Critics Consensus

Critics Consensus: After Earth is Lost in Space

Plus, Now You See Me is slick but short on tension.

by | May 31, 2013 | Comments

This week at the movies, we’ve got a father and son on an interplanetary mission (After Earth, starring Will and Jaden Smith) and a group of bank-robbing magicians (Now You See Me, starring Jesse Eisenberg and Mark Ruffalo). What do the critics have to say?

After Earth


It’s been more than a decade since Signs, the last M. Night Shyamalan-directed film to receive positive notices from critics. One would hope that his collaboration with Will Smith would stem the tide of negative reviews. No such luck; critics say After Earth is largely a morose, disjointed, numbingly-paced sci-fi trip that fails to make the most of its real-life father-son leads. Legendary space ranger Cypher (Will) and his son Kitai (Jaden) are on a mission when their ship crash lands on an abandoned Earth; together, they must navigate a perilous post-apocalyptic wasteland to signal for help. The pundits say that the elder Smith is compelling as always, but he’s largely wasted on a story that’s mostly dull and predictable. (Check out our interview with the Smiths, as well as this week’s 24 Frames for a gallery of Certified Fresh father-son movies.)

Now You See Me


Now You See Me seems like a can’t-miss proposition. It’s a heist thriller with a terrific cast (including Jesse Eisenberg, Mark Ruffalo, Woody Harrelson, Isla Fisher, Morgan Freeman, and Michael Caine) and an intriguing twist (the thieves are illusionists!). Unfortunately, critics say that while Now You See Me is slick and frequently amusing, it’s also mostly superficial and tension-free. The plot: the FBI is on the trail of a crack team of bank robbers, who perform magic shows as a diversion to raid the coffers of corrupt businessmen. The pundits say Now You See Me is never less than watchable thanks to its fine ensemble players, but it’s also light as a feather and occasionally preposterous. (Check out this week’s Total Recall for a countdown of co-star Morgan Freeman’s best-reviewed movies, as well as our interviews with the stars.)

Also opening this week in limited release:

  • Hannah Arendt, a biopic of the legendary philosopher and her coverage of Eichmann trial, is at 100 percent.
  • The History Of Future Folk, a comedy about the intergalactic adventures of a bluegrass band, is at 90 percent.
  • Shadow Dancer, starring Clive Owen and Andrea Riseborough in a thriller about a woman forced to spy on her IRA-affiliated family members, is at Certified Fresh at 86 percent.
  • The Kings of Summer, a comedy about a group of teenagers who decide to spend their summer living in isolation in the woods, is at 79 percent (check out co-stars Megan Mullally and Nick Offerman‘s Five Favorite Films).
  • The East, starring Ellen Page and Alexander Skarsgård in a thriller about a private security spy who infiltrates an anarchist collective, is at 79 percent.
  • The Wall, a psychological sci-fi film about a woman who becomes trapped by a force field while visiting a remote valley, is at 63 percent.
  • American Mary, a horror film about a disenchanted medical student who performs black-market surgeries, is at 62 percent.
  • Student, a drama about a Kazak student whose rudderless existence leads him to a life of crime, is at 57 percent.