At The Movies-After Earth

James Duke Mason

James Duke Mason

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We have all been familiarized with the idea of an “earth ending” apocalypse. But what happens after?

“After Earth” begins 1,000 years after the evacuation of Earth. The human population has moved to a different planet, but one with its own problem: the ursa, large monsters that find humans by detecting their fear. The solution is a new type of warrior, called a Ranger that experiences no fear and so cannot be seen by the ursa. Cypher Raige (Will Smith), is one of these Rangers, and at the bidding of his wife, decides to take his son Kitai (Jaden Smith) on a trip to a nearby planet. The ship they travel on is carrying one of the ursa for training purposes. However, the ship crashes due to an asteroid storm, and the father and son find themselves the only two survivors. They have crashed on a now very hostile Earth, and the other half of the ship has landed 100 kilometers away. As Cypher is severely injured, Kitai must take the journey by himself to find a distress beacon in the other half of the ship: before the ursa finds him.

Although “After Earth” will no doubt be classified in the science-fiction category, it is less about that than it is a thinking movie. Although special effects were necessary to the storyline, they were not by any means the best part of the movie. “After Earth” focused more on the father/son relationship between Cypher and Kitai, who incidentally were played by an actual father and son. The movie also played on the theme that our emotions and actions are completely our choice. One who has seen the movie poster for “After Earth” may have gathered this from the tagline, “Danger is real. Fear is a choice.”

The acting was very good. For the most part, it was just Will and Jaden Smith, however, every so often the scenes would flashback to Kitai’s dead sister Senshi (Zoe Kravitz), who haunts Kitai’s memories. The father/son relationship is portrayed very well as a result of having a real father and son cast in the parts.

There are a few ways to describe “After Earth.” Did I like it? Yes. Did I enjoy it? No. At times it was very hard to watch, with a lot of gore and intense action. I am glad that I saw “After Earth” because I felt like it had a good message and I liked the acting. However, it is not the sort of movie that I would probably watch again.

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James Duke Mason

JILL JACKSON’S HOLLYWOOD | TONY RIZZO

Cruise passes on ‘U.N.C.L.E.’ role

HOLLYWOOD — Tom Cruise has decided not to star in the remake of the classic ’60s TV series “The Man from U.N.C.L.E.” in order to concentrate on “Mission Impossible: 5.” Director Guy Ritchie (Madonna’s ex) is zeroing in on Henry Cavill, flying high as Superman in “The Man of Steel,” to team with “The Lone Ranger” Armie Hammer as a pair of secret agents.

Openly gay James Duke Mason, son of pop star Belinda Carlisle and Morgan Mason, has been cast by director Matthew Mishory (“Joshua Tree, 1951: A Portrait of James Dean”) in the noir thriller “Disappear Here.” When they needed additional money, Morgan came on board to produce, as he did in 1989 for “Sex, Lies, and Videotape” with James Spader.

Meanwhile, Francesca Gregorini, daughter of Bond girl Catherine Bach and stepdaughter of Ringo Starr, will direct “Emanuel and the Truth about Fishes.” The film premiered at The Sundance Film Festival and stars Justin Timberlake’s blushing bride, Jessica Biel, along with Alfred Molina and Kaya Scodelario (of the British TV series “Skins” and last year’s remake of “Wuthering Heights”).

And speaking of remakes, the latest film becoming a musical is “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,” aka “Willy Wonka.” The title role is so demanding that four boys will alternate in the part, as they did in “Billy Elliot.” The show opens June 25 in London at The Drury Lane Theatre.

The Chateau Marmont Hotel has always been a hangout for celebrities, such as Leonardo DiCaprio, who keeps an apartment there. “Life at the Marmont,” by Raymond Sarlot and Fred E. Basten, is a wonderful account of the good old days in Hollywood. First published in 1987, it has just been reissued by Penguin Books. Stories and anecdotes by Jill Jackson, who wrote this column before me for decades, are featured on no less than nine pages throughout the book. It’s available as an e-book or in soft cover at www.penguin.com.

Sharon Stone isn’t thrilled with a full-page article by Hollywood & Swine in the showbiz magazine “Variety.” The headline reads “Sharon Stone Named Suspect in Cannes Jewel Heist.” The story, meant to be tongue-in-cheek, unfortunately points out that she hasn’t starred in a film since 2006 and questions why she was even at the Cannes Film Festival. Therefore, with no real reason to be there, except to see Michael Douglas in “Behind the Candelabra,” she must be the thief who stole $1.4 million in jewelry. In very small print they state, “This content was not produced by Variety, but we find it very funny.”

© 2013 King Features Synd., Inc.

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