The film begins more than one thousand years in the future – in fact, one thousand years after humanity was forced to abandon the only home they had ever known. “Earth just gave up on humans,” says Jaden Smith. “Tsunamis, toxic air, toxic water, toxic food, extreme weather – it was like Earth said, ‘You have to get off of me,’ and that’s what humans did.”
Their new home would be the planet Nova Prime, and Nova Prime would know no greater family than the Raiges. Kitai’s father, Cypher Raige – played by Jaden’s father, Will Smith – became a legendary general in the United Ranger Corps, creating a legacy that Kitai is determined to emulate… but all is not going as planned.
“Kitai feels a lot of pressure to step into his father’s shoes,” says Jaden Smith. “Also, Kitai blames himself for his sister’s death – she died years ago in an attack that Kitai thinks he should have done something to stop – and he thinks his dad blames him, too. So the relationship between Kitai and his father is broken, and Kitai is trying to fix it; he’s trying too hard to get his father’s respect and approval.”
Cypher returns home from another long stint of service to learn that Kitai’s intense desire to succeed has led to recklessness, causing him to fail his first attempt to become a Ranger. In an attempt to bridge the rift between father and son, says Will Smith, “Kitai’s mother suggests that Cypher take him on a trip – spend some time together, bonding. But our ship crash-lands in the most inhospitable place in the universe for human beings – which is Earth.”
In the film, everything on Earth has evolved to kill human beings. With his father trapped in the wrecked ship, Kitai will have to brave these elements – and numerous highly evolved species – if he and his father are to have any chance of returning home.
Jaden Smith, now just 14 years old, has already made his mark as a leading man. He first starred on screen opposite his father in “The Pursuit of Happyness,” receiving acclaim for his performance. He would follow that with a supporting role in “The Day the Earth Stood Still” and a leading role opposite Jackie Chan in the worldwide hit “The Karate Kid.” With the release of that film, it was clear that the younger Smith had the talent, the skill, and the charisma to take on such a leading role.
Jaden Smith says that his character is one that any young teen – or anybody who’s been a young teen – can relate to. “Kitai is supposed to be the best of the best – and he is, physically, in what he can do – but he’s reckless,” he says. “He feels he has something to prove, because of who his father is and because of things that have happened in the past. It’s hard for him to control his emotions. So when they crash on Earth, if he is going to survive, he has to put that aside, stop caring about whether or not he impresses his dad. He has to grow up and become a warrior.”
“At the beginning of the movie, Kitai is a little brash, but it’s only from being so scared,” says producer Caleeb Pinkett. “He’s afraid, so he acts like he’s not. The crash strips away all of that bravado, and you see a scared little boy. The only way he’ll get back home is if he can gain the confidence to face his fears – not in a hubristic way, but a humble way of understanding that yes, he is good enough.”
Opening across the Philippines on June 5, “After Earth” is distributed by Columbia Pictures, local office of Sony Pictures Releasing International. Visit http://www.columbiapictures.com.ph for trailers, exclusive content and free downloads. Like us at www.Facebook.com/ColumbiaPicturesPH and join our fan contests.