Review: AFTER EARTH Is Apocalyptically Bad

Contributor; Toronto, Canada (@filmfest_ca)
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Review: AFTER EARTH Is Apocalyptically Bad
Once upon a time, there was a director who made a film about a kid who saw dead people. 

I kind of despised this film at the time, and figured that nobody would fall for the silly farce. Alas, The Sixth Sense became something of a phenomenon, and established its auteur, one M. Night Shyamalan, as a maker of large scale, big event Hollywood films. His next work, Unbreakable, broke me, and I figured I'd never see another of his films again.

I purposely missed out on Signs, and The Village, and The Lady in the Water, each film with progressively lower IMDb ratings, films that are almost farcically bad in terms of poor reputation. Still, each was advertised with the director's name emblazoned on the poster. Like some great author, these weren't just movies, these were films "from writer / director M. Night Shyamalan." And that, it seems, was supposed to mean something.

It's probably no coincidence that as each film decreased in terms of audience appreciation, the prominence of the director's attribution on advertising materials has slipped into nothingness - in what I believe to be a first since Sixth, M. Night's name doesn't appear at all in much of the advertising for this film. Check out the poster; it's as if the studio is well aware that this guy is aesthetic poison, a two-bit hack who  made a bit of cash with a few clichés and has been milking it ever since.

No, instead we have in giant presentation the other sad element of this film. I don't begrudge Will Smith his success, but for years now he's been the worst part of the films he's been a part of (see MIB:3 for proof). This is the guy who turned down QT's Django Unchained because, to quote from an EW interview,  "Django wasn't the lead, so it was like, I need to be the lead. The other character was the lead! I was like, 'No, Quentin, please, I need to kill the bad guy!' "

Instead, what's up Mr. Smith's alley is a vanity project for him and his child, pure and simple. He's even credited with coming up with the story. And for that, dear readers, the star of this show is to be made fun of.

Smith is joined on the poster by his scion, young Jaden. I'm not jaded about this kid, yet, for I've managed somehow to skip the other films, the likes of Karate Kid, or the other project he did with daddy, The Pursuit of Happyness. A (former?) Hollywood A-lister wants to get his kid all famous and stuff, and helps draft a big sci-fi project for him, who's to begrudge him that?

Well, me, I guess. For Jaden is, in a word, terrible in this film. He's all gangly and awkward, looking somewhat like a lunatic while running Tom Cruise style, fingers pointed straight out, cutting the wind like scythes. Determined scenes of running aside, this is a kid who simply can't shoulder a film like this, even if there's so little plot to burden him with. It'd be laughable if it didn't come off as kind of sad, like watching someone flounder at a school production.

The story, if you still care, involves a spaceship that seems to be built out of spare insect parts that crash lands on an abandoned planet (one with apes, no less), and the injured father must send out his son to help recover a rescue beacon. Oh, and the key to battle the bad creature (which they happened to have been transporting) is to have no fear. Thus, we have a lead actor in Will Smith, talking in fleeting, mid-Atlantic accent, trying over Gopro footage and patchy Skype-like teleconferencing to tell his son what to do. All this while not emoting any sense of concern or fear.

Yes, it's as bad as it sounds. In fact, this film makes Oblivion (a movie I didn't hate) look like an unabashed masterpiece.

I'm guessing there are more heavy-handed uses of the Moby Dick metaphor on film, but I'm not sure I've seen any. Trading blowholes for CGI beasts, and making the harpoon a fancy form of lightsaber-like weapon, you half expect some sort of lecture about the nature of Cetacea, and, for our sins, we get that. We even get to see humpbacks in abundance in the human-free planet, reminding us that, hey, everything else would be just fine on terra firma without those damn meddling homo sapiens. Melville would be mortified.

And yet it's even more odd than that. It's as if Smith watched Lord of the Rings and thought, "hey, my kid could be Frodo!" We've got a giant eagle that does the deus ex machina thing in ways that'd make Tolkien blush. There's a Mordor-like quest as well, including a volcano, but this one naturally has hidden hydro-techtonic elements, meaning that there can be swimming inside an active volcano as well!

Sure, why not.

Oh, and the kid needs to use asthma-like inhalers or else he'll die, and he's got a magic suit that serves all kinds of purposes except keeping him warm when it gets cold.

So, yes, the film is as bad as you may have feared it to be. After Earth is so humourless, so devoid of any kind of creativity, that it's almost kind of sad to watch. It's a film that reminds you of sitting in a waiting room, a dull, non-kitschy kind of boredom. This isn't cool bad, or funny bad, or kitschy bad. No, this is just bad bad, and that's really not so much fun.

While this may not bring to an end Shyamalan's sorry career, and we're sure to see more of Mr. and Mr. Smith, what is likely is that this film will be lost to the sands of time, another blip in the summer schedule that will be quickly forgotten.

With this film, you'll spend much of your time waiting for it to be after After Earth, waiting for that respite brought about by the damn thing finally getting to its silly, telegraphed point.

After Earth opens wide in theaters across North America and other territories on Friday, May 31. Check local listings for more information, if you must.

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After EarthJaden SmithM. Night ShyamalanWill SmithGary WhittaSophie OkonedoZoë KravitzActionAdventureSci-Fi

More about After Earth

Around the Internet

ColinJMay 30, 2013 1:37 AM

Shyamalan still needs to apologise for THE LAST AIRBENDER; a staggeringly awful adaptation of a truly wonderful animated action series.

Fuck him.

ColinJMay 30, 2013 1:37 AM

Shyamalan still needs to apologise for THE LAST AIRBENDER; a staggeringly awful adaptation of a truly wonderful animated action series.

Fuck him.

Martin WagnerMay 30, 2013 1:47 AM

This reads more like a fannish rant than a professional review. But it confirms everything I suspected about this movie and I believe every word of it.

ChrisMay 30, 2013 1:52 AM

Agreed, this review needs to be taken down. As a professional journalist I can only shake my head.

Jason GorberMay 30, 2013 2:08 AM

As a professional film reviewer, I thank you for your suggestion.

Still, I humbly recommend revisiting the review after you've suffered through the film and present your own take on the manner. That, of course, would be one way in engaging in discursive conversation, rather than trying to stifle another's point of view.

jbobMay 30, 2013 2:17 AM

Watching the movie wouldn't change the fact you seem to be reviewing the personality of M. Night Shyamalan and his career more than the film.

