Entertainment

Davis: Smith ramps up After Earth

Isla Fisher (left to right), Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson and James Franco star as illusionists who pull off unique crimes in Now You See Me. - Contributed
Isla Fisher (left to right), Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson and James Franco star as illusionists who pull off unique crimes in Now You See Me.
— image credit: Contributed

After Earth had very humble beginnings as a story about a father and son on a camping trip that goes horribly wrong and becomes a fight for survival.

Then Will Smith got involved and he realized that the idea had greater potential and with the help of screenwriter Gary Whitta (The Book of Eli) and screenwriter-director M. Night Shyamalan (The Sixth Sense), the concept is now a big-budget sci-fi action movie set 1000 years in Earth’s future.

Smith had his son in mind to play the son and had not originally intended to play his father in the movie, but eventually decided to take on the role.

A millennia after the human race abandoned Earth, it has re-established itself on a planet outside our solar system called Nova Prime. Smith plays a peacekeeping general named Cypher Raige who is encouraged by his wife to take his son and new recruit Kitai on a mission to Earth. During the journey, their ship is damaged in an asteroid field and crash lands on the planet.

Injured and alone, the two must retrieve an emergency beacon by embarking on a perilous journey across uncharted terrain to signal for help.  However, not only must they navigate unfamiliar territory, they will encounter the dangerous animal species that have evolved without the hindrance of humans and now dominate the planet.

Not only did Smith envision the simple father-son survival story into a much bigger concept for a movie, it is being developed into a multi-platform franchise. A 300-page “bible” has been written, covering the history of mankind from their decision to leave Earth right up to the events in the film. This is being developed into a series of spin-off novels authored by the likes of Peter David, Michael Jan Friedman and Robert Greenberger, who are not only well known in the comic book industry, but also famous for novelizations of movies and TV shows.

Although After Earth looks to be the higher profile movie of the two being released this weekend, Now You See Me boasts an impressive cast and an intriguing concept of replacing Robin Hood’s bow and arrow with magic.

An FBI agent and an Interpol detective track a team of illusionists known as The Four Horsemen who pull off a series of daring heists against corrupt business leaders during their performance.  But instead of keeping it for themselves, they shower the stolen profits on their audiences while somehow staying one step ahead of the law.

The cast includes Jesse Eisenberg, Mark Ruffalo, Woody Harrelson, Isla Fisher, Dave Franco, Michael Caine and Morgan Freeman. Director Louis Leterrier is best known for the first two Transporter movies as well as The Incredible Hulk.

Hollywood legend Robert Redford directs and stars in The Company You Keep, a political thriller about a wanted man and former member of a militant group who goes on the run after a journalist (Shia LaBeouf) outs him.

Redford has assembled an impressive cast including Susan Sarandon, Julie Christie, Nick Nolte, Chris Cooper, Terrence Howard, Stanley Tucci, Brendan Gleeson and Sam Elliot.

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