"But Dad, I don't want to be a movie star!" "Why can you be more like your sister?"

“But Dad, I don’t want to be a movie star!”
“Why can’t you be more like your sister?”

Even though director M. Night Shyamalan’s reputation is just a little better than Uwe Boll these days, the mediocrity of After Earth is not really his fault. Conceived as a starring vehicle for talent bereft Jaden Smith by his dad Will, the sci-fi flick is neither original nor effective.

A thousand years after Earth was deemed inevitable, a military spaceship crash-lands in the planet. The only survivors are the humorless general Cypher Raige (Will) and his courage-impaired son, Kitai (Jaden). Cypher’s is immobilized, so it’s up to Kitai to retrieve a signal whatchamacallit lost during the collision.

With mankind gone, Earth has thrived. Kitai must face all kinds of fierce creatures along with cold patches and toxic air. His only support is his dad, who can follow the action by video (hey, it’s the future).

The fairly simple storyline (going to point A to point B) is the only thing saving this film from oblivion. Smith Jr. is singularly inept as an actor. Somehow, he has managed to devolve from the “heights” of Karate Kid. Will is not much better, as his idea of being serious and stern is to lower his voice. He has an opportunity of stretch during a monologue about bravery, but all he manages is to put the audience to sleep.

Shyamalan’s first movie after the creative nadir of The Last Airbender, is a bit of a rebound (at least After Earth is not as unintelligible), but the days of The Sixth Sense and Unbreakable seem long gone. Seriously, scientologist just should give up trying to make movies: They are terrible at it.

One and a half underachieving prairie dogs.