First look–After Earth: Innocence, a prequel to M. Night Shyamalan and Will Smith’s next sci-fi movie

Review by C.J. Bunce

After Earth is soon to be a major motion picture directed by M. Night Shyamalan and starring Will Smith as General Cypher Raige, leader of a future society of humans on the planet Nova Prime, forging a new human colony world nearly a thousand years after Earth is nearly destroyed by environmental catastrophes.  Smith’s son Jaden will star as Cypher’s 13-year old son Kitai.   The film also stars Zoe Kravitz, daughter of Lenny Kravitz and Lisa Bonet, as well as the young actress Isabelle Fuhrman (Clove in The Hunger Games).

Coming next Wednesday is a tie-in one-shot comic book from Dynamite Comics, titled After Earth: Innocence. 

The set-up for After Earth: Innocence and the coming film is very similar to the excellent animated film from the year 2000 starring the voices of Matt Damon, Bill Pullman and Drew Barrymore, called Titan, A.E. (A.E. was short for After Earth, too).  In Titan, A.E., the Earth of the distant future was also left behind and humanity must learn to live and survive anew.  The world of After Earth, as seen through Spanish artist Beni Lobel’s pencils, inks, and colors, also has the feel of Battlestar Galactica, also set far from home in Earth’s future, and also with an emphasis on both politics and religion in mankind’s daily life.  Nova Prime is a divided world, split between the science-focused humans under the leadership of a woman named Bree Kincaid referred to as the Savant and followers of a religious order under a leader named M’uss Cornetta, referred to as the Primus.

After Earth: Innocence is a prequel to next year’s movie release written by Michael Jan Friedman and Robert Greenberger, featuring General Raige years before he becomes leader of the Ranger Corps.  He’s a five-year-old, being told by his father the story of how their ancestors first encountered an alien attack on Nova Prime.  Telling the tale to his son in flashback, the parallel history of his ancestor Commander Raige and his son Carter is a story of a father and son torn apart by the death of Carter’s mother caused by the Skrel.  Carter is a strong-willed and defiant youth who seeks out and locates a downed Skrel ship containing technology that may help the humans better fend off the Skrel.

It’s not hard to see Will Smith and son Jaden play out these parallel lives in movie form.  Will Smith acts well with kids on film, and he has played a similar role in the 1996 film Independence Day.  We haven’t seen a strong Shyamalan film in a while, but maybe the one-two punch of Smith and Shyamalan will be what it takes to make a hit sci-fi film for the director.

As a standalone comic, After Earth: Innocence provides some basic world building and nice groundwork for a film that advance marketing suggests will require Smith’s character to take his colony back to the post-apocalypse, toxic planet Earth.

After Earth: Innocence hits comic store shelves next Wednesday, October 17, 2012, and the M. Night Shyamalan movie After Earth is scheduled to be released in theaters June 7, 2013.

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