<Todd>’s review published on Letterboxd:
"That is not ideal cadet" - Will Smith,
- M. Night Shyamalan Ranked: boxd.it/2qcOy
What is with this faux accent that the Smith family tries to pull off?
The basic framework for this movie actually works pretty well. A father and son are crashed on the abandoned and dangerous planet Earth and the son, who is less experienced, has to go a get the rescue beacon before the hero father and son die. So why does this suck so bad? I think it's a combination of a number of things, most I won't go into, but primarily having to do with poor execution and a phoned in performance from Will Smith he is acting down to his son's level... which is low.
As a general rule I don't like to shit on child actors but Jaden Smith's ego seems fine so fuck this kid's acting he is the absolute worst and it makes this film feel like a cheap vanity project for the Smith family. The whole damn movie relies on powerful and emotional conversations between a father and a son and the worst insult I can give to the acting in this film is that I didn't believe they were father and son... and they actually are father and son. It's bad.
The characters in this film aren't quite unlikable but they aren't in any way likable either and this film relies heavily on two male characters talking to each other for the vast majority of the film... if they aren't likable the film suffers and this one does greatly. It's amazing for a film to be able to make Will Smith boring but this manages to do so. The arc each of the characters has is obvious from the beginning so there is really nothing to care about as the film progresses and the flashbacks do little to help with the stuff that is going on.
This is supposed to be a science fiction drama and there are definitely some science fiction elements, but many of them are underdeveloped or look pretty bad. It's exciting to go back to Earth after 1,000 years away and see what sort of weird crap has grown there but the answer is "not much." Mostly it's just baboons and big birds with uninspired designs. Everything just feels a little amateur for such a big name film and that's a shame because this framework sets up a lot of opportunities for cool visions of a post-apocalyptic earth but instead it's just Jaden walking through a normal looking forest.
This isn't as bad as some make it out to be, but it's bad.