After Earth (2011)

dir. M. Night Shyamalan

Although most of the promotion for After Earth desperately tried to conceal that it’s helmed by M. Night Shyamalan, the ruse fails immediately upon simply watching the movie. It so obviously embodies the worst of Shymalan: awkward close-ups, contrived plotting, characters so pretentious they refuse to ever speak in contractions. Will Smith and Jaden Smith play a father and son stranded on a hostile planet, fighting to survive, and it’s quite clear the Smith family saw After Earth as a personal opportunity to boost the family brand, especially considering the original story idea actually came from Will Smith himself. There’s so much grimacing, monologuing and posturing, their characters may as well have been called Tough Guy and Son of Tough Guy. They take everything so utterly seriously, with such fierce grimness in their voices at every syllable, that it makes the entire ludicrous scenario extra hilarious. After Earth was supposed to be about the Smiths, not Shyamalan – the absolute lunacy of each manages to eclipse the other.

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