As a professional reviewer you should be judging the film.

Jason GorberMay 30, 2013 2:21 AM

I recommend beginning at the fourth paragraph, then.

Jim ValentineMay 30, 2013 2:39 AM

I've no doubt this film is terrible but this review is awful. Just so I can understand better what's happened here, is English your first language Jason?

MGMay 30, 2013 3:13 AM

Most of the reviews I have read take extreme issue with M. Night Shyamalan and his previous works as a bias going into the film. That's wack

Jason GorberMay 30, 2013 3:23 AM

Well, that's a first... And, um, yeah... thanks for asking.

Jason GorberMay 30, 2013 3:25 AM

...and yet, went in as open minded as possible. If anything, there's little to distinguish this film at all as his work, there's no trademark flourish that's to be expected from his previous film. I merely point out that even the studio is afraid to attach his name to the project.

I'm again baffled that this is the film that has people most vocal about, but so be it, it's usually the bad films that get talked about, while the many good ones are simply nodded at and ignored.

Vi9May 30, 2013 3:28 AM

Meh, still gonna see it.

Jason GorberMay 30, 2013 3:29 AM

This is why we can't have nice things. :)

Vi9May 30, 2013 3:36 AM

Why? because I see a movie you think sucks? or that I ignore your review which I feel at points is inconsistent?

English AlienMay 30, 2013 3:36 AM

Excellent review, thanks!

[A]May 30, 2013 3:36 AM

ooh I forgot he also made that one -- whaddya know, I forgot about the guy completely

[A]May 30, 2013 3:37 AM

Ouch! Well, another movie I'll be skipping -- thanks for saving me some money! (kidding, I wasn't gonna see it anyway)

Vi9May 30, 2013 3:42 AM

He's going to apologize for making 320 million in box office? you nuts?

Tom Clayton May 30, 2013 3:57 AM

I am not a fan of Jaden Smith's previous work but do you feel good about yourself for writing that a 16 year old kid is "all gangly and awkward?" Why not criticize his lack of acting ability instead of making statements about things he can not change? You can defend yourself as much as you would like but this "review" seems weirdly personal and borderline unprofessional. I have no interest in seeing this film and I am sure your assessments about its quality are warranted but something about this review seems "off". I understand every writer has his own style and voice but they can be critical without resorting to personal attacks. I also didn't really get any sense of the film or reasons why I should or shouldn't see this movie as you pretty much just attacked the three main components of the film for their part failings.

Tom ClaytonMay 30, 2013 4:11 AM

Just went to look at some of your other reviews because I don't like to judge a writer from one gave Battleship a B+. I was correct after reading one piece.

ShaolinWolf .May 30, 2013 4:48 AM

Thanks for the review. One of the best I can remember reading on this site.

ReneeMay 30, 2013 6:05 AM


Finally, a reviewer who doesn't hide behind some faux and spineless "professional" persona of not having an actual personality because he is giving a review about a movie and feels he must detach himself from offering an actual opinion and insight rather than simply spouting some shallow ode to the oh-so-brilliant minds of film school dropouts.

Jaden Smith brings upon himself any criticism offered by reviewers due to his genuinely obnoxious and insufferably cunty "tough guy" act he presents during any and all interview, which would be fine if he could actually do his job, which is to act, but instead he comes across as a carbon-copy of Justin Beiber, apparently his pal.

If Messrs Smith didn't foist this pile of monkey shit (yes, I've sat through it, unfortunately) upon us in such a self-satisfied manner, as though bestowing the huddled masses with some ray of light from the greatness of their being, they wouldn't deserve to have the criticisms leveled at the movie also take into account their utter lack of self awareness that results in their continued mistake of confusing vanilla blandness or teenboy tough guy attitude as being a salve to the injuries incurred by the unfortunate moviegoers forced to sit through this stultifying tripe.

I'd still fuck Jaden's mom, though.

OlliMay 30, 2013 6:47 AM

Do you really think that a 320 million global BO is a sign of quality?

KablamooMay 30, 2013 7:27 AM

Yeaaaaahhhh, I agree that people should probably see the film before joining the argument of whether they agree with the review or not (I do, mostly... average film)... but you are weirdly heavy handed with the
Director bashing, to the point where you're going to draw attention away from your actual critical analysis of the time and more towards how you just hate Shyamalan and his work.

The most cringe-inducing moment is where you sort of celebrate yourself a little by announcing your hatred for Sixth Sense, a film pretty much everyone loved, as if you foresaw this director was shit, and were smugly waiting
for all the sheep to catch on. 'I hated Shyamalan before it was cool!" springs to mind ;)

People really SHOULD watch films before jumping on the defensive though.

Goldie_Hawn_Golden_ShowerMay 30, 2013 7:27 AM

Thank you for saving me 2hr of my life and 10 dollars at the movie theater

KablamooMay 30, 2013 7:29 AM

I wasn't so offended by that, actually. Never saw the original series though, so perhaps I would be a little more angry if I had done?

GMAN73May 30, 2013 7:48 AM

Shyamalan is a hack, the only decent movie he did was SIGNS. Hopefully it will be the end of his career as well as the two irritating Smith clowns

GMAN73May 30, 2013 7:49 AM

Jaden Smith is a complete talentless fucking hack, who only got into Hollywood because of his famous parents.

GMAN73May 30, 2013 7:50 AM

Think I will download a 1080p Blu-Ray MKV Rip once it comes out.

SPMay 30, 2013 8:22 AM

Spot on.

Went in hoping that this might help to redeem smith's horrendous track record or at least offer another smith the opportunity to make good.

Complete pile of steamy poo.

mike richmondMay 30, 2013 8:47 AM

good review.

JayMars84May 30, 2013 8:55 AM

This reminds me of that Family Guy episode where Peter had to do something, like give a review or evaluation, but he goes "I'm not doing that, instead, here's a list of people I hate."

Mina BontempoMay 30, 2013 9:02 AM

That's a terrible review by someone who has the pretense to present oneself as a professional film reviewer in the comments of his own review. If you are, there's no need to say it, really.

As it is, you review displays an insufferable condescension towards spectators who happen to like movies such as The Lady In The Water, The Village, The Last Airbender, or The Happening, which I do.
The fact that, as you put it, you did not detest Oblivion shall serve as a proof of your blindness and of your dishonesty.

