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After Earth – A Dad’s Perspective

Despite the negative reviews, Nathaniel and I saw the newly released movie After Earth.  After Earth is a science fiction feature starring Will Smith and his son Jaden of Karate Kid remake fame.  M. Night Shyamalan directed the film based on Will Smith’s original idea.  Shyamalan previous films include The Sixth Sense, Unbreakable, Signs, The Village, The Happening and Devil. 

After Earth – The Story (Spoiler Alert)


After Earth


Sometime in the near future the Earth becomes no longer inhabitable. The human race is forced to relocate to another planet, Nova Prime. The Earth returns to a prehistoric state with the animals instinctively hostile to humans. 

The Ranger Corps, commanded by General Cypher Raige (Will Smith) directs the relocation to Nova Prime. During the relocation the Ranger Corps comes into conflict with the S’krell, alien creatures also wanting Nova Prime. The S’krell use monsters called Ursas against the humans.  Ursas hunt humans using their “fear” as a scent. 

By coming to terms with his fear, Cypher learns how to become invisible to the Ursas and leads the Ranger Corps to victory.  While Cypher is off fighting the S’krell, Cypher’s daughter, Senshi (Zoe Kravitz) is killed by an Ursa after safely protecting her brother, Kitai.  Kitai feels responsible for his sister’s death and is motivated to become a Ranger like his father, Cypher.

Kitai trains hard to become a Ranger, but his application for the Ranger Corps is rejected because of his brashness.  Cypher returns from battle with the S’krell to learn Kitai feels he’s viewed as a disappointment.  Kitai’s mother, Faia (Sophie Okonedo) encourages Cypher to take Kitai on his last mission before he retires.

While enroute on their mission they are caught in a severe asteroid storm and end up crash landing on Earth.  Cypher and Kitai are the sole survivors of the crash. Cypher broke both of his legs in the crash.  The primary emergency beacon was damaged in the crash and the back-up beacon is in the tail section of the space ship which separated from the main ship during the crash.  The story focus on Kitai’s trek to recover the back-up emergency beacon.

After Earth – The Themes

Environmental.  This is a familiar theme in many futuristic films and a major theme in Shyamalan’s film The Happening.  Global warming, pollution and ravaging resources has made the Earth uninhabitable to humans.   Mother Nature rejects humans by animals becoming instinctively hostile to humans and the climate becoming inhospitable to humans with temperatures dropping well below zero at night. This despite everything appearing lush and green during daylight.

Fear. Surviving a crash landing on a hostile planet.  Your father’s and your survival is dependent on your ability to negotiate a treacherous journey limited by your supply of oxygen would raise anyone’s fear.  Kitai is no different. Cypher tells Kitai

Fear is not real. It is a product of thoughts you create. Do not misunderstand me. Danger is very real. But Fear is a choice.”

Great quote! Danger is real but fear is a choice.  Kitai acknowledges his fear and then learns to master it while on his trek.

Journey to Manhood.  While the first two themes could be considered recycling of old sci-fi and action-adventure movies.  I was struck by this more subtler theme and it’s for this reason alone I recommend seeing this movie.  It hit me as Cypher was coaching and counseling Kitai before and during his dangerous journey. 

As parents we spend the first 18+ years of our children’s lives preparing them to go on journey we cannot accompany them on.  In most cases, we remain in touch with our children to be available to them if they need our advice and counsel along the way.  At some point with our passing we are no longer available to our children. It is then we pray they’ve internalized what we’ve taught them and are able to apply what they’ve learned when the moment requires it. 

I found the movie entertaining and it held my interest.  Nathaniel liked it also.  After Earth is an excellent movie as a father and son date.  I say fohgetabout what the critics have to say and go see After Earth.



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