Seven years after Will and Jaden Smith’s played father-and-son in “The Pursuit of Happyness,” they co-star in another movie, “After Earth” — M. Night Shyamalan’s sci-fi action drama about the father-and-son duo in a post-apocalyptic future. In this timeline, Earth has become uninhabitable and Ranger soldiers police the worlds.
When Ranger General Cypher (Will Smith) goes on one last ranger mission before his retirement, he decides to take his teenaged son, Kitai (Jaden Smith), a w0uld-be ranger once he passed his exams. But the mission goes horribly wrong and the two are the only survivors when they crash land on Earth. Discovering that both his legs are broken, Cypher relies on his son to find the SOS beacon that’s their ticket home from the wreckage.
Kitai has a lot to live up to. His father is known for his lack of fear and his no-nonsense tone. After Cypher realizes the perilous nature of their situation, he wastes no time in saying, “Retrieve that beacon or we will die.”
Lucky for Kitai, the future holds high-tech gadgets which Cypher uses to track his son’s journey. This means Dad can accompany him with his “When I was your age” stories and criticize him on what he’s doing wrong. (What parent wouldn’t give for this kind of opportunity?)
But technology is a poor substitute for the real thing. And when Kitai screams, “Dad, please come help me,” Dad can only give voice commands from far away.
Like his character Kitai, fourteen-year-old Jaden Smith has a lot to live up to. His father is actor and rapper extraordinaire Will Smith, the winner of four Grammys and the “fresh prince of Bel-Air.” Since the two played father-and-son in “The Pursuit of Happyness,” Will has be nominated for two Oscars and four Golden Globes. But Jaden doesn’t let his daddy’s credentials overshadow him.
He butts heads with his father at the dinner table before Will has to remind him of his manners. He screams at his dad for not being there when his sister dies and then jumps off a cliff. While some of his actions can be dismissed as teenaged rebellion, he certainly makes his presence known. Jaden’s as sincere, charismatic and emotive as his old man, proving that maybe there’s a new “fresh prince” in town.
“After Earth” is directed by M. Night Shyamalan, and written by Shyamalan and Gary Whitta.