There is a trend which consists in putting down Shyamalan while there are plenty films strangely spared that are a much more terrible in comparison. I cannot even say, cut the guy some slack, since sheer (and misplaced) scorn is what drives this review.

Allow me to quote one excerpt from it :"Oh, and the key to battle the bad creature (which they happened to have been transporting) is to have no fear. Thus, we have a lead actor in Will Smith, talking in fleeting, mid-Atlantic accent, trying over Gopro footage and patchy Skype-like teleconferencing to tell his son what to do. All this while not emoting any sense of concern or fear."

It's the writing that looks bad, as for the events themselves, as they are depicted, we have seen more ridiculous things in films before, and that didn't stop, at times, to enjoy them. Reminds me of those send-ups of War of the Worlds, the Spielberg version.

"This isn't cool bad, or funny bad, or kitschy bad. No, this is just bad bad, and that's really not so much fun."

That's professional film reviewing for you. Clap clap clap. Shame on you.

DrewMay 30, 2013 9:15 AM

I find it hard to believe that review such as the one provided could be posted by anyone claiming any level of "professionalism" in the medium.

Mentioning an IMDB film rating as if that is in ANY way a reliable indicator of a film's quality is just icing on the cake.

highly_suspiciousMay 30, 2013 9:28 AM

This thread reads like an AICN thread that got sprayed with the smart gas from the new Apes movie.

Angry poo-slinging nerd rage, yet refreshingly coherent and articulate.

arturoMay 30, 2013 9:29 AM

I don't see anything wrong with the review, the only movie i like from M. Night Shyamalan is Unbreakable...Now lets look at his other films.....

The Sixth Sense = overrated
Signs = Boring
The Village = Utter shit
Lady in the water = embarrassing
The Happening = what the fuck??
The Last Airbender = Need i say more?

I have no doubt that this review is accurate, and i believe every word he wrote, i like Will Smith and have no problem with his son, it's the director who has a problem making good films, and i believe that After Earth will be as bad as the movies i mentioned above..

DachnessMay 30, 2013 9:31 AM

Signs, you mean the movie where aliens that can be killed by water attempt to invade a planet comprised of over 70% water that also receives trillions of gallons of rainfall per year?

Monsiuer HulotMay 30, 2013 9:35 AM does Shyamalan still get to make movies? Every single film he's made since "Unbreakable" has been virtually spat at by critics and the public. Do they really rake in enough money to keep investors interested? Did "Sixth Sense" really buy him a get-out-of-jail-free card, which he's used six times now......and counting? It seemed for a while there that M. NIght was trying to be the Hitchcock of his time, with his "twists" and all, but he might as well be Ed Wood (with better production value)........for all of the really bad/goofy writing and acting he's dumped on the typical Cineplex patron.

Please, stop giving this man ANY money. He's stinking up the film industry. I mean, I guess someone's got to do it, but we already have Michael Bay and Paul W. S. Anderson........I'm ready to let some new hack try. Give this man's funding/paycheck to someone/anyone couldn't get any worse.

Monsiuer HulotMay 30, 2013 9:48 AM

Nooooooo...........because you're the very reason trash like this gets made. You're probably a very nice person, but so are the majority of the other troglodytes who waddle into the theater to have popcorn, slushies, and cinematic poop funneled into their faces. BUT.....ignorance is no excuse. You vote with your cash. Make it count, or.......keep reaching for that celluloid colostomy bag!

PeterKapowMay 30, 2013 10:00 AM

The amount of comments on this page is crazy. Why do people care about this film enough to complain about a review on the Internet? This is Twitch for goodness sake, not AICN! Methinks Scientologists or the Fresh Prince Preservation Society have dispatched a bunch of minions out to defend the disposable sci-fi works their flock put out.

PeterKapowMay 30, 2013 10:03 AM

At a $150 million budget + $130 million in marketing costs, where the studio only sees half (if that) of the purported $320 million gross? Um... yeah he's the dog house with execs. about that one. Notice that there's no Part 2.

VyceVictusMay 30, 2013 10:31 AM

Yeah, the series really is that good, not just "good for a kids show".

VyceVictusMay 30, 2013 10:35 AM

What a horseshit pretentious response. You can watch Mud in the same day as Fast 6. A pesons movie tastes is not a solid judgment of character, but comments likes yours certainly a better indicator of a bad person.

Jason GorberMay 30, 2013 10:52 AM

I dunno, it's less weird than learning there's a Saoirse Ronan army when I dared suggest that THE HOST was terrible...

Jason GorberMay 30, 2013 10:53 AM

I despised UNBREAKABLE when it came out, yet it's one of my GF's favs. She adores "origin" stories, is a sucker for them (amusing since that's what we tend to get now, reboot after reboot that again redoes the origin... I guess she fits a demographic!). I was talking yesterday at the screening that I bet I'd watch that film free from rage and probably enjoy it more these years later, but the experience theatrically was searing.

Jason GorberMay 30, 2013 10:54 AM

I'm glad you wrote this. First, that metaphor is delicious, second, I'm not the only one thinking the same thing. :)

PeterKapowMay 30, 2013 10:59 AM

HOLY CRAP! That was insane! AH!! What the hell?! Where are all these people when this site writes about good movies?! GEEEZ!

Jason GorberMay 30, 2013 11:00 AM

I'm confused, it's not OK to actually have enjoyed elements of OBLIVION (it's pretty, for one), while at the same time not OK to have found this work kind of terrible?

Jason GorberMay 30, 2013 11:01 AM

Serves me right, I guess, for being the guy that hates FAMILY GUY and watches the SIMPSONS still religiously...

Still, I should work on that list, sounds like a good idea.

Jason GorberMay 30, 2013 11:02 AM

heh, well, not entirely sure it completely helps my argument, but it's at least nice to hear from those that saw the film.

Todd BrownMay 30, 2013 11:03 AM

Those movies don't get linked on Rotten Tomatoes and draw lots of random people. Our regular readership is far more sedate. And prone to actual conversation.

Jason GorberMay 30, 2013 11:04 AM

Cheers - again, I strongly encourage all on this thread to dig into the many reviews on this site. For new visitors, it's easy to find the blockbuster chats, but if you take a bit more time here there's loads of films that might pique your interest. We have such a diversity of content up here, some of which sometimes doesn't get the audience it deserves because it doesn't star Will Smith.

Jason GorberMay 30, 2013 11:06 AM

Part of an actor's skill in in their physicality, how they move is as much a part of their character as how they emote or the way that they speak. Jaden's terrifically awkward in this film, not because he's 16, but because of the physical choices he's making playing a nascent soldier.

