The critics have really crushed After Earth, calling it a vanity project and stealth propaganda for Scientology. (“Is After Earth the worst film of all time?” read one breathless headline.) (Spoiler alert: no).
I mean, is it a vanity project? I suppose. It was based on a story idea by Will Smith, who co-stars in the film alongside his 14-year-old son Jaden. But so what? Vanity in Hollywood? I am shocked, shocked, shocked!
Is it shilling for Scientology? Beats me. If it is, the message didn’t get through. I can safely say I have no desire to go to the bookstore and pick up a copy of Dianetics. (Although I just downloaded a bunch of Tom Cruise films—strictly a coincidence, I’m sure.)
What it is, really, is a children’s film—well, a tween and teenage boy’s film to be exact—about a young man who proves himself in front of his powerful and withholding father in a rather spectacular way.
It’s the future and the Earth is uninhabitable. Humans were largely wiped out by these sea monstery killer alien things who are blind, but smell fear. Will Smith plays General Cypher Raige (also the name of my new alt-country punk band, by the way), the only man who can “ghost” in...