Michael C here. The staggering failure of M. Night Shyamalan’s post-Signs career does not need another chronicling here. Suffice it to say that to approach a new film of his with high expectations would require insane, borderline Little Orphan Annie levels of optimism.
Not that you would know from the trailer that After Earth is the latest M. Night Shyamalan opus since his name appears in the preview exactly zero times. Clearly the studio got word of the peals of laughter the Devil trailer received with its “From the Mind of M. Night Shyamalan” title card.
No this trailer is all about top world box office star Will Smith and his transparent mission to anoint son Jaden heir to his box office throne. Also there seems to be some stuff about crash landing on a strange and dangerous planet in the distant future that turns out to be…wait for it…Earth! Twist!
- I’ll say this for Shyamalan: He has a patience that is increasingly rare among directors. Are there any other blockbusters willing to hold shots as long as his movies? This could lead to a sci-fi epic that is defiantly unlike anything in theaters.
- It appears they took my advice and got Mr. Shyamalan a co-writer, namely Oscar winner Stephen Gaghan best known for writing such flicks as Traffic and Syriana. His script polishing will hopefully reign in many of M. Night’s writerly excesses.
- Surely Will Smith Inc. wouldn’t risk the brand on yet another M. Night Shyamalan fiasco? Perhaps this could be the end of M. Night the laughingstock, and the start of M. Night, director of competent blockbusters. More impersonal perhaps, but also much less likely to sweep the Razzies.
- At this point aren’t we obligated to support any blockbuster that is not a sequel, prequel, or remake?
- You may have noticed that I have yet to mention anything in the trailer. I was determined to remain positive for at least part of this post.
- It’s usually a good sign when Smith isn’t mugging horribly, but I get the impression it’s because Shyamalan bans all inflection from his sets. What is this man’s love affair with monotone line readings?
- Last time M. Night left his gimmicky sub-Twilight Zone headspace we got Airbender. And cowriter aside the monologue that plays over the trailer still has an unmistakable Ed Wood ring to it. Sorry to go there, but how is self-serious claptrap like this…
Fear is not real. It is the product of thoughts you create. Now do not misunderstand. Danger is very real. But fear is a choice.
…not supposed to remind me of this…
We are all interested in the future, for that is where you and I are going to spend the rest of our lives. And remember my friend; future events such as these will affect you in the future.
- Will Smith has a perfect right to do whatever he wants with his power and money, including buy his son a film career. And for all I know Jaden Smith is a natural actor, overflowing with talent and charisma. Still, the transparent nepotism on display is a pretty tough pill to swallow. Plus, according to the synopsis, Jaden is the real star, handling the bulk of the action while his father is remains injured in the space shuttle, so the trailer may be guilty of misleading as to the size of Will's role.
- You don’t hear it in the trailer but Will Smith’s character is named Cypher Raige. I repeat, Cypher Raige. Yeah.
- It’s pretty clear that this is a not as godawful as Shyamalan’s last few films. Damning with faint praise to be sure, but absent are the glaring red flags that marked stuff like Lady in the Water as a looming disaster.
- You can usually count on M. Night for some memorable visuals no matter how schlocky the material. The cinematographer is the brilliant Peter Suschitzky, collaborator on all of David Cronenberg’s movies. On the other hand, Airbender was shot by Oscar winner Andrew Lesnie (Babe, Lord of the Rings) and we know how that turned out.
- Who are these characters? Why did they leave Earth? Why are they back? What are those ships and why are they shooting lasers? The trailer doesn’t say. Maybe there are cool, logical explanations to all those questions, but with Shyamalan I’d say the risk of an incoherent, convoluted mythology is high.
- That base jumping gliding suit is kind of neat, I guess.
So mark me down as a solid no. Unless, hold on, could this be a covert sequel to Plan 9 From Outer Space, the same way Prometheus was a covert prequel to Alien? Maybe they had to leave Earth because the Earthlings destroyed it. Destroyed it with their stupid minds! Stupid! Stupid!