Jason GorberMay 30, 2013 11:09 AM

I'll fight long and hard on the BATTLESHIP front, for sure. Yes, the review is purposely hyperbolic (, but I stand by the fact that there's good dumb and bad dumb when it comes to Action movies, and that film falls in the former category.

That said, I hope you don't evaluate writers based on whether you agree with them. I bet you there's many films we agree upon, and it'd be a shame if the only reason you enjoyed a particular review of mine was because you too liked (or disliked) a given film.

Jason GorberMay 30, 2013 11:16 AM

It's funny, I've softened on Michael Bay as I've gotten older, and really dug PAIN & GAIN. Ask me a decade ago (after PEARL HARBOR) and I'd have sung a different tune.

Still, I see enough films every year that I'm able to go into these with as little baggage as possible, trying to focus on the work itself. The context of the work comes out not when watching the film but usually when writing the review. If the film is great, you're drawn in, forgetting about everything but the elements of what's transpiring on screen.

That said, certain director trademarks (read: quirks), like say QTs foot fetish or JJs lensflare obsession, both manage to bring you out of the story for a brief moment, and comfort the educated viewer on the consistent hand of the director, relating that film to some great oeuvres. It's a fine line, I grant, but the point remains that ideally we can all do these mental gymnastics while not there to rip apart (or praise!) the film before the first frame rolls.

Mica smarMay 30, 2013 11:30 AM

Review is fine, the unprofessional part is responding to people's critical comments. Please don't ruin my favorite film website by turning it into another AICN.

VyceVictusMay 30, 2013 11:30 AM

Theoretically, do you think a different hollywood journeyman director like Wiseman could have made this a more tolerable experience, or was it doomed from the get-go being a vanity project from the start?

Jason GorberMay 30, 2013 11:53 AM

I find that part of the pleasure of this gig is the interaction - I agree that name calling and questions about the ontology of what constitutes "professionalism" are probably not going to be discussed with any level of coherence, but at the least it gets people talking, and I personally would rather have the writer engage than pretend we don't read these things.

I'm in no way comparing myself to his eloquence (again, IN NO WAY), but perhaps you can instead think of this the way that Ebert would interact on his own site with those that raised questions about what he wrote.

Jason GorberMay 30, 2013 11:54 AM

Impossible to answer, but I get if you stripped MNS' name off the film you wouldn't have been able to guess it was he that wrote/directed it

Hiroaki JohnsonMay 30, 2013 12:01 PM

I thought the volcano imagery was a crass Dianetics plug personally, but that might just be picking nits off a corpse.

Monsiuer HulotMay 30, 2013 12:08 PM

Yeah......YOU can watch "Mud" and "Fast 6"......I won't be watching either. Also, I care not about the character, positive or negative, of people who post comments here. I agree, you could be Mother Theresa, and think that "The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie" is do I would be wrong, Mother Theresa.....but wtf do I care. (And that is sooo far from the point that was being made.......) The point is movies make money because people go to see them. If a shitty, intellectually-vacant movie makes a lot of money.........guess what......"they" are going to make more shitty movies.....and do. Common sense. "Mud" and "Fast 6" just funded some more shitty movies, Mama T, in my evil opinion.

marshottentotMay 30, 2013 12:37 PM

Well, Twitch, congratulations. You've become important enough that industry people come to your site and routinely cry about your content. "But this isn't 'professional' criticism!" Yes, ignore the fact that M. Night Shyamalan is box office poison and just focus on how bad THIS movie is - they omitted Shyamalan's name in the promotional material for a reason and you're fucking it all up!


ChevalierEagleMay 30, 2013 12:49 PM

Fantastic review, gotta love the comments from angry Shyamalan fans.

Ieda MarcondesMay 30, 2013 12:53 PM

Jason, I do hate (HATE, not dislike) most of his movies and I do believe the director has gotten progressively worse, but what you basically admitted in this particular review was: "I watched two of his best films from ten years ago, but I know he's really bad because I checked his last IMDb ratings."

And then again, something like: "I only saw one movie with this kid (probably the worst one he has made so far), but I know he's completely worthless"

Of course you can brush off this comment with something clever/defensive/whatever. But I truly don't intend to be aggressive or diminish your work. If I could, I would have send you an email instead of a comment, because comments are such displays for "clever people" and not much sincerity goes on.

I can only speak from my own experience (or lack of): I'm 26. I want to become a film critic in my country (I'm sorry for any bad english), and I'm trying my best to watch as much as I can from an author or actor before I publish a review about him or her. If I don't know enough about it, I just don't feel entitled to talk about it. When I see others do it, I feel somewhat depressed.

Most people won't deserve it, but try to give them the benefit of the doubt.

davebaxterMay 30, 2013 1:08 PM

IMDB ratings are a reliable indicator of what regular audience members think of a film's quality. And that is something regular audience members have complained that "professional" reviews have lacked virtually since the profession of the critic was established. If anything, including regular people's responses is a big step to bolstering the relevancy of professional criticism to modern audiences.

Ard VijnMay 30, 2013 1:46 PM

I didn't mind that so much actually, but why did they invade this waterlogged rock NAKED?

Ard VijnMay 30, 2013 1:50 PM

I'd like to be on Jason's side but he said he hated UNBREAKABLE so... no can do.

Vi9May 30, 2013 1:52 PM

Marketing isn't normally factored into the box office, Marketing usually comes back in the form of merchandising(this movie had ALOT! that SOLD). So yeah 170 million profit. Also until you get how much the studio see gtfo my

Vi9May 30, 2013 2:00 PM

No, but I know as a director M.Night in terms of box office has always been able to have all BUT 2 of his films(His very first one which he made for 6 million and barely made 1 million and Lady in the water) make double the box office of it's shooting budget. He may be a critical flop, but the money is there even Devil (though it's not confirmed, the film was said to cost 10 million) and The Happening made double reported budget.


Todd BrownMay 30, 2013 2:04 PM

P&A costs are born exclusively by the producers / studio, so you absolutely DO need to factor those in before saying whether a film is profitable. If you spend $280 million to make and release a film you're not profitable until $280 million have actually come back into your bank account. You're also ignoring the (again correct) point that box office receipts are NOT the same thing as money going back to the producer / studio. The exhibitors keep a BIG slice of that. Again, until actual revenue received by the producers is larger than money spent by the producers, they're taking a loss and very definitely NOT in profit. If Airbender had made $170 million profit they'd have made a couple more of them by now. It didn't. It lost money. A LOT of money. Which is why they will never, ever make another.

