Movie Review: After Earth plus XPrize Challenge Winners


After Earth DVD

Now available on Blu-ray, DVD and Digital Download is the film After Earth, staring real life father and son Will and Jaden Smith. The film was directed by M. Night Shyamalan.

After Earth is a futuristic Sci-Fi thriller of life on another planet after people fled Earth 1,000 years earlier when a cataclysmic event forced humanity to abandon the planet. Now the human race faces another threat from aliens who use vicious beasts called Ursas to destroy all humans. Ursas are totally blind but they can smell fear.

One man was able to suppress his fear and fight off the Ursas – Cypher Raige. Now a General in the United Ranger Corps, Cypher teaches others how to fight the Ursas.

Cypher’s son, Kitai, wants to be a part of the United Ranger Corps to impress his father. The two of them have an estranged relationship due to the fact that Cypher is never home and Kitai harbors overwhelming guilt over the death of his older sister, Senshi, after she gave up her life to defend him against an Ursas when he was a young boy.

When Cypher decides it’s time to retire, his wife Faia encourages him to take their son along with him on one last run. It would be a great way to bond with his estranged son as well as lift his spirits after he was denied graduating from United Ranger Corps.

The ship carrying Cypher, Kitai and a few other United Rangers gets caught up in a meteor shower and is forced to go into warp speed to escape. In doing so the ship is fatally damaged and must land on the nearest planet – Earth. Earth has been taken over by vicious beasts since humanity fled 1,000 years earlier. But they have no other choice.

The ship crash lands on Earth, killing all passengers except Cypher and Kitai. Cypher suffers from a lot of injuries.

After Earth Jaden Smith

The only way they can be rescued is if Kitai finds the rescue beacon that is with the other part of the ship which fall to Earth many miles away. Kitai did not pass all his United Ranger training and is ill-equipped to defend himself against a world of deadly creatures and terrain. Kitai is also riddled with fear which is the one thing that could be his undoing – especially if a Ursas smells his fear.

If help does not arrive soon Cypher could die from his injuries and Kitai will be left alone on a hostel planet.

Will Kitai get to the rescue beacon before it’s too late? What challenges will he face on his epic journey? To find out you need to pick up a copy of After Earth, now available where ever movies are sold.

There are a few bonus features that come along with the DVD including;

A Father’s Legacy – A behind the scenes look into the making of the film and the relationship between Will and Jaden Smith. It was interesting to see how scenes were initially filmed before adding in all the computer animated special effects. It also shows viewers how much physical work Jaden had to do for his part in the film. He trained many months in advance to prepare for his role in After Earth.

1,000 years in 300 seconds – This features is basically another behind the scenes look. There isn’t dialogue like there is in the first bonus feature. It’s more just images from the making of this film. This feature seemed redundant. Most of this could have been shown in the Father’s Legacy feature.

The Nature of the Future – This feature simply shows viewers images from the areas in which the film was shot including Costa Rica, California and Utah. The imagery was beautiful but it didn’t seem to have much to do with the film.

XPrize After Earth Challenge and winners – Kicking off in April, the challenge set out to give students leadership and team-building
experiences, while teaching them about sustainability practices, video production, building landscape models and robotics programming.   The winning team is highlighted in this bonus feature.


Entries into the competition were submitted from young pioneers spanning four continents,
with countries including Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Poland, India, Egypt, Hungary, Singapore, USA, and Oman.  The winning team is comprised of sisters Mia and Zoe Goff, ages 13 and 15, and led by their father, Evan, from Missouri, USA. Together, “Team Starling” played the role of Ranger cadets, competing in a two-stage competition that required discussions on space exploration and environmental sustainability, while applying fundamental principles of science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics to navigate the fictitious universe of After Earth. 

“We had so much fun with the amazing learning opportunity that the XPRIZE After Earth Challenge provided,” Zoe Goff said.  “If given the chance, we would definitely do it all over again. It was so cool that even though we were given guidelines for our missions, we were still able to build our mission models out of our own creativity.”

In Phase One of the challenge, teams created a two- to three-minute video essay that answered targeted questions about the importance of space exploration, and the relationship between sustainability and survival. Judges chose the top 10 teams to move on to the final round, where they received a LEGO® MINDSTORMS® kit to use for their mission and a Sony Handycam® HDR-PJ230 camcorder to document their experience.  They designed and built a Nova Prime landscape (playfield), upon which their robot completed a series of mission tasks in one or more of four thematic areas: natural resources, renewable energy, agriculture, and shelter.

Over all I thought the film was OK. I liked the special effects (the Ursas is pretty cool) and some of the futuristic stuff was interesting too (such as their homes and the tools and technology they used).

Will Smith is a great actor and has been in some great films, but After Earth is not one of his best films. I would put this film in the same category as Wild, Wild West and Hancock. I couldn’t “connect” with his character. Even the way he talked in the film put me off. He sounded like a robot at times. He was also very stern and cold towards his son until the very end. I didn’t find him very “likeable”.

Jaden Smith did a great job with all the physical stunts and can act but I think he has a long way to go before he’s up to his father’s acting level.

For adult this film might seem to dragged out and lacking “pizzazz”. I think this film would resonate better with older children and young teens. They might connect more with Jaden’s character.

Did you see After Earth? What did you think of the film?

Here is the film’s trailer for your enjoyment.



*I received a free screener copy in order to do this review. There was no compensation. The opinions expressed are my own and not influenced in any way.

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About Kimberly

Kimberly Vetrano resides in the suburbs of New York City with her family and "mini zoo" consisting of five cats, a dog and a Goldfish. Kimberly is a teacher's assistant for a Kindergarten class. When she is not working or blogging, Kimberly enjoys taking photos of nature and hanging out with family and friends.


  1. I didn’t see this movie when it was out. My son saw it and said it was OK. He felt it was more of a rental then theater movie.