Few directors have had professional journeys as dispiriting as M. Night Shyamalan (The Last Airbender), who has gone from Hollywood darling to punchline in less than a decade. Despite carrying very little of his previous directorial heft, Shyamalan has been given the reins of a potentially quite interesting summer blockbuster in After Earth.
After Earth follows the young, would-be space ranger Kitai Raige as he joins his estranged father Cypher for an interstellar journey. A freak accident crashes their starship on Earth, which has been quarantined for over a thousand years. With Cypher disabled and dying, Kitai must brave a hostile, transformed world for both of their survival.
Shyamalan directs After Earth from a script he co-wrote with Gary Whitta (The Book of Eli). The movie stars the real-life father-and-son team of Will (Men in Black 3) and Jaden Smith (The Karate Kid). It will also feature appearances by Zoë Kravitz (X-Men: First Class) and Kristofer Hivju (Game of Thrones).
There is little in this short, effects-heavy preview that hasn't been seen before in previous trailers. A notable exception is a quick shot of a creature more thoroughly alien than any of the other beasts threatening our survivors – indicating that there may have been an outside influence on Earth's initial evacuation.
Despite his current reputation as a helmer of groan-worthy bombs, Shyamalan can still be a stylish and capable director. He was apparently hand-picked by Will Smith to shepherd After Earth, and it helps that he wasn't the primary scriptwriter for the project. With any luck, After Earth will show off the chops that first made him famous.
After Earth will land in theaters on June 7th, 2013.