Vi9May 30, 2013 2:05 PM

How many movies do I see? how much do I make it count? oh wait you're not there holding my wallet and are only informed of this one choice...

Vi9May 30, 2013 2:10 PM

Now can you tell me P&A cost are for this? how much did they make on merchandising? I must ask the latter as that's got to factor into that grand that's where alot of the 130 for marketing went but no one is able to give me an answer.

Jason GorberMay 30, 2013 2:13 PM

Again, it might get slightly lost in the translation - I'm not at all saying Jaden's useless in general, I'm saying in this film he's terrible, and pointed to other films that he may be great in.

We see many, many films, but can't see them all. Perhaps to my detriment, I like to point out when I've not seen some other (often celebrated) performance. That said, I do bring experience to the table, both from a number of films I've seen, studies I've done, other writings that form my body of work, and so on.

I too share your call for giving benefit of doubt, but disagree on what constitutes expertise that allows a critic to convincingly pass judgement on a work. I shouldn't have to see KARATE KID redux to know how Jaden is in an actor in this film, any more than I would need to read the original book to appreciate a given work, or fall in love with TWILIGHT in order to grasp the subtleties of THE HOST (to use but one recent example).

The slagging of IMDB ratings elsewhere in the comments is an interesting one - I brought it up not as a definitive grading of a
film's worth (insofar as anything is), merely pointing out that even in
the most rabid, fan oriented popularity contests of IMDB ratings MNS'
films have consistently had lower numbers. I took it as read that those numbers are not exactly gospel on a film's worth, as evidenced by the fact that SIXTH, a film I dislike, is hovering at 8.2/10.

That said, in terms of relative worth, even from a strong fan community, it at least provides a trend line of diminishing returns that adds a certain rhetorical flair to my discussion.

Finally, your English is excellent - you'll see below I was accused of not being a native speaker, you'll be comforted in knowing that your coherent prose might in fact fool those into thinking it your native tongue moreso than my own.

Jason GorberMay 30, 2013 2:13 PM


Mica smarMay 30, 2013 2:17 PM

Duly noted, perhaps I'm just in shock at seeing so many comments for a movie review on Twitch.

Joe FalionMay 30, 2013 2:53 PM

Hopefully M. Night's next film isn't a Stephenie Meyer script, starring Jaden and Saoirse or we all might have to pitch in to get Gorber a bodyguard. But then considering the burn on his GF that he delivered in an earlier comment we might not have to worry, as his days could be short lived if she sees that.

And also, how dare you have an opinion that differs from other people Gorber, tow the line Mr. Fancypants. This is some fun reading (both review and comments).

joe_chipMay 30, 2013 3:03 PM

This is a shoddy review. If you're going to sound off on why you hates a director, you should admit to having seen more than two of his films, some 14 years ago.

Other than that the author simply can't stand the (two) films he's seen from M. Night Shyamalan and that he is capable of looking up IMDB scores, I'm not sure what to take away from this 'review'. Oh, right, Jaden can't act... but the author doesn't know THAT, either, because he hasn't seen any of his previous films! Seriously, how does one become a 'film critic', for Twitch? Just admit to not having seen dozens of mainstream films and have facial hair?

Ieda MarcondesMay 30, 2013 3:13 PM

Ok, I agree with you on that Twilight/The Host example. You truly don't have to study that much to be able to evaluate those films. And I understand the use of IMDb ratings (or Rotten Tomatoes, or MetaCritic, or what have you) for some rhetorical flair.

But maybe – just maybe – when focusing on a director (which your review kind of does), you should see as many films directed by that particular director as you can. Specially if, like you said, 'these weren't just movies, these were films "from writer / director M. Night Shyamalan."'

If the man sees himself as an true author (poor thing), maybe you should have a better grasp of his body of work before getting that adamant about his qualities and defects.

Cahiers du Cinema loves Shyamalan. I really don't understand why, but it's something worth thinking about.

Anyway, thanks for your kind reply and the compliment on my english. I'll avoid saying anything more in hopes of keeping the good impression. ;-)

Fub FrankMay 30, 2013 3:41 PM

I don't think people care about the film and they're actually critiquing the review itself.

"Why do people care about this film enough to complain about a review on the Internet?"

I don't understand what this is supposed to mean, just because of what site the review is on and that it is on the internet doesn't make it any less credible. That sounds kind of insulting to the person writing the review, I assume they care about the things they write.

I had no intention of seeing the movie myself but decided to read the review anyway and I agree with some of the criticisms people are making of it. I am neither a fan of Will/Jaden Smith and I haven't been a fan of M. Night in years. It is an unfair attempt at taking value away of some of the legitimate criticisms that are made, which should be expected by any writer or of any person in the media in general.

It is inevitable that there were going to be people that flew off the handle or got a little too butt hurt over the review. When all one really has to do if it makes them that upset is stay away from the authors reviews if they're incapable of making sound criticisms.

Todd BrownMay 30, 2013 4:22 PM

No, P&A costs are not for promoting merchandising. That's a separate expense line. P&A is specifically for theatrical release and that's where that entire $130 went. This is a VERY typical number for a wide Hollywood release and it frequently goes higher than this. With Green Lantern, for instance, Warner Brothers reportedly spent over $300. Putting your poster on every bus shelter and the side of every bus across the continent aint cheap, nor are big ads in every major newspaper across the country, nor is the television airtime to run your commercials. And this is what they do for big movies for MONTHS leading up to release. It ads up fast. A 'cheap' movie like Paranormal Activity will typically spend about $20 - $30 million on P&A. Casual viewers forget about the costs of physically promoting and releasing films all the time but it is VERY, VERY common for studios to spend more promoting the theatrical release of a film than they do actually making the film.

And exhibitors don't contribute to P&A. Not on any significant level, ever. The most they will EVER do is pay for a listing somewhere saying what films are showing on their screens. All the heavy lifting with the advertising is left to the producer / studio. ALL OF IT.

Vi9May 30, 2013 4:26 PM

I got ask then what happened to the odd 60 million?

