Will Smith’s Bewilderingly Bad Sci-Fi Film Just Landed On Netflix

After Earth, possibly Will Smith's worst movie ever, is currently available to stream on Netflix.

By Zack Zagranis | Updated

Will Smith

If you thought that Oscar slap was the dumbest thing Will Smith ever did, you probably didn’t see After Earth. Should you care to rectify that, What’s on Netflix reports that After Earth is now available to watch on the streamer. Just remember, you can not get those 100 minutes of your life back, no matter how much you beg Netflix. Don’t say we didn’t warn you.

After Earth is the brainchild of Will Smith–who has a story credit on the film–, and co-writers M. Night Shyamalan and Gary Whitta. The movie stars Smith and his real-life son Jaden as a father-and-son duo, Cypher, and Kitai Raige. The two crash on a post-apocalyptic Earth, and it’s up to Kitai to leave his wounded father, Cypher, and brave the harsh terrain and highly evolved predators alone to get help.

As if that’s not bad enough, the pair also have to deal with a race of aliens called the S’krell who can sense fear and can only be defeated by fear-suppressing technique called “ghosting.” Not since Battlefield Earth has a movie stars sci-fi vanity project gone so wrong.

Will Smith came up with the story for After Earth after watching a reality show about people surviving disasters in the wild. The Fresh Prince actor envisioned a movie about a father and son crashing their car on a mountain and the son having to go out and find help for his injured father. The movie wasn’t originally supposed to be science fiction, but Smith decided out of the blue that setting the film 1,000 years in the future would make it cooler.

Will Smith had his production company contact The Book of Eli scribe Gary Whitta, and the two worked on After Earth‘s story. Will Smith asked M. Night Shyamalan directly if he would helm the picture, and in 2011 production of After Earth began.

The movie was the first from Sony to be shot digitally in 4K. The movie’s cinematographer explained the choice to film digitally as a result of theaters using digital projectors for all their movies, thus negating any advantage gained from shooting on film. An opinion not shared by directors like Christopher Nolan, who still chooses to shoot on film despite all of the editing and projection being done digitally.

Despite having a huge star like Will Smith attached, After Earth was a critical and commercial failure. The movie currently holds an abysmal 12 percent critics score on Rotten Tomatoes, and the audience score isn’t much better at 36 percent. Why did After Earth come out so bad?

after earth will smith

With today’s current conversation around nepo babies, it’s tempting to throw Jayden Smith under the bus, but the truth is he’s not that bad an actor. Will Smith’s previous collaboration with his son, 2006’s The Pursuit of Happyness, was a huge success, with audiences and critics alike proving that the two have genuine chemistry together on screen. Likewise, 2010’s The Karate Kid –a remake of the Ralph Macchio classic–starred Jayden without his father and was also successful, establishing the younger Smith as a talent in his own right.

No, After Earth‘s faults lie squarely on the shoulders of Will Smith and director M. Night Shyamalan. Shyamalan started his film career out strong with The 6th Sense and Unbreakable, leading to all of Hollywood singing his praises as the next great director. When Signs came out and featured yet another “twist ending,” Shyamalan was starting to look a little like a one-trick pony. By the time The Village was released, Hollywood was starting to wonder if maybe they had labeled Shyamalan a genius a little prematurely.

Shyamalan has certainly made good movies since then, but he’s also made a lot of clunkers, like the killer plant movie The Happening. After Earth followed The Last Airbender–widely considered M. Night’s worst movie ever–during what was the director’s lowest period so far in his career.

Will Smith deserves a lot of credit for After Earth‘s failure as well. The actor allegedly imbued the film with a lot of Scientology references and philosophies that turned off a lot of critics and viewers. On top of that, Will Smith just isn’t a screenwriter. Names like Cypher Raige and the S’krell are so silly they wouldn’t even pass muster in the Star Wars universe–a universe, we might add, where Obi-Wan Kenobi’s home planet is named Stewjohn after former Daily Show host John Stewart.

If your names are sillier than Jar Jar Binks or Padme Amidala, you’re doing something wrong.

Sadly Will Smith believed so much in his idea that a whole slew of tie-in media was planned for After Earth. Not only were there going to be multiple sequels, but Smith also envisioned an animated series, webisodes, mobisodes, a video game, theme-park attractions, comics, and even a perfume line. Needless to say, none of that came to fruition.

So should you watch After Earth now that it’s on Netflix? Absolutely! How could you not be curious about a movie that’s so bad it was nominated for six Razzies?

Just don’t come crying to us if the movie steals a part of your soul and leaves you feeling empty and jaded. We warned you.