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YMMV / After Earth

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  • Alternative Character Interpretation: Critics of the film (particularly RedLetterMedia, The Spoony Experiment, and the Blank Check podcast) have claimed that the plot makes more sense when viewed as an allegory of Jaden Smith's career and how he is being forced to unrealistically live up to his father's legacy.
  • Dork Age: Shyamalan's first serious effort to win back audiences proved to fare little better than his last four films, and did little to help the careers of Will and Jaden Smith.
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  • Everyone Is Jesus in Purgatory: The movie has been interpreted as being about the Church of Scientology. It does feature a boy who learns how to suppress his negative emotions to beat a demon on a volcano. Considering Scientology's reputation, this may also double as Everyone Is Satan in Hell.
  • Memetic Mutation
  • Misblamed: M. Night Shyamalan ended up getting the brunt of the criticism for the film even though the film was really Will Smith's brainchild, though that's not to say Shyamalan is completely blameless for the film's execution.
  • Narm:
    • A villainous creature in the film is called an Ursa, meaning "bear". For those who haven't seen the film yet but read reviews or to those that know the meaning of "ursa", the name could make some believe that Will and Jaden are up against an alien space bear.
      • The Ursa are blind. Worse, when someone Ghosts against them, they can't sense them at all. So apparently they have no senses other than sensing fear. That's not frightening, that's sad. How do they even navigate the terrain?
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    • The intro introduces a bunch of plot points and themes like a Green Aesop and freakin' aliens that the film just as quickly forgets about.
    • Cypher Raige. That's either awesomely stupid or stupidly awesome.
    • The final act plays out like trying to find a signal for a cellphone, especially with Kitai checking for a connection every few feet.
    • Kitai's dream on the raft, which ends with a horror movie-style reveal of his sister's mangled corpse, might seem like something out of a different movie.
    • The eagle's cawing sounds unfortunately like "fuck".
    • The South Korean version of the film features a very cheerful K-pop song by Jay Park during the end credits that's about partying and really has nothing to do with the film.
    • "I'm not a coward! You're the coward!"
    • Cypher keeping Kitai at the dinner table in his only outward non-Dull Surprise emotion of the movie: "DENIED! SIT DOWN!"
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    • The accents, a mix of various dialects that sound like a whole lot of weird nothing, with "Erf" and "Uhrrsa", becoming memetic. According to Will Smith, the intention was to create an accent that sounded otherworldly. Adam Johnston of mentioned that, aside from being an instant Narm recipe, you're going to get a very inconsistent accent without some very clear pronunciation guidelines.
    • "My suit's turned black! I like it, but I think it's something bad."
    • Jaden's voice cracking when he declares "No, Dad!" caused it to be this. Note that this was supposed to be the big moment in the film where he stands up to his overly authoritative father.
    • There's also the delivery of this line from Kitai: "What was your mistake? Trusting meEE?!". The way Jaden Smith pronounces the last word almost sounds like a screeching cat.
    • After a line by "Cypher Raige" that everything on earth has evolved to kill humans we get a scene where an eagle that had previous tried to feed Kitai to her chicks sacrifices herself to the cold to save Kitai. Not only is this something no wild animal would do, the fact that an eagle that lives in an area where it freezes every night would not have have some defense against the cold further breaks willing suspension of disbelief.
    • The very idea of Will Smith's character being renowned for his lack of emotion has caused a fair amount of snark bait. Sure enough we get a role where a legendary actor essentially doesn't act for the entirety of the movie.
  • Special Effects Failure: Some of the wildlife in the film stands out as obviously CGI, especially the sabretooth-inspired cats. In addition, much of the CGI has a strangely grainy quality to it that is very hard to ignore, and most of the scenes which are completely computer-generated look fairly primitive compared to contemporaneous (2013) standards. Part of the issue is that the film was shot in 4k resolution while the CG was only rendered in 2k.
  • The Scrappy: Both Cipher and Kitai Raige, due to their actors acting chops not being up to par with any of their previous outings and especially the latter for being Unintentionally Unsympathetic; this isn't helped by the fact that they are the sole focus of all the action in the film.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot
    • The intro depicts humanity fighting with a powerful alien race over a declared homeworld, and that the fear-smelling aliens were only a monster the aliens sicced on humanity. Instead of focusing on what is a very important and hard-to-ignore part of the setting, the movie is about exploring a father-son relationship as the two struggle to survive in a hostile landscape, cut off from civilization. Ultimately, the plot is inconsequential to the setting.
    • The original idea for the movie was a normal father and son on normal Earth. The father was injured while they were on a camping trip, so the son had to travel through the woods to get help while communicating with him via walkie-talkie. After the failure of the final product, a fair number of people have commented that they would have preferred this version.
    • Both Midnight Screenings and Cinematic Excrement have pointed out that even though it's only been a thousand years, Jaden Smith never comes upon any ruins of modern Earth. He never finds anything that gives any indication that the planet is Earth. Other than the title and a line by Will Smith, the planet could be any fictional planet.
    • Bob Chipman thought the prologue was silly but had by far the most potential of anything in the movie, such that it should have been the movie.
    • Given how infamous Shyamalan is for putting twists in his films, some people were expecting one in this film, with a popular idea being that Cypher was Dead All Along and Kitai was just hallucinating him to motivate himself. If this would have made the film more powerful or not is up to personal opinion, but it might not have been this dull.
    • With Will Smith, a usually charismatic guy on screen, visibly holding himself back to portray Cypher as cold and emotionless and Jaden, a newer, younger, less experienced, actor at the time, visibly struggling to act with any true emotion in his delivery (not helped by the made up accent), the fact that the writers or director didn't think to switch the characters' personalities to fit the actors better is weird. It could've made the film more watchable.
  • Vanity Project: Many people consider this to be one for Will Smith. This is certainly not helped by the fact he intended it to be Jaden's Star-Making Role.
  • Visual Effects of Awesome: The Ursa is the most detailed creature in the movie, being rendered to the point of having a highly believable and very disturbing skin texture.
  • Win Back the Crowd: After Earth was widely viewed as Shyamalan's first attempt at this after a string of commercial and/or critical flops that had cost him much of the goodwill he had accumulated with The Sixth Sense, Unbreakable, and Signs. Its aggressive advertising and bringing Will Smith into the fold left many audiences curious, if skeptical. The end result however did not achieve this effect, receiving only slightly better reviews than The Last Airbender and leading to widespread accusations of nepotism on the part of Will Smith pushing his son into the starring role, with both actors seen as not living up to their usual standard and Shyamalan still struggling to rise above the critical fallout generated by Airbender and The Happening.


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