'After Earth' leaves critics cold ahead of competitive weekend

Fri May 31, 2013 6:33pm EDT
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By Piya Sinha-Roy

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Will Smith may be one of Hollywood's most bankable action stars, but his new film, "After Earth," in which he stars with his 14-year-old son Jaden, has opened to cold reviews from critics and faces stiff competition in a busy box office weekend.

"After Earth" is a futuristic post-apocalyptic tale of a father and his teenage son in which the young boy must embark on a life-saving mission.

Sony Pictures Entertainment, a division of Sony Corp., spent about $130 million to produce the movie, making it one of the studio's biggest summer releases.

The story is centered on the father-son relationship and the dynamic of a father passing the mantle to his son is mirrored both on screen and off, as the younger Smith leads the action.

Will Smith, 44, who wrote the initial story and was the executive producer of the film, said the project gave him valuable time to spend with his son, with whom he first starred in the 2006 family drama, "The Pursuit of Happyness."

"Filmmaking and entertainment is our family business," Smith said at a recent news conference. "So, it really gave us an opportunity for the last year to spend ten or twelve hours a day together, every day. And for me it's just the best way, for me at least, to parent."

Jaden Smith bears a strong resemblance to his famous father and won over most critics as the lead in 2010's reboot of "The Karate Kid." However, he has not been received as warmly for his performance as ranger Kitai Raige in "After Earth."


Actor Will Smith and his son Jaden Smith arrive for the premiere of their film "After Earth" in New York May 29, 2013. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri