'Traffic' Oscar-Winner Stephen Gaghan Polishes M. Night Shyamalan's Will Smith Vehicle 'One Thousand A.E.'

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by Oliver Lyttelton
November 11, 2011 9:41 AM
4 Comments
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Of the many, many problems of the recent output of M. Night Shyamalan, perhaps first among them is that he's simply not as good a writer as he is a director. He handles the early parts of "Signs" with a disciplined tautness worthy of Spielberg, but throws it away on a teeth-grittingly nonsensical "God has a plan" ending. He writes himself into "Lady in the Water" as a soon-to-be-martyred author whose work will eventually lead to world peace. He printed out "The Happening" and sent it to his agent, rather than putting it in a box, setting fire to the box, taking the ashes and putting them in a lead-sealed concrete vault a mile underground, as he should have done.

But after three critically-savaged films in a row, he finally seems to be getting the message. His next film, the apocalyptic sci-fi film "One Thousand A.E.," is based on a script by "The Book of Eli" writer Gary Whitta, and while Shyamalan took a swing at a draft, he's brought in a more well-regarded screenwriter to give his work a final polish.

Variety report that Stephen Gaghan, who won an Oscar a decade ago for his script for Steven Soderbergh's "Traffic," was hired for, and has now completed, a rewrite of "One Thousand A.E," and may continue to work on the project as it heads towards production. Gaghan's been mostly quiet since his strong directorial debut "Syriana" in 2005, working on a string of projects that never got green-lit, but there's been a surge of activity recently, with two potential follow-ups to that film circling -- "The Snakehead," about an Asian grandmother in New York who becomes involved in human trafficking, and an untitled thriller about a wiretap operation against a drugs cartel.

As for "One Thousand A.E," it stars Will Smith and his son, "The Karate Kid" star Jaden Smith, as a father and son who land on Earth a milllenium after it's been abandoned by humanity, and forced to battle against the elements when the father is injured. Gaghan's presence is the first optimistic sign on the project; hopefully he'll be able to curb some of Shyamalan's worst instincts and return him to his best form. Filming starts in February, so we'll see how it turns out when Sony release "One Thousand A.E." on June 7, 2013.

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4 Comments

  • Mike | November 11, 2011 5:48 PMReply

    "..."Signs" with a disciplined tautness worthy of Spielberg, but throws it away on a teeth-grittingly nonsensical "God has a plan" ending", the whole movie is about regaining faith & redemption, it's packaged as a disaster movie & sold that way with a lotta help form Disney, but it's a drama w/ supernatural elements just like all his good early movies.

    But I do agree, it is high time he directed someone else's writing, he forgot how to handle dialog & as a result there's nothing he can do behind the camera to prevent the proceedings to come off as stilted. Which is sad, probably his greatest strength was working with actors, especially kids. And his last few movies have certainly shown that he's lost that ability.

  • Glass | November 11, 2011 4:30 PMReply

    More reinforcement that we WILL live in a future where we have to accept Jaden Smith as a movie star. Like, he's going to be in a lot of shit, and there's nothing anyone can do about it.

  • gonad | November 11, 2011 11:04 AMReply

    Smith turned down Django for this? Hmm, shades of Wild Wild West/The Matrix.

  • Carmen Havar | November 11, 2011 11:00 AMReply

    I wish that Will Smith would do more movies. We see too little of him now.

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