Thousands of years after the human race has abandoned earth, General Cypher Raige (Will Smith) comes into conflict with S’krell, aliens intent on conquering Nova Prime, where the human race has settled. Their weapon of choice is the Ursas: blind monsters that hunt by sensing fear. The Rangers fight a losing battle until Cypher learns how to destroy them. He learns that by repressing his fear, the Ursas cannot find humans at all, thus making it possible to be killed.
At home, Cypher’s son Kitai Raige (Jaden Smith) blames himself after his sister is killed by an Ursa. Kitai’s application as a Ranger is rejected because of his own recklessness, and his father considers him a failure because. Kitai sets out on a mission with his father after his mother manages to convince Cypher. During the flight, the spaceship is caught in an asteroid shower, causing the ship to crash-land in the now quarantined Earth. The only intact beacon to send off a distress signal is in the other half of the ship, a hundred miles from the half where Cypher and Kitai is in. Kitai must venture into the habitat alone, as both Cypher’s legs are broken. Kitai is warned of the evolved fauna and flora that will kill humans, and also the drastic temperature changes. He is given six capsules that enhances oxygen intake so that he is able to breathe in Earth’s low-oxygen atmosphere.
Kitai travels through dangerous terrain, and some of the capsules gets broken. When he finally confesses to Cypher, he is ordered back to the ship. Kitai refuses, and a disagreement ensues. He sets off to the ship, miraculously makes it there alive, and kills the Ursa when it attacks him. He manages to fire off the beacon, and they return to Nova Prime with a better relationship.
For a movie with tons of potential, it turned out to be a bitter disappointment. It is a sentimental sci-fi stint designed to push Jaden Smith in as action hero, and his acting capabilities sorely fail him. He simply isn’t at the standard where his father is, and I doubt he could ever mature to that level. A word to the young: you don’t have to follow in your father’s footsteps.