It’s not giving away too much to say that the spacecraft crash-lands on earth, which has become a hostile environment for humans. The elder Smith is badly injured, so it’s up to young Jaden to prove himself by traveling 100 kilometers on foot and salvage a rescue beacon. Jaden is no sissy, but he’s haunted by a traumatic childhood experience with a deadly monster and isn’t eager to encounter another, in any form.
Jaden carries himself well in this futuristic adventure, which was filmed in a variety of lush locations around the globe. His father is appropriately stoic, and has to deliver some straight-faced dialogue that elicited sputters of laughter at the screening I attended. Younger audiences might have an easier time taking it at face value and investing in the story of a boy who’s trying to earn his father’s respect.
As to the screenplay, its awkwardness is heightened by some typically heavy-handed philosophizing from director M. Night Shyamalan (and co-screenwriter Gary Whitta).
As a juvenile adventure yarn, After Earth is adequate but hardly inspired. It may satisfy undemanding moviegoers but it won’t add luster to anyone’s career.