Todd BrownMay 30, 2013 4:34 PM

What odd sixty million? Studio spends $150 making the movie plus another $130 promoting it. That's $280 in costs. Global box office is $320, of which somewhere between $160 and $200 would go back to the studio depending on their deal with the exhibitors around the world. That leaves them with a hole in the $80 - $120 million range from the theatrical receipts. Some of that hole would be filled by home video sales but not enough to make them profitable. The math is pretty simple.

Studios like to make money. If they'd money on the first Airbender they'd have made a second and a third by now to make money on those, too. That was their stated plan when they made the first. First one lost money, so they pulled the plug.

Vi9May 30, 2013 4:37 PM

the math isn't simple if you don't know the varibles of X Y and Z namely where the 160-120 million are taken off

Todd BrownMay 30, 2013 4:41 PM

As a couple other recent examples, Green Lantern grossed just under $220 million at the global box office and still managed to lose significantly more than that. John Carter grossed $282 and lost Disney somewhere in the $200 range. This happens ALL THE TIME. Making movies is expensive. Releasing movies is even more expensive. It's a high risk game. When it pays it pays large but when it doesn't, you lose huge.

Trying to remember what the exact numbers being thrown around were at the time, but when Del Toro was stills pushing his Mountains Of Madness movie the people who did the math said if they made it for around the $150 range the film would ultimately need to gross over $700 worldwide to hit profitability from the theatrical release. There are major expenses at every point of the process, most of which are borne directly by the producers and everybody else involved from exhibitors to PR gets their cut paid to them before a nickel goes back to the people that backed the film.

davebaxterMay 30, 2013 4:55 PM

Waitaminute, where this hate for "Mud" coming from? Why is it a shitty movie? It's easy to argue that it isn't "intellectually vacant", too. Even Fast 6 seems to have a consensus (read: not any one single person's opinion but a seemingly majority viewpoint) among critics and viewers alike that it's worth the time and possibly even the money, depending on what you're paying.

davebaxterMay 30, 2013 4:59 PM

You said "meh, still gonna see it". The "meh" especially does not mean you think it will be good, regardless of the review, but rather implies you don't care if it is or isn't good - "meh" is an expression of "who cares?" And THAT is why we can't have nice things. Not because you disagree, though you might, but Jason was responding to your expression of "I don't give a damn".

Vi9May 30, 2013 5:09 PM

I'm giving a meh to his review. His review is all over the place as it reading to me like "This is horrid...mention IMDB ratings(a red flag imo as IMDB community are not the median for movie watchers at large)...this is mediocre..this is alright.. in the end I think this is horrible." so I give it a "Meh"

davebaxterMay 30, 2013 5:15 PM

That is interesting actually - if IMDB isn't a median for movie watchers at large, what would you say is? I've always considered IMDB to be a mostly casual, everyman kind of movie-centric site.

highly_suspiciousMay 30, 2013 5:26 PM

I cant remember the last time a Twitch writer has had to defend themselves to this degree. I mean, no one has threatened to violently sexually assault your loved ones and you haven't had to endure weight related abuse, but this kind of shit is usually left to Harry's clan to deal with.

I thought it was a great review, and will likely avoid the film because of it (actually this only sealed the deal - it wasn't on my must-see list).

I'm taking a point off you for not digging Sixth Sense though. I also enjoyed his output up to and including The Village and think Signs is actually a masterclass in sound design. His last few can eat a giant bag of dicks.

Vi9May 30, 2013 5:29 PM

You ever read the forums? these guy aren't that casual. I would say Yahoo and Fandango are a better medians. Before you laugh at that think who's more likely to go on fandango and yahoo and rate it? people who don't go to many film sites who aren't up the bum of every detail trying to figure who was in movie X Y and Z like IMDB was MADE to be as IMDB was made as a database of information.

Jason GorberMay 30, 2013 6:59 PM
Jason GorberMay 30, 2013 7:00 PM

I'm sorry, is the argument that people don't dislike MNS films in direct proportion to their release date?

Jason GorberMay 30, 2013 7:01 PM

I believe that was on my job application.

Jason GorberMay 30, 2013 7:02 PM

You and me both - WHO ARE THESE PEOPLE?!

Vi9May 30, 2013 7:11 PM

I'm saying that IMDB is just a little (replace little with lot) bit of people that have a giant stick up their ass and are willing to downvote a film before they've seen it just due to who's attached.

tman418May 30, 2013 7:23 PM

I'm still going to see this. I like Will Smith, and Jaden is shaping up to be a big movie star. And at least he's not repeating the whole "a man experiences a loss of faith, experiences trouble against supernatural forces, and then realizes there's a twist behind it all" plot.

And if the flaws with the plot listed here in this article are the only thing wrong with the plot, I'd say it sounds less sloppy than the plot and script of "The Dark Knight Rises," which was FULL of plot holes and written quite sloppily. But hey, I enjoyed it. I paid for a 15perf/70mm IMAX ticket and bought it later on blu-ray!

Simon de BruynMay 30, 2013 9:06 PM

As a film goer I take all M Night Shamalamadingdong's films as total bias why I'm not going to watch this one. I think it's a fine approach for a critic to take. Everyone goes in with something, and the reasons we read certain critics are for their unique takes. A sterile review would be bland and boring. Criticism is founded on opinion, so I'm not sure why people are expecting an objective journalistic approach to writing this one.

Jason GorberMay 30, 2013 9:36 PM

Hey, we enjoy the company. Again, I saw it on its first theatrical run, a film I kind of wasn't liking, and then, bam, "twist" time... Annoyed the hell out of me. I've admitted I haven't seen it since.

That said, I was perfectly able to find things to love about A.I., much to the chagrin of many a SIXTH fan. Go figure...

Jason GorberMay 30, 2013 9:37 PM

That would be a shame, I welcome your contribution, hopefully in threads for better films than this one.

Jason GorberMay 30, 2013 9:39 PM

And yet, that sounds less dumb than a magic space travelling survival suit that can change colour but not provide thermal insulation.

Jason GorberMay 30, 2013 9:40 PM

genuinely, would appreciate you coming back here and saying what you thought of the film, for good or ill.

Jason GorberMay 30, 2013 9:41 PM

you, sir, just blew my mind.

Jason GorberMay 30, 2013 9:44 PM

You're welcome, as long as you spend that $10 on THIS IS THE END. Or MUD. Or BEFORE MIDNIGHT. Or PIETA. Go support your local movie theatre!

tman418May 30, 2013 11:57 PM

I sure will,

And also, to follow up on this point you made...

