My god what a film. Let me open with that. After Earth is the new Will Smith vehicle, and really, does this man every do a bad film? If he does, I certainly haven't seen it.
Back to the film. This is a sci-fi action adventure, but its better than most. Starring the fantastic Will Smith, as mentioned, who plays General Cypher Raige, but also with his real life son, Jaden Smith, playing his son Kitai in the film.
Set in the future, and directed by M. Night Shyamalan. The story begins when Kitai is desperately trying to become a ranger, to impress his father who is due to return home. His father the General was the master of the technique of "ghosting" or in simple terms, being unable to be smelt out by his fear by the enemy. The enemy in this film being Ursas, big nasty creatures, who cannot see but can hunt down its prey by scent, scent of their fear. The General learned to use his ability for calm, to hide from them and be able to kill them whilst remaining undetected.
His son however, fails to make the grade. His father decides to take Kitai with him on his last trip before he retires, but things go wrong and they are forced to crash land. The planet they crash land upon is contaminated. It is also Earth, 1000 years since man was forced to leave it. Kitai and the General survive the crash, but Cypher is badly hurt.
Cypher tells his son that he must retrieve the beacon from the tail of the ship, which broke off. Calculating its location, Cypher tells his son that if he does not succeed in his mission, they will most certainly die. Kitai sets off on his path, with supplies sufficient to make the journey.
Earth however, is now a hostile environment, with electric storms and cold shifts that drop the temperature 5 degrees every 10 minutes when all that can be done to survive is seek out a warm spot. Kitai stays in communication with his dad through a wrist communicator, but does not always follow his father's advice. This results in encounters with a gang of baboons, which he narrowly escapes.
He doesn't tell his dad that he has damaged two of his oxygen discs, and on discovering this, his father orders him to abort the mission. However, it was his father's story of how he learned to ghost during his first encounter with an Ursa that spurs Kitai to continue the mission. His fathers words "danger is real, fear is a choice" give him the courage and he leaps from the overhang above the falls.
Kitai's uit is built for the skydive, but he is grabbed by a giant condor. Huge saber-toothed tigers attack the nest, and though Kitai and the Condor fight valiantly all the chicks are killed. Later, when he almost dies from exposure, Kitai is saved. He realises the mother Condor has saved him with her body heat, but is sad to realise that she has given her life to do so.
Kitai loses touch with his father, as his wrist band has been damaged in the fight. He works out where he needs to go and continues onward. Kitai uses his last oxygen disc, and reaches the tail. He finds more capsules and a weapon, but cannot use the beacon as the electrical interference prevents him. Cypher can hear him, but Kitai cannot hear him. Cypher wills Kitai to see what he must do and finally, Kitai takes a knee and sees the mountain before him. He realises he must climb it to activate the beacon. Exploring the wreck however, he has also realised that the Ursa that was onboard, which was used for training to "ghost" is not in the wreckage and must have escaped.
Passing through the trees, he sees the dead crew hanging there, the purpose to scare him. It works, and the ursa is able to track Kitai by his fear. Reaching the summit of the mountain, Kitai finally realises how to conquer his fear. He begins to focus on the moment rather than the outcome, recalling his fathers words and is able to be unseen by the Ursa. He manages to fight it first, and then destroy it. He sets off the beacon, but his father has drifted away with the blood loss from his injuries.
Rescuers find them both, and Kitai is relieved to see his father is alive. Cypher insists on being helped to stand in respect to his son. Kitai confesses to his dad that he would prefer to work with his mother!!
This is a really good film. I believe it got mixed reception at the cinema, but I don't care about that one bit. I thoroughly enjoyed it. Will is fab, as always, but its Jaden who dazzles. He really is a mini-Will. His mannerisms, his looks - everything. Which is no bad thing. One Will just is not enough for this world in my opinion.
Now don't get me wrong. This is not I am Legend. Its not quite that good. It is completely different. Its the dynamic between the two leads that holds the intensity. Its perhaps not that original in style, but the visual effects are wonderful. The thought of Earth becoming so hostile, is very thought provoking. The bond between father and son, in this film, is both real life and make believe - life imitating art. I imagine Will is a hard act to follow for Jaden, so possibly some truth in the characters here, which make it all the more plausible, and all the more enjoyable to watch. Both of them are great. I would give this an 8 out of 10. It is well worth a watch. Enjoy. :)