I've read a lot of critique about this movie, about Jayden Smith in particular, and how he can't act.
I disagree, I don't see any flaws in his acting (excluding his attempts at acting like his dad). What I do see a flaw in is his speech. Unlike his dad, his voice doesn't have the clarity really needed for narration, or the same strength. I don't catch all the words he says, and that's a pretty big downside to a movie. I wonder if this is what bugs people when they criticize the act, or if they find his persona a bit too apathetic? Isn't that what he's supposed to be, isn't he supposed to have his emotions intentionally restrained?
As for the father and son relationship, as real in the movie as it is for real, it builds for some real tension; some really uncomfortable moments. The father is a legend, a hero, completely without fear, whereas the son has almost impossible expectations to live up to.
I'm not fond of the tension, the uncomfortable moments where the father gives orders to his son, where emotions aren't allowed free reign, yet where it's easy to see that none of them are emotionally unaffected. Just five minutes in the tension begins, and then... it pans out... a bit. Probably because there's a greater distance between them, and ironically they are at the same time growing closer; bonding. I wonder how much of the tension between father and son is real, and how much is acted out, and seeing as I can't really differentiate between what is and what isn't they must be acting pretty good the both of them. If it is real, what better way to manage trauma or relationship trouble than by making a movie out of it? Might be the first time it's done, too!
The movie takes place in a post-apocalyptic future, when humans have moved away from the world, where Earth is forbidden space, a planet where 'everything has evolved to kill humans'... as they say. It turns out this isn't really the case, as they crash land on the planet, and our very young hero ventures off on a mission to light an emergency beacon and signal their rescue.
It's a venture through awesome sceneries, through nature, through a world where humankind no longer dominates, and animals reign free. At the end, that's how it's left, and it's definitely for the better. You'd have thought humans would take over once again when they realize it wasn't so bad after all... but I'm glad that wasn't the case! It feels like there's a moral in here, in that we are wasting our natural resources, killing off anyone who's not human, really taking over the planet. Maybe that won't be the devastation of humankind as we know it, but it's definitely not progress, it's not progress that I'd like to live with. Maybe people get used to the cities, and in a few generations nobody will still actually long for real wilderness, just enjoy the trees that be... but for now, I still love the wild, that's where my soul is.
And that's where this movie takes place, in a distant future, and yet in a scenery as strange to the main characters as it's like a glimpse of hope for us, of how it could and should be.
At the end I am admittedly a bit bugged over Jayden's acting, but it's not because he's not a good actor, it's because I feel he's watched too many of his dad's movies. He's acting just like Will Smith, and it's not working for him. Maybe he's just not old enough yet: he's skinny, he doesn't have the same (natural?) charm and charisma, he doesn't have the same vocal resources... hope he figures out his own style. Maybe it was this movie in particular that made the clash so apparent, with both of them in the same movie, or maybe it's a constant dilemma.
Gotta be tough growing up with expectations, like the movie; like in real life. I like the symbolism there. In the movie it's becoming a ranger, in real life it's becoming an actor, paradoxically... maybe through this movie. :)
Also, considering the movie stars almost only Jayden and Will (apart from wild animals/aliens), it's a surprisingly captivating flick. I'm always awed when I watch something with so few characters, that still manages to grab your attention. Not the best movie of the year, but definitely a good watch! Looks like sci-fi is on the rise.
rated 3/5: not bad