"this is the guy who turned down QT's Django Unchained because..."

Did you know that Will Smith was also 1st choice for Neo in "The Matrix?" He turned it down in favor of the Razzie-winning "Wild Wild West." And I think I remember a few years ago Don Cheadle gave an interview to Jon Stewart about "Hotel Rwanda," and he said that Will Smith was also the first considered for his role.

But hey, without Will Smith in the movie "Wild Wild West," we wouldn't have the song "Wild Wild West," which was also a Razzie winner for "worst original song." That's one Razzie award I heavily disagree with. It's the best song written specifically for a movie EVER! It's one of my karaoke secret weapons.

That One GuyMay 31, 2013 12:42 AM

Ugh, it's like every Sci-fi movie that Will Smith is in since "I am Legend" (imo) is getting worst and worst.
It's as if Will is jumping on a sinking life-boat that's leading him to the Titanic.

Tom ClaytonMay 31, 2013 1:41 AM

I give you a ton of credit for standing behind your article, obviously enjoying a film is a choice so everyone may have a different opinion. But you have showed me that at least you have the guts to debate commenters in a respectful way. Wish all writers had the same level of conviction and ability to communicate with their readers in an engaging and respectful way...even when you are not getting the same level of courtesy in return.

hutchMay 31, 2013 3:11 AM


John SzczerbaMay 31, 2013 4:23 AM

"Signs" is "farcically bad" according to it's reputation? everyone i know liked it. I liked it. I just went on rottentomatoes and it's score is 74%. that's a score averaging every review by every critic that matters. that's a pretty good mark. "Sixth Sense" is considered an all-time classic and i share that opinion. When you start out a review bashing it, then it makes the rest of your review meaningless. That's why I only read the very first paragraph and skipped to the bottom to type this comment.

Simon de BruynMay 31, 2013 5:12 AM

Agreed. It is a hard task and Jason handles it with aplomb.

Thomas F. SuttonMay 31, 2013 5:25 AM

Thanks for setting the record straight about SIGNS. I played the Army Recruiter in that film, and I thought M. Knight was the most prepared director I had ever worked for. The film did $408 million worldwide. Not sure why his box office has gone down unless....could it be because Ted Sutton who played the Army Recruiter in SIGNS is not in any of M. Knight's newer movies? Is it possible that it is just that simple?

I'm right here if you need me Knight. Double scale. Anywhere, anytime.
Google Ted Sutton. Call my agent.

Thomas F. SuttonMay 31, 2013 5:43 AM

Monsiuer are wrong. SIGNS did $408 million worldwide. I would hardly call that being spat at by critics and the public. Roger Ebert called SIGNS a perfect movie. May I suggest you do just a little more homework.

I have a good reason for defending this film. I played the Army Recruiter. I lived in NYC then. The film was a huge hit in Manhattan. I could not walk down the street without people saying "great job", or "loved the film". And M. Knight was the most prepared director I had ever worked for. After I shot that scene I went home and made the web page Ted Sutton dot com.

The film came out in August. Hollywood saw that scene and Googled me up. I got an official invitation to move to LA and have west coast representation. Been here 10 years. Actors make more in LA and the weather is great! Without SIGNS and M. Knight I wouldn't be here.

Thomas F. SuttonMay 31, 2013 5:50 AM mentioned you had not seen SIGNS. That is a better film than you think.
Roger Ebert called it a perfect film. I was in it (Army Recruiter) and it earned me an invitation to Hollywood. I was a New York actor at the time and didn't want to do another winter. Love the weather in LA. Wouldn't be here without the part in SIGNS.
I would be interested to hear what you think of it should you ever go back to watch it.

Thomas F. SuttonMay 31, 2013 5:58 AM

Yes SIGNS...where the aliens thought it might be worth working around the water for 7 billion meals. They came to earth to eat us...remember?

Thomas F. SuttonMay 31, 2013 5:58 AM

Some aliens just aren't into shirt and pants.

hutchMay 31, 2013 8:01 AM

oh wow. I thought I was the only one that thinks Family Guy sucks. Fuck all this After Earth shit. Hurry up and post that Astron-6 has a new kickstarter for 'The Editor'. Hurry!

hutchMay 31, 2013 8:08 AM

I can't believe this review haas so many's just...crazy...Shamlanadingding and the Smiths must have carpel tunnel by now...But again, fuck this. Astron-6 has a new kickstarter.

White Rose BrianMay 31, 2013 8:38 AM

There was something about the trailers that I didn't like. This review seems to confirm my suspicions. It looks like I will be skipping this one.

Jason GorberMay 31, 2013 9:46 AM

Cheers, kind of you to say. Things aren't so bad, it's just weird when words like "professionalism" and "bias" are thrown around without context, but that's to be expected.

That said, I see some are getting nailed for making hay of any Scientology elements - I frankly don't care about any agenda on the part of the film on that front, any more than I'd decry LION/WITCH/WARDROBE as veiled Christian propaganda. That said, it is somewhat unusual to have such a response to one film review before many have even seen it, with the attacks being more pointed and personal than normal.

Nothing would make me happier for someone to now think I'm some hack, click on my name above (or the Global Voices link on top right) and find not only the extent of my other writings on this site, but a wealth of other critical voices on this site. For new visitors here just to join the fray, I encourage you to explore, there's lots here that might tickle your fancy, or perhaps give you something else to rail about.

Jason GorberMay 31, 2013 9:53 AM

First, welcome to Twitch! Second, glad you liked signs (I shall not accuse you of "bias", the way I've been accused, just because you got a paycheque for being in the film).

That said, I brought up MNS' other works to demonstrate his diminishing role even in the publicity of his own films, while neither agreeing or disagreeing with that assessment. As someone else tweeted, the biggest twist about this film for many will be the person who directed it, as it's hidden, i believe for the first time, in the jumble of credits below the title.

Secondly, I disagreed with Ebert. A lot. Maybe even a majority of times. But the guy was a hell of a writer, and on a personal basis not only helped me out, but showed me exactly what one could do in this profession. I wrote more about that here the day before his death, which you may find interesting (

All of this is to say, I shall one day perhaps watch SIGNS, and I'll do so with as open a mind as possible, much the way I went into this film. As I said somewhere above, people I think confuse how we draw upon previous experiences to construct film writing in ways that, hopefully, we can dispense with during the running time of the film. We all bring baggage in one form or another, of course, but part of the (dare I say) "skill" brought about from watching hundreds of films a year is the ability to take each as both a unique work, and one that fits within the constellation of other films and references that as a viewer we can draw upon.

