Release Date: May 31, 2013
Director: M. Night Shyamalan
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Film Pulse Score: 3/10
For over a millennia Earth has been uninhabited by human beings. Mankind had pretty much destroyed the planet and was forced to relocate to another planet, Nova Prime. Earth is now considered a quarantined zone. Kitai has always wanted to be a ranger like his father, General Cypher Raige. So desperate to please his father he isn’t beyond taking risks, rushing into things or getting into trouble; a typical teenage boy even in the future. While en route to a training camp their ship is severely damaged during a meteor storm and crash lands on Earth. Critically wounded, Cypher sends his son out into this deadly and unfamiliar world to embark on a mission that means certain death for both of them if he fails.
Certainly sounds like this has the makings of a fun sci-fi/adventure. A race against time. A struggle for survival. Alien worlds. A boy coming of age. A boy on an adventure with danger around every turn. While all the above is present and accounted for in this film it does not deliver the goods. It’s dull. Lifeless. There is absolutely no sense of awe or wonder on display here. Like Cypher, the film is so cold and calculated in its execution that it is devoid of emotion. Yes a son is desperately trying to save his father but you get no sense that you should care. There is nothing here that hasn’t been done before and it feels like it’s just going through the motions. Start at Point A and go to Point B and throw some stuff in there to help move the story along or at least make it interesting. It seems they picked the wrong filler.
M. Night Shymalan has managed to direct the life out of his picture. He’s like a bad magician. He’s throwing all kinds of stuff on the screen in an attempt to misdirect you from seeing that he’s hiding the fact that there’s nothing of substance there. Scenes meant to evoke tension are flatlined. Tender and emotional scenes come off as cheesy. A warm moment between Kitai and nature illicits indifference. It’s rather inexplicable how Shymalan has managed to make a lifeless sci-fi/adventure film. Despite George Lucas’ failings as a director his prequel trilogy still had an undeniable energy and life to it even if they were mostly bad films.
While the Smiths, Will and Jaden, do their best the performances still fall flat. It felt like they were just phoning it in. While Jaden had more to do it never felt like he was in jeopardy and it looked like Will was so disinterested that he just wanted to go to sleep. His performance wasn’t as bad as the one he did in Men in Black II but he really didn’t make much of an effort to pull the viewer in. The only other major players were Sophie Okonedo and Zoe Kravitz as Kitai’s mother and sister but their parts were fairly inconsequential.
There’s a decent story to be told in there but it was poorly executed. Shymalan is making a move on Uwe Boll territory but Boll is actually starting to make decent films whereas Shymalan has made one bad one after another. It’s amazing to think this guy made The Sixth Sense and Unbreakable…or still making films for that matter. “Danger is real. Fear is a choice” is what we’re told by the ad slogan and by Cypher. Well “Boredom is real. Not going is a choice.”