Will After Earth hit or miss?

Posted by David Konow

It looks like the biggest movie of the summer has already hit theaters, even though the summer just started. Iron Man 3 is the box office juggernaut to beat this year, although we still have Star Trek Into Darkness and many other big contenders this season to come.

Where Iron Man 3 proved the box office pundits right, there’s several movies this summer that are far more risky, including After Earth, The Lone Ranger, and World War Z. World War Z and The Lone Ranger have both had troubled buzz for a long time, and After Earth has the potential liability of M Night Shyamalan. You’d be hard pressed to find Night’s name in the coming attractions for the movie, and it’s clear the studio is heavily downplaying the fact that he directed it because in recent years he’s become a joke. 

 
So will audiences judge After Earth on its own merits when they see it? Well, that still remains to be seen. A big plus is other writers worked on the screenplay, which should cut down on the usual Shyamlan-isms, like the wobbly twists at the end, the tin-ear dialog, etc. In addition, After Earth doesn’t take place in Philadelphia, in fact, it’s much different than any of Night’s previous films, and this is a definite plus.
 
After Earth as an interesting concept, but like a lot of Shyamalan stories, it runs the risk of running out of steam early because it’s hard to stretch a Twilight Zone style concept out to feature length. But as Gary Whitta, who wrote After Earth, told SciFiNow and Giant Freakin Robot, “The movie has to work on a human emotional level first, you cannot rely on the trappings of the science fiction premise or the concept gimmick; it has to stand on its own.”
 
Whitta added that it was Will Smith’s decision to put the movie a thousand years in the future, “so the budget went up a little bit, but it remained a story about a father and a son.” 
 
So Shyamalan has a lot riding on After Earth, but World War Z and The Lone Ranger have even more to lose. World War Z still can’t shake the disastrous buzz it’s been fighting for God knows how long, and Deadline reported that a Wall Street analyst put Lone Ranger, World War Z, and After Earth as the “most notable candidates [of] several high profile failures” this summer. 
 
The Lone Ranger is “a strong contender for an early write-down,” and this report also gives the impression World War Z could get steamrolled by Man of Steel. We won’t know for certain until the official reviews are in, and After Earth will finally be out in the world on May 31.