Will Smith, left, and his son, Jaden, star in Columbia Pictures’ “After Earth.”
3½ stars (out of four)
Story: The events in “After Earth” take place in a distant future where human beings – having seriously damaged Earth – have been living on a different planet for centuries. During a routine military mission, a famous human general (Will Smith) and his 13-year-old son (Jaden Smith) crash land on the planet and must figure out how to survive amid dangerous creatures and a hostile physical landscape.
Starring: Will Smith, Jaden Smith, Sophie Okonedo and Zoë Kravitz
Directed by: M. Night Shyamalan
Bottom line: Writer-director M. Night Shyamalan, who hadn’t made a truly great film since 2002, returns to form with this exciting and well-paced adventure. As with many science fiction efforts, there are flaws. For instance, the characters seem to possess only close-range weapons designed for hand-to-hand combat despite having the technology for intergalactic travel. Look beyond the flaws, however, and one uncovers a thrilling action movie that also has a lot to say about father-son relationships.
“Fast & Furious 6” makes its way into theaters today (May 24).
I’m introducing a new feature here at ForrestHartman.com: Snapshot reviews. Please note that I will still write long-form critiques for my Video Verdict column. These are designed to give readers a quick assessment of new movies. Hopefully you find them useful and fun.
FAST & FURIOUS 6
Story: Dominic Toretto and his crew team with U.S. agent Hobbs in order to capture a dangerous mercenary who is at skilled at motorized hijackings as they used to be. Sweetening the pot is the apparent appearance of Dom’s longtime love, Letty, a woman the whole crew thought was dead.
Starring: Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Jordana Brewster, Michelle Rodriguez, Tyrese Gibson, Ludacris and Gina Carano.
Directed by: Justin Lin (“Better Luck Tomorrow,” “Fast Five”)
Bottom line: The plotting is ridiculous and the dialogue is melodramatic, but the stunts are as good as they get.
Story: Animated film about a teen girl who discovers a tiny world of forest creatures engaged in a constant battle between good and evil. When she is magically transported into their world, she goes on a fantastic adventure.
Voice cast features: Colin Farrell, Josh Hutcherson, Beyonce, Chris O’Dowd, Pitbull, Amanda Seyfried, Christoph Waltz and Jason Sudeikis
Directed by: Chris Wedge (“Ice Age,” “Robots”)
Bottom line: Beautiful 3-D animation coupled with a compelling story. The fantastic writing, and Wedge’s excellent execution, make this the best animated movie since “Rise of the Guardians.”