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Will Smith Isn’t Too Broken Up About After Earth’s Box Office

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Two weeks ago, After Earth received a lukewarm response audiences and critics alike. The film opened at #3 with a disappointing $27 million for a typical three-day weekend. This was the weakest opening for a Will Smith movie since his starring role in Enemy of the State in 1998. But don’t worry about Will, he’s taking it well.

While on Jimmy Kimmel Live (skip to 2:38 to watch the After Earth talk), Will Smith talked briefly about the disappointments of After Earth. It’s probably a humbling experience for Smith, and I’m sure he’ll climb back on top of the box office again at some point. Although After Earth’s box office numbers weren’t official until the Sunday after it was released, Will Smith knew the film would underperform. Smith said:

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Does It Matter If After Earth Is Or Isn’t A Scientology Film?

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This past weekend drove yet another theoretical nail into the coffin of M. Night Shyamalan’s career, as his sci-fi adventure After Earth drew the ire of critics everywhere and took in only $27 million, which is the lowest opening for a Will Smith summer blockbuster in 20 years. There’s no doubt Shyamalan will keep on making movies, but I have serious doubts that his budgets are going to remain above $100 million. Unless of course the Scientologists are paying for it.

The Hollywood Reporter is responsible for one of the strangest film reviews I’ve seen in a while, allowing former Scientologist Mark Headley to give his take on After Earth. And guess what, you guys? He found a lot of Scientology in it! Holy shit! Now, I’ve read some of Headley’s stuff in the past, and he’s a highly intelligent guy who got roped into a strange group of believers, and he’s admirably spent his post-Scientology life trying to inform others of its bullshittiness. That said, why is this guy writing a movie review for a major publication that shouldn’t have any agendas behind anything it puts out to the public? Moreover, does what he says even matter?

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Buzz Aldrin’s Expert Opinion On What M. Night Shyamlan’s After Earth Got Wrong

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When Buzz Aldrin puts in his two cents about the realism of how space travel is portrayed in a movie, it’s worth at least 10 cents. And while nobody really needed an explanation of why M. Night Shyamalan’s After Earth wasn’t the most realistic movie out this year, it’s better than hearing a non-astronaut say it. (But seriously, read our review.)

Aldrin got a chance to see the film at its New York premiere and spoke with the Huffington Post at an event where he was a guest of honor. Though he enjoyed the set design and the family dynamic between Will Smith and Jaden, he felt the film was too much of a “shoot-em-up,” joking that he would hope “the aliens are more peaceful than they are in this film, wherever they are.” But his main point of contention is one of the oldest errors in sci-fi: sounds in space.

“There was a lot of noise,” he said of After Earth. “In space, you don’t get that much noise…Noise doesn’t propagate in a vacuum. We talked over headsets. Fortunately, we were free of static. We could communicate with each other pretty clearly, and mission control, though we were 50,000 miles away.” Should we just chalk another checkmark next to Joss Whedon’s name for offering complete silence in space on Firefly? I think we shall. Maybe if they’d have kept to the film’s original pitch, this wouldn’t have been an issue and we wouldn’t have spent so much time talking about a damned Shyamalan movie.

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After Earth Wasn’t Originally A Science Fiction Movie

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Jaden Smith ghostingThe latest Will & Jaden Smith film After Earth is receiving middling to low reviews from film critics across the country. While the film suffers from Jaden Smith’s terrible acting, the sci-fi future world M. Night Shyamalan created is the film’s greatest asset. But it turns out After Earth was not originally conceived as a science fiction film.

In an interview with Blastr, screenwriter Gary Whitta (The Book of Eli) talked about his first meetings with Will Smith, who has a story credit on After Earth. Will Smith wanted the film to be a survival story between a father and son, but then the story was expanded with science fiction in mind. Whitta explained:

Will always wanted to tell a kind of father and son bonding story. In fact, it wasn’t a science fiction movie originally to begin with. It was set modern day, and Will and Jaden were military father and son who were on a trip to Alaska. Just swap out ‘stranded on an abandoned planet with aggressive monkey creatures‘ with ‘stranded in the wilderness without cell-phone coverage and a hungry pack of wolves.’

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Movie Review: If After Earth Is What You Left, Don’t Bother Going Back

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After EarthYou have to hand it to M. Night Shyamalan. For a filmmaker most known for forcing unearned, out-of-left field—some may say asinine—twists into every movie at inopportune moments, he certainly resisted that urge with his new sci-fi adventure After Earth. It couldn’t have been easy for him, and there are times in the film when you, and the entire audience, wait for that holy-shit-it-was-all-a-dream moment, a moment that thankfully never materializes. There are a few groaners, but the closest thing to a twist is nothing more than a poor decision in the writing process that bestows way too much empathetic power on a giant bird.

There is, however, a back side to this particular coin. Unfortunately, the lack of unnecessary complications is the only thing After Earth has going for it. I was rooting for the guy, too, but this is a pretty bad movie. The entire film is predictable, dull, and boring as all hell. It’s the opposite of what you expect, as if Shyamalan, who co-wrote the script with Gary Whitta, took great pains not to stray from the most obvious path, to not to try anything different.

2013 is a year where science fiction renders the surface of our planet uninhabitable, or, at the very least, damn near. Between Elysium, Snowpiercer, Oblivion, Fringe, and probably more to come, our little blue planet is in for a rough go. In the case of After Earth, when we ruin the planet for implied reasons of massive environmental degradation and war, we abandon ship for the vague haven of a planet called Nova Prime. This evacuation was 1000 years ago.

Aside from being tedious, the biggest problem with After Earth is that it does zero world building. Shyamalan shows you a few futuristic structures, the characters wear full body space suits, and Jaden Smith’s voice over feeds you a couple nuggets of informaiton, and you’re expected to accept everything else as this hazy, unclear blob, this floating undefined mass of a future. Even in straight up fiction you have to set the stage better than that, and creating a believable universe is doubly important in the speculative realm. This omission is too bad, too, because this is a huge missed opportunity, and there are some potentially cool things going on. For example, the ships.

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Can After Earth Grant M. Night Shyamalan A Comeback? Find Out This Week In Science Fiction

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AEAfter Earth
(In theaters Friday)

After Earth is a strange beast. It’s following on the heels of fellow post-apocalyptic sci-fi flick Oblivion, but the trailers haven’t been nearly as enticing as that movie’s. It stars Will Smith, a certified big-time Movie Star, but also his son Jaden, and if much of the movie hangs on Jaden’s shoulders, this could easily go either way. The premise of two people stranded on a far-future, extremely hostile post-human Earth has potential, but there are weird little notes in what we’ve seen so far that just make the whole thing seem…kind of off. The character names are alarmingly junior high — “Cypher Raige,” really? — and Will’s cadence of speaking the dialogue seems oddly stilted or affected in the trailers. Still, none of those issues are the biggest question mark when it comes to After Earth.

That question mark: M. Night Shyamalan. Once described as this generation’s Alfred Hitchcock after The Sixth Sense hit theaters, Shyamalan has spiraled downwards through movies so bad I’ve sometimes wondered if this whole thing is some elaborate bit of performance art. And yet each time he releases another film, a part of me is hoping he’ll finally sort himself out and once again live up to the promise he once showed. I have no idea if After Earth will be the movie that finally grants him a comeback — the trailers aren’t encouraging — but I genuinely do hope After Earth proves me wrong. Most of the movie’s marketing has kept Shyamalan’s name hidden at best…the guy could really use a win.