lot of which came from Jaden's less than impressive performance as Kitai, and in a picture where he is one of the 2 actors in 90% of the scenes, this really showed. It was in fact Jadens performance that was the reason for a good portion of the poor reviews, as he didn't seem to have much of an acting range in his facial expressions or vocal delivery of the lines, aside from looking dopey faced with a slight touch of 'the lights are on but no one is home', and he was quite often mumbling his words (basically he was playing a typical 14 year old). obviously Jaden hasn't been receiving many lessons from father dearest. Though in his defence he may have been asked to act in that way due to that his character is meant to be a tough up coming army cadet with fatherly neglect issues.
I also noticed a little piece of inconsistency, as the cutlass that Kitai (played by Jaden) has in his backpack seems to go missing just before he goes into the river after the chase in the woods. @SPOILER ALERT HERE@ = There is also the bit at the end of the film where Kitai has to get on top of the volcano that is creating the disruptive cloud stopping his signal beacon working, to get it to work.
Although these let downs impacted peoples opinion on the film, it isn't without its positives and charm. The story (which was created by Will Smith himself) is well structured, despite being quite basic, and had me interested throughout. If you can stay interested beyond the slow start prior to the 'landing', you can get immersed into the 'New Earth', and the struggle that Jaden has with both the threats on the planet, and the problems he has with his father who is guiding him to his objective. Another good element is that It gives a serious touch to the relationship between a father and son without the unrealistic over-bearing sickly sweet moments of other films. The film content offers food-for-thought on how the eco system could adapt to us for those who like to delve into the grim future, and the story also gives a message of regardless of what technological state we as a race are at, the basic human instincts will always be with us.
As for the visuals, using the jungles of Costa Rica gave dividends for the foliage and the non-CGI'd animals. The special effects on the space scenes, and the contents on the 'New Earth' such as the animals were without any flaws. The sound editing was very much the same as the visuals, nothing to company about. The acting from Will Smith was up to his usually good standard, playing a serious, no nonsense ranger general with literally no fear, once again doing his reputation well, although people would disagree, and the delivery from the less prominent characters was also good for all the 5-10 minutes they are in it.
Personally I think that people have been rather harsh on the film, slating its story and script delivery, though I do accept the criticism regarding the pace. People haven't mentioned the good work on the visuals, the location finding, sound, and the acting of every one aside from Jaden. The best way to watch this film is to disregard what you have heard from people, watch with an open mind, and make your own mind up on the film.
To wrap this up, I think that After Earth has the potential to become a sci-fi great, if someone was willing to take the idea and expand on the universe beyond two characters, but with a different director (M. Night Shyamalan.....just why? he didn't have the best reputation prior to this film). It has been announced that this film is meant to be the first of a trilogy (news to many peoples despair), so maybe giving more insight into what happened on earth which lead to the humans abandoned the planet, or maybe do a little more on the war on the new planet Nova Prime with the aliens might remove that 'boring' element about the film, and regain some of the lost faith.