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"After Earth" is an easy movie to turn into a punching bag. Will Smith came up with an idea for a movie for him and his son Jaden to star in, and hired a laughing stock of a writer/director in M. Night Shyamalan.
It's a pure vanity project for the Smiths, but despite all of that, it's actually pretty enjoyable.
Set a thousand years after humans have abandoned Earth, the Smiths play a father and son who crash land on the planet that's now become deadly with drastic climate change and dangerous creatures.
Will Smith is a cold, distant military father and Jaden is his sensitive son trying to follow in his footsteps. When dad's legs get broken in the crash, the boy has to venture out to the other part of the crashed ship to send off a distress signal. Dad guides him along the way, and the way their relationship develops in the adventure works well.
And it's kind of exciting too.
The computer generated animals aren't very convincing, there are loads of cliches and strong Scientology overtones, and for some reason the Smiths both use a weird accent to sound like they're from another world.
But "After Earth" is an often gorgeous movie, an engaging adventure, and easily the best movie Shyamalan has made in a decade. But I doubt there will be an "After Earth 2."
We can only hope there won't be a Hangover 4. The Wolf Pack has more than overstayed their welcome at this point, and this third entry plays like a paycheck movie for everyone involved.
But at least writer/director Todd Philips did something a bit different this go-around. Where Hangover II was a remake of the original set in Bangkok, Hangover III plays like a true sequel with numerous tie-backs to the first one.
This time, the guys have to track down their buddy Chow, played like nails on chalkboard by Ken Jeong, who owes money to dangerous gangster John Goodman.
While there are a few chuckles, "The Hangover III" mostly just lies there. It's pretty tame and could pass as a PG-13 other than the language and a tacked on scene in the credits. Bradley Cooper and Ed Helms both look like they wish they were somewhere else, and Zack Galifianakis' man-child act has worn thin.
Remember how funny "The Hangover" was? Parts two and three are perfect examples of how Hollywood will ruin anything for an extra buck.
After Earth: * * *
Hangover 3: * *
Out of five stars