First, let me say that I'm not really a proponent of anybody losing their job these days. However, despite my son grudgingly telling me that M. Night Shyamalan directed After Earth and reading countless naysayer accounts on Facebook, I took my kids to see the movie anyway.
We LOVED it! (Like 4 out of 5 stars loved it.) Especially my 11-year-old daughter. My 16-year-old son also enjoyed the challenges, effects and overall plot though he was a little disappointed that there wasn't more action from Will. So he gave it a slightly lower family rating. I noticed on my Facebook page that at least one other poster said her 12-year-old daughter went crazy over Jaden (and, of course, liked the movie, too) though the poster didn't care for it.
Lucky for me, I realized about 20 minutes in that this was Jaden's journey and not Will's story at all. Without any pre-set notions about what the movie should be, I was able to adapt to that reality and immerse myself in the rest of the flick from that perspective.
Apparently, most of the reviewing world is not that flexible. And here is where I fault the film's marketing team.
Why was Will Smith even on the poster? To sell tickets? Will and Jada have produced plenty of entertainment that doesn't splash their photos and titles. This should have been the case with After Earth. A poster featuring Jaden-in-peril aimed at the fantasy action-loving tweenage crowd of 10- to 14-year-old moviegoers would have made all the difference in this movie's success. In my opinion anyway.
I walked away wondering why the movie's marketers and promoters didn't target a Spy Kids or Percy Jackson type viewer. I told my oldest son (the one who forewarned me), that this was absolute Karate Kid and no Independence Day. Why couldn't the Shyamalan-Smith Powers-That-Be see the same truth? To me, it would have given the public the proper framework and allowed the movie to get the reception it deserved.
End of story: Take the kids, see the movie, forget Will, and enjoy.