Saw the flick “Last Earth” this past Father’s Day and it was a blast! The flick had everything I like in a matinée sci-fi blockbuster: ingenious SFX, a conscientious storyline, fast-paced action, good acting and a hunky leading man, in this case Will Smith.
On the surface the story appears to be about a young man desperately trying to live up to what he feels is the expectation of a heroic father and falling miserably short in his own eyes.
The big picture centers on the complexities of human relationships, in particular the bond of a father and his son. Will Smith’s character Cypher tries to instill in his son Kitai Raige, played by real-life son Jaden Smith, everything’s he’s learned about surviving and thriving in an often times harsh and dangerous world.
It’s no mistake that the message was particularly aimed towards young black men. The tagline of the movie “Danger is real, fear is a choice” is from a speech that Cypher delivers to his son after being asked how he was able to survive a deadly attack from an alien enemy on their planet.
“Fear is not real. The only place that fear can exist is in our thoughts of the future. It is a product of our imagination, causing us to fear things that do not at present and may not ever exist. That is near insanity. Do not misunderstand me danger is very real but fear is a choice. We are all telling ourselves a story and that day mine changed.”
This lesson couldn’t be more poignant today, could it?
“Last Earth” exemplifies the time when a boy ingests everything taught to him by his father and that breakaway moment when he decides to come out from under that paternal, protective wing, to fly on his own. To be his own man.
It is the timeless coming of age story that never gets old, and the real life father/son duo only added to the narrative of a rite of passage that all boys of all nationalities and races should have an opportunity to partake in, but often times miss out on for obvious and not so obvious reasons. Girl’s too of course, but that’s a whole different narrative.
Imagine my confusion then, when finally reading reviews on the movie that called it a flop almost before it even hit the theatres. Critics have the power to make or break a film because people will totally go to or bypass seeing one based on reviews;
NY Daily News: “Summer 2013 has its first bomb, and sadly, it’s landed right on Will Smith.”
The Mirror: “The speaking clock has more emotional range than Will’s son Jaden Smith, with the trite scenes of him bonding with his father simply throw-your-hands-in-the-air bad.”
The Village Voice: “I fear Jaden might face online wrath for his performance here, especially thanks to the numb-tongued Kiwi accent he’s forced to adopt. He’s not bad, especially, but he is a kid asked to do the extraordinary: compel us as he pretends to do ridiculous bullsh–.”
DailyMirror on Twitter: “As Will Smith coldly instructs him to feel, to root in this moment now, to master his own creation, I felt the purest horror I ever have at a Shyamalan film: What if this is what Jaden Smith’s life is actually like?”
These comments left me wondering “What movie did they see?!” There were even cries of nepotism and that Popa Smith used his tremendous star power in creating the role of his son in the movie Kitai Raige, for Jaden. Ummm … duh! There’s a long list of movie star parents who starred opposite their children in movies to help push their careers along. That’s what parents do when trying to create a legacy. It’s obvious that Will Smith wanted the role to be a gift to his son and that it was meant to help propel the boy into the stardom that he now enjoys. And why the heck shouldn’t he? There’s room at the top of the multi-billion dollar movie industry for more than one black male and female superstar, isn’t there?
I would say to those critics that Jaden Smith was the best part of the movie and that his performance held my attention until the very end. And I was clapping at the end (which I rarely do lol!) along with others in my Manhattan theatre audience!
So, I want everyone within the site of this blog to go check out “Last Earth” and if you loved it like I did, spread the word and make this movie the summer blockbuster that it should to be!