Oh, how the mighty have fallen. M. Night Shyamalan was nominated for Best Director in 2000 for his spookfest, The Sixth Sense. I wonder if he thought that was just the beginning, because, after the disappointing opening of After Earth, I am surprised Shyamalan is still being taken seriously.
I have always been generous with my feelings with the filmmaker. I liked The Sixth Sense and Unbreakable, but I LOVED Signs, Shyamalan's alien invasion thriller. After that, my relationship with him gets a bit muddy. I am a big fan of The Village, but that was the first time that audiences really felt disdain for him. I worked at the theater when that came out, I distinctly remember audiences spitting their disgust as they exited the theater. Then Lady in the Water happened...and The Happening...and The Last Airbender...yuck.
You had to squint to see Shyamalan's name listed in the Earth promotional material. Perhaps they wanted to focus on Will Smith leading the film to box office glory? Well, hold your horses, there! No one really went to see After Earth this past weekend (if you did, I would love to hear about it). It debuted in the number 3 slot (behind Now You See Me and Fast & Furious 6) with a little over $27 million. It is Smith's worst summer debut in 20 years. Wild Wild West made more money. Fo reals.
Not only did Shyamalan's latest underperform, the critics were savage when it came to reviewing the flick. It holds a flimsy 12% on Rotten Tomatoes. Here are some quippy quotes:
"After Earth is the kind of picture the Mystery Science Theater 3000 gang would salivate over."
--Tyler Hanley, Palo Alto Weekly
"Is After Earth the worst movie ever made?"
--Joe Morgenstern, Wall Street Journal
Wow. The worst movie ever made? Sheesh. I sort of want to see it now. Some of the news articles circulating online suggest that the Smith family is overexposed and overrated. Obviously, Will Smith, one of Hollywood's most bankable and reliable stars, failed to deliver. I don't think we need to over-analyize it, though. Earth looks kind of lame, and it doesn't help that it appears that Will got his son Jaden an acting gig. But, hey, maybe he just wanted to act with his son who happens to be an up-and-coming actor?
Maybe Will should have done Django Unchained instead. Just saying...