Hello, this is Melissa as guest reviewer again!
One thousand years after abandoning Earth, humankind now resides on a planet called Nova Prime. General Cypher Raige (Will Smith) is an admired commanding officer but his cold and calculating demeanor leave his family distant. When General Raige brings his son Kitai (Jaden Smith) with him on a routine trip, he hopes the time together will bring them closer as father and son. After their ship crash-lands on a dangerous and unfamiliar planet Earth, critically-injured General Raige must rely on his inexperienced son to make a perilous journey and recover a rescue beacon.
The opening sequence flashes moments from the middle of the film and then the audience is quickly transported back to the beginning of the story so the history can be explained. Although this type of style can be intriguing, it only creates disjunction and does not flow smoothly in transition. Another anomaly that is distracting from the plot is the bizarre accent used by Will and Jaden Smith. Thankfully, the accent seems to dissipate as the movie progresses.
The story itself does not present much in the way of surprise. There are additional subplots to contend with, but they are simply to extend the suspense when Kitai is in a dangerous situation. Will Smith easily portrays General Raige as calm, but is unconvincing when it comes to his character’s aloofness. In contrast, Jaden Smith as Kitai cannot quite muster his character’s contemptuous attitude and comes off as immature and foolish. Because of these deficits, the audience cannot connect with either father, son or their journey to come full circle.
The saving graces for this film come from the beautiful panoramic views of what a future Earth could look like and its dangerous inhabitants. Wide-ranging temperatures, animals on steroids and active plant life play as much a character in this movie as the father and son.