Saturday, October 19, 2013

After Earth: Blu-ray + DVD + Ultraviolet HD Digital Copy Two-Disc Set Review

M. Night Shyamalan, the director of The Sixth Sense, Unbreakable, Signs and other films, collaborated with Will Smith in developing an ecologically minded science fiction story that would call to mind basic archetypes from classic literature while telling an important father and son story. Intended as a vehicle showcasing Smith's son Jaden Smith, who is no stranger to sci-fi since he appeared in the remake of The Day The Earth Stood Still starring Keanu Reeves, the result of the project became After Earth.

The film takes place one thousand years in the future and long after humanity has colonized a new home world called Nova Prime. Jaden Smith plays a cadet eager to live up to the expectations of his father (Will Smith), who is famous for developing  ghosting, a technique for controlling one's fear, which prevents bodily chemical reactions from taking place and thus renders the individual invisible to hideous predatory creators bread to hunt and kill humans by an alien race in contention for control of the planet.

He also has a guilt after his sister saved his life, but lost her own at the claws of one of these creatures. He feels in order to redeem himself that he must become a Ranger like his father, but despite his excellent physical training and evaluation scores, he does not work well with the rest of the cadets and as a result he fails to become a ranger.

In an effort to bring father and son together, the two go on a voyage that ends up crashing on Earth, which is quarantined since life has evolved that is dangerous to humans and the atmosphere is toxic. With only a few days to track 100 kilometers to where the tail end of the ship crashed and retrieve a distress beacon to be rescued or face certain death, both father and son must learn to rely and trust in each other in order for the quest to be successful

A great deal of world development went into the creation of the backstory, which at times one wishes was focused on more because it seems more compelling, but first and foremost After Earth is not so much a sci-fi adventure as it is a father and son adventure and if one views After Earth in that light, I think it would be hard to deny that this is a good family film for middle school aged kids and their parents. Aside for some potentially scary moments involving an alien predator and scenes with Earth creatures that look somewhat prehistoric and taken into mind that not all of the creatures are the attack on sight type, the film has little to no gore, no nudity, no human on human violence, and no profanity. This is really a family film for kids in their "Tweens."

The transfer is excellent with deep colors and taken from a 4K master, which is the source material the Blu-ray was created from. Much like DVDs used to advertise "Mastered in High Definition," it means that the source material was 4K and not the actual product itself. It will probably look great on a 4K set, but this is not a 4K Blu-ray Disc and it will work just fine in it's 1080p (2.40:1) aspect ratio. The DVD included presents the film in a standard definition anamorphic presentation. Well rounded and distinct English DTS Digiital 5.1 Lossless High Defintiion Theatrical Master Audio Sound is provided and with an English Descriptive Audio Track, French (Dubbed In Quebec) DTS-HD MA 5.1 and Spanish Language Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Soundtrack options. The DVD features English, French and Spanish Language Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound as well as an English Descriptive Audio Track. Both discs feature English Subtitles for the Deaf and Hearing Impaired and English, French and Spanish Language Subtitles.

Blu-ray Disc Exclusive content includes an alternate opening (2:19), which is sort of like a very well rounded motion comic and ultimately the opening the film has is better than this. A featurette on Building The World (12:00) of the film adds extra appreciation for the forethought put into the creature design, technology, production design and costume design for the film. Storyboards and CGI development are explored in depth within The Animatics of After Earth (8:39) and Pre-visualizing The Future (5:50) featurettes respectively. 

Bonus features found on both the Blu-ray Disc and DVD include a behind-the-scenes look at the making of the film (8:51) on location shooting (5:25) as well as Jaden Smith announcing the winners of the XPRIZE After Earth Challenge (3:35). There is also a landscape short (5:22) that can be used as a disc in player screensaver.

The Blu-ray + DVD set also includes a redemption code for an Ultraviolet HD Digital Copy of the film. Trailers for Grownups 2, White House Down, One Direction: This Is Us, Battle Of The Year and The Kings Of Summer as well as a Blu-ray Disc spot wrap up the extra value material. The menus on both discs are standard interactive still frames that are easy to navigate. 

After Earth: Blu-ray + DVD + Ultraviolet HD Digital Copy Two-Disc Set is available now at retailers on and offline courtesy of Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.

(C) Copyright 2013 By Mark Rivera
All Rights Reserved.