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FILM FANS: Mystery, drama save 'After Earth'

EDITOR'S NOTE: Film Fans features local residents reviewing the movie of the week: "After Earth." Want to be a film fan? Email features@gwinnettdailypost.com.

2 1/2 out of 4 stars

Here we have the Smith father and son team combining for an intriguing encounter together. The last Dow Jones bell had rung some 1,000 years earlier and the Earth and beyond is an interplanetary adventure land. Will Smith plays Cypher and Jaden Smith plays Kitai, his teenage son. After a few uneventful opening scenes Cypher decides to take Kitai on a space mission along with a full crew.

As you might expect, the mission ends in a world of trouble. Cypher avoids an asteroid field but the ship is damaged. Then the ship hits more intense trouble as the crew is lost and Cypher's legs are broken. The only able person who survives is Kitai, who must go at it alone to locate the balboa energy pack or they will not survive. During this segment, a variety of alien creatures provide a stimulating time for the audience. Although a bit slow in parts and a little far-fetched on balance, the movie somehow delivers a requisite level of mystery, drama and entertainment to get a passing grade.

-- Rick Wright, Auburn

3 out of 4 stars

The fascination of sci-fi set in the future 1,000 years after the last humans have left the planet and the relationship -- or lack of -- between father and son makes this movie different from all other summer flicks. Nothing in the emotionless way Gen. Cypher Raige (Will Smith) acts makes sense until you realize that Smith's character really wants his son, Kitai (Smith's actual 14-year-old son Jaden), to grow up. And grow he does -- but barely. The story is weird, since you start to learn about the son from the very beginning, but only start learning about the father as the movie unrolls after their ship crashed while he is immobilized.

The most memorable line of the movie is, "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," which some people object to as being a commercial for Scientology. Even the volcano in the movie seems to be a copy of the one on the "Dianetics" book cover. I didn't object because both applied to the movie without being a distraction. The computer animation and the interpretation of earth after humans have left it was as mesmerizing as the planet from Avatar -- Pandora -- but with luscious real vegetation filmed in Costa Rica's jungles. The verdict: OK to wait for DVD.

-- Alfred Richner, Duluth

2 out of 4 stars

The summer movie season started off strong with "Iron Man 3" and "Star Trek," but then quickly took a nose dive with "Hangover 3" and now "After Earth." This movie is another story of a future Earth being abandoned after us humans killed it. Sound familiar? I thought so, but I was still curious to see this movie because the advertising made it sound as if Earth was a horrible place to live and being on the planet would be really bad. That's not entirely true and at some point in the movie you begin to realize that this isn't what you were expecting.

Besides a weak storyline, I was also disappointed with the cast. Will Smith played a very one-dimensional character with zero personality and his son Jaden Smith, despite being a good "Karate Kid," just couldn't carry this movie. I recommend waiting for the rental or skipping it altogether and watching "Wall-E" for the fifth time.

-- Kenny Grams, Lawrenceville