i watched After Earth today after anticipating it since i first saw the trailer. however… it was very disappointing. it was bad.
now you might ask, why get excited over this movie? because the premise is fascinating, and so very sci fi. mankind has trashed the planet and has had to leave to another planet to get on with life… spaceship crashes on earth 1000 years later, where life on earth has dramatically evolved. okay 1000 years is kind of short. but don’t you see! here you can explore what happens to earth. how people adapt to a new and hostile environment. familiarity yet unfamiliarity. new alien/home environments. you can explore so many themes! so much space for imagination (and following explanations!). for example…
how mankind trashed the planet, and the resultant effects on the biosphere, geography, continents, etc. and in turn how this affects how the native flora and fauna evolved. okay spoiler alert here. why does earth freeze over every night? that’s fine, its pretty interesting. but you have to explain this phenomenon. after that, explain or show how every life form on earth has adapted or deals with a nightly temperature drop that kills supercarnivores.
why has everything become bigger and more aggressive? genetic engineering byproducts? where have the megaherbivores gone? if the carnivores are so huge and mobile and fast, where are the prey animals, and how have they evolved alongside? why does the flora not evolve alongside the fauna? the plants are so… weak. and the composition of the air has changed… doesn’t that affect things? and when the dude dropped into the river, AREN’T THERE MONSTER FISH? you gotta explain all this man. and where did the detritus of civilization go to? plastic and metal doesn’t disappear after 1000 years. there should be skeletons of cities in the landscape.
okay. now… the human civilization on nova prime. why is the architecture like that? why are teh spaceships designed like fish, and even down to the interior, with scale-like surfaces and inner superstructures reminiscent of exoskeletons? what motivated this? what’s the power source? how has mankind adapted to life on a desert-ish planet? that’s the beauty of sci-fi… you get to do all this things! you can throw up a concept and build a whole universe around it. like maybe nova prime has a low concentration of metals in the soil… that’s gonna affect what kind of materials are available to you. maybe there’s some native species which is some friendly giant herbivorous dragon, whose bones form the prime building material for spaceships.
the best part is… WHO ARE THE FREAKING ALIENS? some random aliens just decided to attack humanity and they do so by dropping ‘ursas’, which are i assume your generic freaky hunter-killer monster endowed with super strength, super speed, many legs, a breath weapon, lots of shiny sharp fangs, and an ugly mug. okay pretty cool, it hunts by sensing fear. but with a name like ursa you expect something more… ursine, not a 6 legged freak which resembles a giant termite on steroids. meh. and how come the aliens are attacking unprovoked? confirm got reason. and don’t tell me ursas are the only killer lifeform they use… if they are advanced enough to be attacking another spacefaring civilization i’m sure they have the political organisation and military means to bring massive deadly force to bear when necessary. the alien spaceship looks pretty badass. if a metal gunship can airdrop bioengineered attack dogs, i’m sure they have the capability to unload barrages of smart missiles. a missile is a lot simpler than a bioengineered creature. unless of course bioengineering is the norm for the alien race… in which case, why are their spacecraft so mechanical? you have ALIENS, you have to explain them man!!!!
see? the problem with the entire sci fi backdrop is that it is POINTLESS. there is simply no exploration at all. a wonderful premise which promises so much, and nothing happens. bah. it is a travesty to call this sci fi. i mean, just look at Dune. Dune should set the standard for what sci fi should be… a well fleshed out world based on basic concepts, like economics and greed and dependency.
technology needs to be explored more. the weapon in the movie is pretty cool… a dual-bladed kind of tube which has up to 22 different ways in which the organic metal blades (what it looks like) can be configured. i assume it is for using the right weapon for the right situation. it is a pretty cool weapon. but dont you think humanity would stick to your normal projectile weapons? or energy projection? i mean, there’s a reason why the rifle was invented… because melee combat simply doesn’t suit a human being very well. and okay if you have technology that allows you to reshape metal at the touch of a button, don’t you think that would work very nicely for flight suits and variable-geometry wings for heavier-than-air flight? you would think your spaceships would be rather cool with that tech.
gravity. gravity on nova prime is less than that on earth… which is why the dude says gravity on earth is more. DOESNT THAT MEAN HE BECOMES WEAKER? more fragile? can’t run as fast? his muscles aren’t used to the gees that earth has? which means he can’t perform at peak physical performance? but no… that doesn’t happen. man. gravity is so essential i can’t believe they left it out.
okay secondly the movie sucks because it is absolutely uninspired.
the camera work SUCKS big time. the shots are repeated over and over… the same kind of shots. close ups and medium shots. very static shots. people just talk into the camera. no action. bah. lousy.
the lighting is always the same.
the pace… there is no pace. everything proceeds at real time. everything available nowadays with technology and the emotional pace of the film goes at roughly zero meters per hour.
dialogue is bad. will smith couldn’t save the show.
emotional engagement with audience is bad… a simple father/son dynamic was poorly managed, with flashbacks going back to the same scene over and over and over again. poor.
lousy representation of a pan-civilization Ranger Corps, and how come the Prime Commander can go gallivanting around the galaxy. and also why simple pilots would question the judgment of a dude with his apparent reputation. man. no discipline.
the bad guy is not threatening at all. why only one bad guy?
this movie leaves too many questions unanswered, even with the caveat that some things can’t be explained. halfway through i stopped watching it for entertainment (it was not entertaining) and simply started watching it as a film and analyzing it throughout. a cursory examination, with filing away for later use (now).
clearly much more could have been done for such a promising premise. looks like Star Trek is the best movie this year… until Man of Steel comes out, maybe. we’ll see next week.