Archive | November, 2014

Just one question for Will Smith’s ‘After Earth’

4 Nov

This movie is real. Watching it is a choice.

Writing is hard, you guys. I dabble in it, but anyone who perseveres to the point of producing something for public consumption should be cut some slack. You have a cool idea, you try to flesh it out to a 90-minute running time, you add a few cliches and formulae–OK and a few more–blunder through a couple of tricky areas, and then release it to the adoring public hoping they’ll be nice.

Will Smith gave this a go and I say good for him. After Earth was almost nice. It gave his boy something to do over the Summer. Great. I just wonder how the army of people who must have read the script managed to yes-man it all the way into theatres without pointing out some pretty fundamental weaknesses. I offer this one:

1. Why are your monsters so impossibly dumb?

MOMMM?? Where are my socks?

In the story, Earth has been Republicanned to the point of toxicity, and people have upped sticks to another planet. Unfortunately some unwelcoming enemies have airdropped horrid beasties called the Ursa into this world in order to exterminate all human life. They are blind, but hunt by smelling fear pheromones. Will Smith has learned that fear is a choice and so he doesn’t smell scared. He can walk up to these giant naked mole-rats undetected and kill them with his high-tech scimitar.

So the army has invested much money and risk trying to teach soldiers to have no fear so that they can kill the Ursa.

This seems incredibly dumb to me. Firstly, just shoot the things. They can be killed by stabs, so they can be killed by guns, tanks, drones, air-to-ground weapons, traps baited with cowardly Rhesus Monkeys… anything.

But even if you have to walk up to them and cut them, I present to you the invincible Ursa warrior:


Suppress the emission of pheromones and Bam! you’re invisible, Will. Avoid stinking up the place with your fear and you’re golden–a fact clearly acknowledged in the film when little Jaden’s sister sticks him in a glass bubble to hide him from a death mole (advice she herself might have followed). You don’t have to control involuntary bodily processes, you can just do what humans are good at and use your brain. Sigh.