DVD Review: After Earth

En route to another planet, Kitai Raige (Jaden Smith) and his father Cypher (Will Smith) must make an emergency crash-landing on one of the deadliest worlds in their solar system – Earth. The human race was forced to leave the planet after generations of destroying and depleting it of its natural resources. Left to its own devices, Earth has become a wild kingdom of dangerous and deadly plant and animal life. Their ship split in two, Kitai must make his way across dangerous terrain to recover an electronic signal which will call for a rescue team.

After Earth is about the relationship between a father and son. It shows how a father can have unreachable expectations for his offspring but mean well at the same time. It’s also a movie about overcoming your fears and doing what you have to do to survive. Lastly, it shows one boy’s journey to becoming a man – not because he wants to, but because he has to.

Whether you want to admit it or not, every male child wants to win the approval of their father. After Earth captures this perfectly. Everything Jaden Smith’s character does during his hero’s journey is based upon what he thinks his father would do.

I really don’t understand where the animosity toward Jaden Smith comes from. He’s actually quite a good little actor. The emotions he runs through in After Earth come across as genuine and his interactions with real and CGI characters and beasts are convincing. Again, I think the media wanted to hate this kid from the get-go and just spread the disease from one outlet to the next.

The CGI and special effects in After Earth were well-executed for the most part. They weren’t perfect by any means. There were parts you could tell were obviously digitally animated. However, for the most part everything looked good.

After Earth is rated PG-13 for sci-fi action violence and some disturbing images. I can’t even recall there being any bad language in the film at all. I would suggest it for anyone over the age of 13 and can see where a father and son could use it as a portal to communicating with each other and bonding. Contrary to what many have said, I didn’t picked up any strong or dangerous Scientology messages being thrown at audiences.

The DVD version of After Earth contains a few entertaining special features. “A Father’s Legacy” shows us Jaden and Will Smith working on and off-screen together. “1,000 Years in 300 Seconds” takes viewers behind the scenes and on location with the cast and crew. “The Nature of the Future” gives us an upfront and personal view of the landscapes used in the film. Jaden Smith introduces the winning video of a contest people entered called “Xprize After Earth.”

After Earth is a casualty of pre-conceived notions by the press. People responded to the film based on the fact that Will Smith was supposedly shoving his son down our throats in a movie made by a director who’s hit a couple bumps in his career recently, but still has more good features under his belt than bad. Judged on its own, After Earth is a touching and action-packed sci-fi film with something to say about relationships between a father and son.

After Earth is available now on Blu-ray, DVD, and as a Digital Download.