So, as a reviewer, is it a terrible thing that I didn't find this film to be really THAT awful? It's kinda dumb, yes, it's kinda weak, yes, but I can't find myself positively laying into it like every other critic seems to be able to do. It could even be that I had a bit of extra fun while watching this because I knew what I was walking into. It borders on "so bad it's good" for me, but it's not quite in the same realm as something like 'Troll 2' or 'The Room'. At the end of the day, it's a film I'm glad I saw, just to say I've seen it for myself.
With that said, it's simply a throwaway. Knowing that Shyamalan, and Will and Jaden Smith have all done better, we can just turn to those films for a refresher on their respective talents when this gets too stupid. So, I guess this is one of those movies that's really just kinda "there", for me. I don't like it, I don't hate it, and Shyamalan has since directed a couple of good films with 'The Visit' and 'Split' (at least in my humble opinion). Perhaps it would have effected me more if I saw it when it was released, bearing in mind this is the fourth to last Shyamalan film I have to watch, and two of these titles were from before his breakout with 'The Sixth Sense'. The other, I review next. But we'll get to that later.
Our story follows the badly-named Cypher Raige (Will Smith) and his son, Kitai (Jaden Smith). In an attempt to bond with his son, Cypher takes him on his last voyage before retirement. However, their ship crash-lands on a post-apocalyptic Earth, full of well-evolved predators. Earth had experienced some sort of environmental cataclysm that forced the human race off the planet, and had them settle on another planet called Nova Prime.
Cypher gets himself pinned while somehow Kitai survives with not even a scratch - and considering how the crash happens, it's an incredibly hard sell. Anyway, they need to send a distress beacon, but it's in the other part of the ship that's located a fair distance away. This sends Kitai on his "I'm-gonna-become-a-man" mission, putting him at odds with the savage environment, while Cypher guides him, using a communicator.
The premise on the whole doesn't sound SO bad, if its not a bit typical. But the bad parts of this movie lie mostly in the dialogue, crappy CG effects, weird decisions that contradict other plot points, and the fact that this whole thing is a bit of an ego trip on Will Smith's part. He wrote the story for it, and... well, I mean, just watch the film's execution of things. It's essentially Will nodding to the audience saying "Yes, I know. I AM badass."
Speaking for myself, as I mentioned before, everyone involved here has done much better. If you're looking for a good film with Will and Jaden together in it, check out 'The Pursuit of Happyness'. It's not a sci-fi flick to any degree, but Will is great in it, and Jaden even holds his own as far as a 6-ish-year-old goes. And as far as a good Shyamalan film goes, he's got several, but I'll always recommend 'The Sixth Sense' over anything else. But this, it can just be left alone. Unless we're talking about how goofy it is, no one's missing anything if they skip it.