A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Kitai's journey teaches him that only by facing your fears can you realize your full potential. His father teaches that although danger may be real, fear is just a state of mind. A cautionary tale about taking care of our planet (destroyed by years of pollution and war) is mitigated by the eye-catching new planet of 1,000 years in the future.
Positive Role Models
Adults and children model virtues worth aspiring to. Although Cypher is distant and stern with his son, his love radiates clearly. And in the end, he's able to demonstrate his love and open his heart and mind to what his son has to give. Kitai is brave and loving and overcomes his fears. Mother Faia is an exemplar of loving support, and sister Senshi is brave and caring, saving her brother's life more than once.
Violence & Scariness
Constant peril. Some gross scenes with blood, as when Cypher must operate on his own leg. Kitai sees some crushed baby eagles that he wasn't able to save. Human victims of the alien monster are shown impaled on tree branches. Most of the violence depicted on screen appears in shadow or silhouette, and blood is mostly after the fact. A few moments when something scary pops out unexpectedly. The backstory involves a boy witnessing his sister being killed by an animal.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Flashback kisses and affection between husband and wife.
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Cypher says "damn" once, there's one "oh God" (as an exclamation), and there's one reference to something that "sucks."
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Cypher almost takes pain killers that would make him drowsy (entirely understandable given his severely broken legs and little hope of rescue) but decides against it.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that After Earth -- which stars Will Smith and his son Jaden and was directed by M. Night Shyamalan -- is a scary monster movie with a few dead bodies and some blood. The alien monster is grotesque, overpowering, and able to trick humans into feeling fear, and viewers see a few of his human victims impaled on tree branches. No main characters die, but a majestic eagle who saves a boy's life sacrifices its own to do so, and viewers see animal carcasses. Punctuating the exciting and violent sci-fi action are laughs and scenes of strong family warmth and bonding, strong role models, and positive life lessons learned. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
AFTER EARTH presents a future with a lot of cool technology and eye candy. And director M. Night Shyamalan deftly weaves excellent special effects action and excitement with the development of the father-son relationship. As Cypher, Will Smith convincingly portrays the stern, strict military man, often away from home on long tours of duty and unable to show much emotion to others. Jaden Smith, as Katai, has a few weak points in his performance (why was he asked to use that accent in the first place?), but he capably carries the bulk of the action. Predictably, the father and son are ultimately able to bond and demonstrate their emotions to one another, but watching them get there in front of the sci-fi action backdrop sure is a lot of fun.
There's a lot to admire here, especially the strong family bonds and positive role modeling of all the main characters, even though the Will Smith formula feels familiar. The heartbreaking deaths of some animals and the super-scary alien monster add emotional depth and thrills, but the action is punctuated with genuine laughs and family warmth, which takes the edge off. Overall, this is a solid sci-fi action movie with strong positive messages about family that teens and possibly older tweens can enjoy with their parents.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.