He has a new movie coming out this summer, After Earth. It looks awful, but then, that’s what I’ve come to expect from Will Smith’s Sci-Fi outings.
Jebus. Anyone remember that abomination, I, Robot? How about I Am Legend? I steer clear of these movies with a high concept and a big name star, because usually what you find is that the story is a concoction by committee with an agenda solely to recoup the costs and make lots of money…so we get buzzwords and nods to high-minded causes and the usual action-adventure pap. Just looking at the trailer, I’m getting pissed off: it’s supposed to be a pro-environmentalism movie, and what’s it about? A guy running around in the wilderness fighting off the hostile wildlife.
Anyway, I got one of those generic invitations to help reassure the world that it’s a good science movie. Here’s part of what I was sent:
On May 31st, Columbia Pictures is releasing what is perhaps the biggest movie of the summer, After Earth, starring Will Smith, directed by M. Night Shyamalan.
No. Just no. Shyamalan is a hack. Why do people keep handing him big money and big projects?
There are a lot of science parallels to this film, and I write to see if you or a colleague might be interested in interviewing one of After Earth’s top filmmakers and or a scientist associated herein.
Famous futurist Ray Kurzweil
Jesus fuck. Kurzweil is a consultant? Pill-popping techno-geek with an immortality fetish and no understanding of biology at all is the consultant on a movie with a supposed environmental message? WHY?
explored with Will, his son Jaden Smith, and Elon Musk, how science fact meets science fiction in After Earth, and tghis can be seen here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RocpHuJWolc. As well, XPRIZE has teamed up with Sony to launch an unprecedented robotics challenge (information attached). What’s more, NASA plans to disseminate a lesson plan to teachers based on the scientific implications of After Earth, as seen here http://www.lifeafterearthscience.com/.
OK, I checked out the lesson plan. It’s not bad, but it has nothing to do with the movie — it’s all about biodiversity and cycles and climate change and that sort of thing, by a respectable author of biology textbooks. It’s a merkin to cover the toxic crap that will be in the movie.
In After Earth, earth has devolved, in a sense, to a more primordial state, forcing mankind to leave. One thousand years after this exodus, the planet has built up defense mechanisms so as to prevent the return of its previous human inhabitants. It might be said that nature reacted this way because it perceived humans as a threat to its survival.
“Devolved”? “Primordial state”? Look at the trailer. It’s a lush planet thick with plant and animal life, nothing to force people out. Except, of course, the bizarre hint that there are rapid — really rapid — weather changes (I won’t call it “climate”), in which you can be running through a temperate forest and suddenly a tree will freeze. Yeah, right. As for the teleological rationale, just gag it, goofballs.
Given the backing behind it, the extravagantly expensive Will Smith, the fact that he’s using it as a vehicle to give his son star billing, the horrible director, and the hints of bad science in the trailer, I’m going to call this one right now: it’s going to suck. It will be shiny and glossy and have lots of CGI, but it will suck hard.
I saw Iron Man 3 last night, and let me just say…I am so tired of SF movies that resolve all of their conflicts with a big battle with the baddies, preferably featuring huge explosions and impossible physics. This one is going to up the ante with idiot biology added to the profit-making mix.
They asked if I wanted to interview any of the scientists or writers involved. I don’t think so.
Although a conversation with Ray Kurzweil could be…fun.