Thousands of years in the future, man no longer lives on earth. They live on foreign planets. Full of terrible creatures and inhospitable conditions. The reason for this? Pollution of course. Destruction of the natural resources resulted in a planet barren and uninhabitable. However, Earth is a fighting planet, and through the course of thousands of years, it has regrown and rebirthed. Earth remembers what killed it for centuries- Man. So now, everything has regrown and evolved to do one thing.
So the humans live on other worlds, relying on the Rangers to protect them against fearsome beasts. The greatest of these beasts is the Ursa. A creature who cannot see, but hunts through sensing fear in its prey. They are deadly, as one look at them and instant your heart would jump into your mouth. Kitai’s father, has been the only one to “Ghost” or to be completely without fear in the face of certain death, and has killed many- protecting the remaining mankind. Kitai desires, and longs to be a Ranger like his father, but events of the past and decisions of the present have kept him from realizing this goal.
When his father invites him on a spaceship ride to accompany him on a mission, he accepts. But something goes terribly wrong, a space storm hits their ship, and they must crash land, then survive, on one planet.
That Planet, is earth.
Things I Liked
Cypher, Katai’s father, is man respected in the world, but not by his son. When he comes back from a trip, we see the divide between him and his family. His wife offers some excellent advice, when he voices his displeasure at being so distant from his son. “Katai doesn’t need a commanding officer, he needs a father.“. The next day, we see Cypher put that advice into action. He not only intentionally pursues and builds a better relationship with his son throughout this film, but also listens to and supports his wife in a sensitive way. Cypher is humanity’s best and most reliable solider, but he also has a heart who loves his family. That’s a real man.
Katai deals with many emotional wounds of the past, mainly the fact his sister was brutally mauled and killed by an Ursa when his father was away. He witnessed it at a very young age, but lived because she kept him sealed in a special case of glass. He feels guilt, anger, and confusion because of this event. He lashes out at his father, but Cypher always is there to firmly challenge him on what he thought. Never does Cypher tell him whether he was right or wrong. He treats his son like a man, and makes him figure it out for himself. To get past his fear, and to live decisively.
In the end this results in an incredibly display of father and son love and commitment to the other. It is the largest theme of this movie, and is portrayed in an excellent manner.
A solider, who just lost a leg, stands himself up to salute Cypher to show respect.
Things I Didn’t Like
There are a lot of graphic images of humans being killed, or have been killed by the Ursa. This includes men being impaled through the chest, mauled and thrown, and crushed. After the ship crashes, we are shown many dead bodies strewn throughout the wreckage. Later we see the other survivors, who left the ship, dead- impaled on trees. We see a pile of dead monkey bodies, limbs, and other appendages strewn across a clearing after a predator has done its work.
Cypher sustains some serious wounds in the crash, and he has to do some bloody work on himself to survive. This was more gruesome than the actual battles shown with the Ursa, as the blood flows freely on screen.
Kitai also has to face many dangerous things on earth. He is bitten by a leech and has to inject himself with serum to survive. He fights with a straight Sythe, which he uses to cut animals who would attack him. W In a dream he sees his sister with a bloody and beaten up face, who then warns Katai to wake up. The image is short, but creepy nonetheless.
Fear is not real. The only place that fear can exist is in our thoughts of the future. It is a product of our imagination, causing us to fear things that do not at present and may not ever exist. That is near insanity Kitai. Do not misunderstand me, danger is very real, but fear is a choice. We are all telling ourselves a story and that day mine changed. ~Cypher~
While advertised to be a survival action flick, After Earth delivers a surprisingly rich and message driven plot. One often lost in Science fiction movies. The movie shows a type of “Rite of Passage” for Kitai. He must deal with and face his past guilt. His indecision, his anger toward his father, and his pride in his abilities. Through the journey of recovering a rescue beacon, he learns being a Ranger is more than just following orders and Having skills. It is a matter of Character.
What is most sweet about this learning process, is his dad guides him through the entire process. Even though Kitai is at odds with him, and Cypher shows barely any love for his son, in the end, they work as a team which each learns from the other. They sacrifice for the other and work towards the common goal- working out disagreements and distrust. It was great to see a semi-accurate development of a father son bond, with respect going both ways by the completion of the journey.
This movie is also devoid of innapropriate sexual content, foul language, and over the top ridiculous special effects. It tells a uplifting story of boy and father versus the wild. I will say, the battles of boy vs beasty are quite intense, and there are some graphic images of dead animals, and people killed by the Ursa. This is what earned the film the PG-13 rating, and you should be aware of that if you check this one out.
To put it simply, After earth is everything it should be, and hardly anything it shouldn’t. Strong positive messages about the importance of family over careers, concepts of fear- how misplaced it is, and the growth of a boy into a man is something not only to applaud, but also to support and reflect upon.