My Thoughts on After Earth
By Veronica Nkwocha
‘After Earth’ opened with scenes of a latent conflict between a father and son. We follow General Cypher Raige (Will Smith) and Kitai (Jaden Smith) into an adventure as they go on a journey from a new homeland in outer space urged on by Kitai’s mother. They plunge, a turbulent and unexpected journey to Man’s former home; an earth that looked lush and fertile, throbbing with life and hidden dangers.
It was an intensely emotional story. The helplessness a parent can feel was captured vividly; it was time, even if he was not prepared to release his treasured child into the unknown. A father unable to be the shield and provider, but still the power behind the ‘throne’ (using a futuristic communication device) as Kitai stepped out to make his mark and conquer the vast terrain that would be for them, the difference between life and death.
There were many heart stopping moments, was he equipped for the journey? Would he remember the most important lesson of all; to not fear? And the moments when the father has to look away from the images of his son when it seemed all would be lost.
The cinematography was crisp; one could almost touch the plants as the trembled in the silent breeze, the snowflakes drifted carefully as though they knew that rest would be their sure demise. The enemy alien was large, raged with a vengeance and frothed with hate for Man. The fallen eagle was majestic and called out a silent message that a kindred soul can be found in the most unusual of places.
A father and a son; the time together became a time apart and in all of the separation, they found a bond, tied into unbroken cords of love, respect and faith for tomorrow.
‘After Earth’ has had its share of criticism, The Hollywood News describes it;
“The clatter and booms from the doomed spacecraft in the first scene propel the film into top gear and will initially have you in awe, but it cannot escape the shifting down of gears as the film progresses from there on in. The special effects, as expected, are second to none and throughout the opening few scenes are faultless. But they become a tad laughable as we journey through to a set piece set around a waterfall two-thirds in.”
The Wall Street Journal notices a Scientology tint;
“I’ve never seen a movie that moves so slowly, or takes itself so seriously, which is why it doesn’t seem like a movie at all, but a sermon whose central subject is fear: “Danger is real,” the father tells the son, “but fear is a choice.” So a right question might be why “After Earth” was made. The sermon echoes a central theme of Scientology.”
The expectation from the beginning was that it would be a movie of a battle to survive against a back drop of a separation from home. In that regard, it got its job done although it did carry on to the point of being slightly tedious in parts.
There weren’t many moments of hope or laughter but there was an abundance of a relentless fear for the marooned duo. I wish there were more scenes showing a humorous side like the scene where Kitai kept running even after there were no more baboons in sight. His father said something like ‘son, you’re running away from nothing’ and the cinema erupted in laughter. It would have added more colour to the dark of ‘After Earth’.