Jason GorberMay 31, 2013 10:21 AM

First, you should be doing Kool Moe Dee for Karaoke instead, clearly.

Second, best song ever written for a film, huh? Bold statement... Factually and empirically demonstrable as inaccurate statement, but bold...

Todd BrownMay 31, 2013 10:30 AM

The Editor has my money.

JoshMay 31, 2013 11:42 AM

I just wanted to read some examples of how bad this movie was and, to my dismay, I was exposed to another horrible Gorber review. Mr. Gorber, in my opinion your reviews are horrible and your review of The Master was the worst.

Jason GorberMay 31, 2013 12:25 PM

Hey, welcome back!

In case those of you never read it, Josh is slamming me (personally? professionally?) for this:

A truncated version was presented here at Twitch (, and I also wrote a longer piece about 70mm/4K with regards to that film (

It's nice to have people reading our stuff, good or bad. At any rate, glad you've come to Twitch, if you'd like to be angered by more of my writing (or maybe surprised by some articles that you may enjoy!), you can click my name at the byline for the article and see several more examples...

Brandon K.May 31, 2013 7:40 PM

I feel like your main focus is on M. Night and not the movie so much. Although you mention the movie and what it entails it just seems like you put a lot of fallacies into your article making it hard for me to follow. If M. Night was not even a part of the movie would you still be saying these things? I saw the movie myself last night and thought it was great, but everyone has there own opinion. To each there own I guess.

Jason GorberMay 31, 2013 9:51 PM

shill... :)

Jason GorberMay 31, 2013 9:57 PM

I spent a few paragraphs situating both the descent in public reception of this particular filmmaker, and the recent career changes of the film's star and story teller. As I indicated, I'd be hard pressed to find any explicit "Shyamalanisms" in this film (spoiler: there's no big twist), but our Jim Tudor has done a good job (article here: ) articulating what he finds to be examples of conceptual continuity.

That said, even if Kubrick had directed this film, not his film but this film, I'd think it was abysmal. As I said, repeatedly now, I don't go into a film checking off director's quirks unless they manifest explicitly. I wanted a good movie, and I didn't get one. I'm not alone feeling this way, but nor are you alone having enjoyed the film.

At any rate, thanks for reading, and thanks for the comment.

Anton SiriusMay 31, 2013 10:35 PM

Sir, I admire your gumption in defending Signs, but really the plot is pretty bad.

Mind you, if you watch it right after seeing the Happening it'll look like Shakespeare...

Anton SiriusMay 31, 2013 10:41 PM

Mina, taste is taste and opinion is opinion. Slagging someone as unprofessional because their opinion disagrees with yours is ridiculous.

That said, The Happening and Lady in the Water especially are incredibly bad films. Ludicrously, hilariously bad films, with asinine plots and horrible dialogue and a shocking amount of hubris on the part of the filmmaker that seeps through every frame.

I'm not going to judge you as a person because you admit to liking them though.

Jedi4life2003May 31, 2013 11:02 PM

Is it me, or does Jason seem to catch the most flack for his opinions? Everyone should try to not take these things so seriously, they'll live longer.

hutchJune 1, 2013 8:22 AM

Great! Let's hope we get them what they need.

Ludovic MergerJune 1, 2013 10:01 AM

I stopped reading after the first paragraph. "I kind of despised this film at the time", "Unbreakable broke me". Ok, I agree that the rest of his filmography is pretty bad but yeah, you should have stopped watching his movies if you didn't even like his best work (for me, Unbreakable is a true master piece). I don't care about After Earth, I just wanted to say Shyamalan has done great things by the past.

Jason GorberJune 1, 2013 11:08 AM

Stopped reading after first paragraph and still found time to comment, huh? That's not very TWITCH-y, we encourage people to read all the pretty words before shitting on the review and/or reviewer.

dmajorzJune 1, 2013 6:36 PM

ur not a real movie critic if u refuse to see movies based on a directors name or word of mouth! are u one of those brainwashed internet hacks that listens to everything he hears on the internet and assumes its what if the critics hated it..i don't go to movies to pluck apart its political correctness or whether its scientifically accurate or not...this movie got just as bad reviews as G.I Joe but that movie was pretty damn awesome...why do we always put down young aspiring actors as if thy are supposed to be Oscar contenders right out the box...many young actors that are respected today as adults started out in bad movies like Johnny Depp and Jennifer Anniston...cut these kids he supposed to be acting in Shakespeare productions a life pc zombie!!!!!!

hbJune 1, 2013 6:39 PM

I don't understand the backlash. The review is all about the movie and spot on.

Clifton WebbJune 2, 2013 7:49 AM

So Jason. How many OTHER movies have you not seen?
The review reads more spiteful of Shyamalan and Smith than anything else.

Jason GorberJune 2, 2013 11:32 AM

...more than I could ever count.

OnceJune 6, 2013 8:18 PM

"It's a film that reminds you of sitting in a waiting room"


Mina BontempoJune 6, 2013 8:46 PM

I wasn't disagreeing with the review. I was just saying that it was written by someone who has no manners at all.
Now that I've seen the movie, I can say it's very bad, but no worse, as far that I'm concerned, than The Avengers, Iron Man 3 (ok, that one might be a little better but the fact is, either way, I don't care), and your usual blockbuster fare.
There was, potentially, some originality in After Earth, but the execution does not amount to anything, it's just a little better than I'm a Legend, which was no more necessary.
The art direction is rather awful. Another point for Grober.
That being said, I don't want to shower abuse on Shyamalan. I'm left wondering why that movie cost so much (130 millions, I think), which, in a way, can be scandalous. I rather appreciate in some abstract way the intimate, minimalist look of the movie, the problem is, it is static and boring.
I still love his precedent films, though.

chris miliSeptember 16, 2013 10:23 PM

This author is annoying, I can't wait til someone writes of his death.

ZiviaMay 17, 2014 6:33 PM

This is an awesome review. I can't stand Shamaylan, to the extent that I don't even care if I just botched his name. I'm actually offended by how terrible his films are and think he's nothing more than a smooth-talking narcissist who got lucky enough to con someone into letting him make his first movie. My only complaint about this review is that it is much kinder than I am when I talk about those awful films!