It was tucked away in a quieter corner while studios like Marvel were announcing things left and right, and WB was stomping down the house, but M. Night Shyamalan’s After Earth showed up to Comic Con. Not only did it show up, but it managed to impress many of the panel’s attendees without showing any footage but instead releasing a viral teaser, and emphasizing in the Q&A how much this is really Will Smith’s project.
First up, take a look at this viral video that uses a Timeline profile as a basis to run down some 50 years of history, and also suggesting that the Facebook design team will be taking the next half-century off. The plot of the film is a very Wall•E‘an scenario in which humans have departed from earth after nature systematically revolts against us, and now Jaden and Will Smith find themselves crash-landed on a planet that has grown very hostile towards humans in the last 1,000 years. Turns out, alien technology was at the root of man’s scientific advances in the 20th century, and is linked directly to downfall and survival off-planet.
Take a look…
Less officially though, you can also get a better impression of the flick from the words of writer Gary Whitta, who was the first man on the scene so to speak, and beat out the film based on ideas from Will Smith. The real impression I took away from all of this is that Smith had an interesting idea of a dynamic he wanted to play out on screen with his son (one which gave the later a front-and-center role), and that the infamous M. Night was much later brought on to direct.
I’ve been intrigued by this project for some time, despite obvious anxiety about anything M. Night touches, and the suggestion that it was born out of character interests means there’s at least some universe where this is a good movie. Shyamalan knew how to shoot a solid film at one point, it’s always possible he’ll figure that out again if he’s on the right leash. Is Smith that leash?