Futuristic Army Brat Aces Survival Test

This was a slow starting movie and while it was aesthetically amazing, it took a full half hour to get going in earnest. It was visually stunning throughout, with an incredible view of, what looked like The Grand Canyon with buildings stuck to the side of it, and of course the creatures were out of this world. Well, technically they were very much in this world, but in the future. There was certainly no “wee sleeked, timorous cowering beasties” to be found here, for they were all huge and very dangerous to humans, as apparently Earth had become too inhospitable due to pollution so was abandoned and put under strict quarantine. Father and son team Will and Jaden Smith did not seem as comfortable with each other as one would have expected but I really have no idea if working with a sibling as an actor makes a difference, but I honestly would have thought it would have helped.

General Cypher Raige (is that not a seriously cool name?) has been a soldier all his days and has never been there for his family when it really counted, thanks to his duties. But his son Kitai (not so cool) has been struggling to follow in his footsteps and gain respect, and to catch his attention the only way he knows how. Katai has just failed his Ranger test and tells a disappointed Cypher who barks orders at him like a recruit instead of a son. Cypher’s wife Raia (Sophie Okonedo) tells him to soften up to the boy as he’s trying his best to be like him, and we see him try his best, but he has ample chance after the ship crash lands on Earth. With the ship scattered over a hundred kilometers, Father and son are the soul survivors (surprise, surprise), and with a huge mega dangerous beast on the loose, that has haunted Kitai’s dreams, he must use all his survival skills to travel through the crazy, jungle like environment. Kitai must find the tail end of the ship where there is a beacon which must be set off, to save them both from certain death.

The gadgetry was amazing, with all manner of communication devices, and even the clothing worn was something else. After Earth contained, arguably the most advanced graphics I’ve seen to date but Pacific Rim and Man of Steel have yet to come out, and of course, the sequel to this, which director M Night Shyamalan has already agreed to do, so I expect great things from all of them, after watching this.

The ending was quite exciting, as we see Kitai battling his inner demons, quite literally, but my favourite part was definitely the chase through the sky, which involved a gigantic eagle with a massive wingspan and claws the size of an arm, belting along trying to catch and feed him to the little uns. There weren’t as many creatures as in Avatar but it’s not a big deal. I thought the setup perfect, as was the entire movie, except for the slow beginning. I recently caught Star Trek: Into Darkness in 3D, and was unfairly looking for as an exciting beginning as that, but on reflection, it wasn’t that sort of film. Now, I liked this movie but it’s clear not many do, but instead of beating on director M Night, try blaming the person who wrote it instead. I loved the quote by Joe Neumaier of the New York Daily News, “Summer 2013 has its first bomb, and sadly, it’s landed right on Will Smith.” It has indeed but I could watch sci-fi flicks like this all day.


Grade: C+

by Ed Blackadder