Sony pictures has announced that a new science-fiction adventure film directed by M. Night Shyamalan will star Jaden Smith.
Shymalan is arguably one of the worst popular filmmakers of our time. He had a couple of good movie at the height of his career (Sixth Sense and Unbreakable), but has since gone downhill, culminating in one of the greatest cinematic disappointment of the century so far, The Last Airbender.
Giving this man the reins of another film, much less one that he wrote himself, just seems like a punch to the gut for anyone who likes genre movies.
At best, it’ll just be a terrible movie. At worst, it will counter the progress recently made in genre storytelling.
Adding an uppercut to that jab, Jaden Smith had been confirmed as the star of the film. This is a two-fold mistake.
First, Jaden Smith is not a good actor. He did okay alongside his father in Pursuit of Happyness, but in that film he only needed to sit around and look cute. When he got a chance at a starring role in The Karate Kid, he fell short of the very few requirements which that role asked of him. He made it apparent that the only emotion he can show convincingly is whinny petulance, and managing to make one of the easiest to root for characters in cinema history utterly unlikable.
Second, Shyamalan has shown on several occasions, including with the new The Last Airbender, that he has no idea how to direct children in major roles. The last time a child showed any actual acting in one of his movies was in The Sixth Sense, and that actor was a recognized prodigy, who likely needed little help from the director.
The film’s original working title was One Thousand A.E., though that name has been dropped from the project, and it is now working without a title. The premise as described by the studio is this: Jaden Smith is trapped on an “abandoned planet” whatever that means, when his ship crashes. His adventure for survival is hampered by his estranged father (played by Will Smith, the only bright point in a dim tale), who was also on the ship. Will Smith is also a co-producer.
While I may be willing to give Jaden another chance someday, I think I’m done giving chances to Shyamalan. I’m hoping that this is one project which never makes it out of development.