So. Let’s begin with something trivial.
Yes, it’s a mediocre film. Yes, Jaden Smith can’t act too well, and is only there because papa made it so. Yes, as the father-son-bonding stories go, it’s a bit thin. The technology that sometimes does and sometimes doesn’t work just because a plot device is needed is such a common thing nowadays that it doesn’t even deserve to be noticed. Yes, M. Night Shyamalan isn’t getting better with practice. As I said, a mediocre film. At least it’s not two and a half hours long.
But you know what? So is Independence Day (to pick another Will Smith flic). And going by the IMDb ratings, ID4 is light years ahead of After Earth. Probably because of its insistent and consistent tugging of the America-fuck-yeah heartstrings… But I digress.
Is it because of the reference(s) to the world’s least favourite religion? From all I read, I expected at least three pictures of L’Ron hanging from every vertical surface in sight (or, as the case may be, winking at us from every corner of every touch hologram that Minority Report launched as the sci-fi user interface). But no. The line “fear is a choice” (as stupid as it is) makes an appearance only once, and I wouldn’t have recognised it as something out of the Scientological ‘wisdom’ if it hadn’t been repeatedly pointed out to me.
There’s just one thing that stretched my ability to suspend disbelief too far. ‘The bear‘. Let’s say you’re an alien race that wants to exterminate humans. Why in the carrot’s name would you create a weapon-creature that, while it doesn’t seem to have any problems detecting and interacting with the rest of its environment, can sense live humans (it doesn’t seem to have any problems sensing the dead ones, for its shrike act) by the smell of their fear? And were everyone’s imaginations really running so dry that they had to call it ‘the bear’? But hey, if disabling an alien computer with a virus written on a Mac laptop, in the age when you had – and still have – problems convincing two human-made computers running the same software, directly connected by a cable, to acknowledge each other’s existence, is supposed to be believable, then ‘the bear’ isn’t really so bad.