Last night, I watched Will Smith's new sci-fi extravaganza After Earth. I wish I could say I enjoyed it, but if I said that, I'd be lying through my teeth; this is by no means the worst movie I've ever seen, and even calling it a bad movie might be unjust. But it doesn't work, not as a whole, and not even in terms of its individual component.
The culprit? Director and co-writer M. Night Shyamalan.
At one point in time, I was a massive Shyamalan fan. And lest you think I broke with my fandom at the same time the rest of the world did, here's my bona fides: not only do I think The Village is his best movie, I think it's close to being a masterpiece. I also love The Sixth Sense, Unbreakable, and Signs, so that's four consecutive movies from the man that I'm very, very fond of.
Since then, it's been nothing but dreck: Lady in the Water has its moments, but is filled with terrible acting and weirdly self-aware subplots; The Happening also has good moments, but in other scenes is bad on an Ed Wood level of ineptitude; and The Last Airbender is a complete misfire on ever level.
|Why make a poster where your stars look this grumpy?!?|
The good news is that After Earth is an improvement on all of those films. The bad news is that it still isn't very good, and most of the blame for that must be laid directly at the feet of Shyamalan.