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US critics pan M Night Shyamalan's After Earth

Ater Earth

Story by Jack Foley

CRITICS in America have been lining up to slate After Earth, the new film from M Night Shyamalan starring Will and Jaden Smith.

The film follows a teenager named Kitai Raige (Jaden Smith) and his father Cypher (Will Smith) after they become stranded on Earth, 1,000 years after cataclysmic events forced humanity’s escape.

With Cypher critically injured, Kitai must embark on a perilous journey to signal for help, facing uncharted terrain, evolved animal species that now rule the planet, and an unstoppable alien creature that escaped during the crash.

The film is based, in part, on an idea by Smith and opens in UK cinemas next week (June 7), one week after its US debut.

But so far, the early word isn’t good.

Rolling Stone said of the film: “After Earth merits comparison with 2000’s Battlefield Earth, John Travolta’s godawful film tribute to the sci-fi novel by Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard. Yes, it’s that bad.”

Variety, meanwhile, wrote: “The last time M. Night Shyamalan tried his hand at a big-budget ‘Man vs. Wild’ episode, with 2008’s The Happening, the unseen villainess was none other than Mother Nature herself. In the decided non-happening that is Shyamalan’s latest, After Earth, the threats lurking on a post-apocalyptic blue planet include baboons, predatory birds and a giant alien beastie that looks like a rejected prototype from H.R. Giger’s workshop.”

The New York Times said: “Mr. Smith and his wife, Jada Pinkett Smith, are producers on After Earth, which suggests that there was no one on the production who could really say no to him.”

And USA Today opined: “Though it’s meant to be pulse-pounding, After Earth is a lethargic slog.”

Newsday wrote: “After Earth isn’t just chaotic and desperate – and grindingly slow – it’s also lazy.”

And Time magazine stated: “After Earth may lack the neck-swiveling awfulness of Shyamalan’s The Last Airbender, but it quickly sinks in its logorrheic solemnity.”

The Hollywood Reporter concludes this round-up with the following: “The disappointingly generic film, which strands a father and son (Will and Jaden Smith) on Earth a thousand years after a planet-wide evacuation, will leave genre audiences pining for the more Terra-centric conceits of Oblivion, not to mention countless other future-set films that find novelty in making familiar surroundings threatening.”

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