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Planetfall - An After Earth Fanedit - Complete

Malthus

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qsmdb1U.jpg


2013's After Earth is not a well regarded film.

With an woeful 11% on Rotten Tomatoes and 4.8 on IMDb it's widely considered a stinker. Critics felt After Earth was a dull, ploddingly paced exercise in sentimental sci-fi written by Will Smith solely to bootstrap Jaden Smith's movie career. I have to be honest I skipped this at the cinema after reading the reviews and I would likely have never watched it had I not discovered fanediting. It being a much maligned film is the very reason I decided to buy a copy to simply to see whether I could do something with it.

Upon watching the film two days ago I found myself pleasantly surprised at the range of sci fi ideas it brought to the table. It also has a pretty unique style with it's breathing gel, transforming weapons and a ship who's quasi-organic aesthetic is reminiscent of Farscape's Moya. From a technical perspective there are obvious budget issues, the CGI looks obvious and is very dated compared to its contemporaries. The costumes and sets in the opening act also look cheap and tacky. There is a LOT of exposition and clunky dialogue in the opening act and whole scenes that serve as world building for things that are ultimately inconsequential. It also has overly saccharine flash backs throughout the movie which are not just cringe inducing but repetitive.

My edit Planetfall cuts 37 and a half minutes reducing the run time from 1:40 to 1:02:27 and jumps straight into the action leaving a tighter paced less sentimental film about a boy having to brave the savage wilderness to to save his life and the life of his father.

A comprehensive cut list and samples will follow tomorrow. I have a 720p workprint for anyone who'd like to offer thoughts and feedback on this project so far.
 

Malthus

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Cut list
  • Added Netflix style fanedit logo
  • Added Malthus Fanedits Card
  • Removed entire first act up to the meteor shower (-15mins)
  • Added a title card post crash
  • Truncated waking up sequence to remove stilted editing
  • Removed Spider sequence
  • Removed line "I like it but I think it's bad"
  • Removed Flashback during injection
  • Removed Cake flashback
  • Removed first ghosting monologue
  • Removed almost all of the raft dream sequence. Keeping only the wake up! jump scare
  • Removed Jaden's cave mathematics montage
  • Removed the mountain top fight 
  • Removed slow-mo shots in medical bay
  • Removed reference to "mom's work" as it referred to an removed scene and it was a forced joke
 

Malthus

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Here's the first sample.
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Please note all the samples will be uploaded as 720p and do not represent the final edit's quality.
 

Last Impressions

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Having not seen this since its release it was always something i was intrigued to watch again in order to maybe edit. A project in how to turn a stinker of a movie into something at least bearable to watch...with this and your Valerian edit you seem to be well ahead of the game  :)
 

Malthus

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After giving it some thought I decided to make an additional cut and remove the final fight with the alien beast.

I had already truncated the scene to improve its pacing but because I had removed various bits of exposition from the film there really was no justification as to why Jaden Smith would suddenly be able to best the beast. So it's gone; all 4 minutes of it.

Full disclosure Less than one minute of this time is the actual fight the rest is slow-mo shots intercut with flash backs and more exposition.

Current Runtime: 1:03:37
Time cut: 37 minutes.
 

Malthus

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Here is an example of one of he more complicated edits in this project. The original sequence is overlong and heavy on exposition given the simplistic nature of the problem at hand. For context Will smith is not able to communicate with Jaden Smith at this point so all the dialogue in the scene is spoken to no one directly and I found the majority of what was said either corny or unnecessary. I employed a variety of methods to truncate this scene including repurposing and reversing piece of footage, slowing down another shot, muting dialogue and extensive use of crossfades.
[align=center]
 

boazz750

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Some thoughts and feedback on this project so far:
First and foremost - I must commend you for this valiant attempt at fanfixing this travesty of a film. Your edit is insurmountably superior compared to the theatrical cut. The pacing is much better, much of the kitsch is gone, and your chosen narrative is comprehensible and well defined. I particularly approve of the removal of any mentioning of ghosting (and especially the terrible monologue about fear not being real) - it always felt to me like an excuse for bad acting.

That being said, I have three major notes regarding your edit (timing refers to TC and not your edit, for consistency):
(1) Opening scene - landing the audience straight in the action is great, but it comes at a price. The exposition on the TC adds some depth and meaning to the movie, and without it we have to rely on Jaden's terrible acting. Zoë Kravitz is a much better actress, so I vote to bring her back as much as possible (without referencing ghosting). Moreover, without the exposition it is difficult to understand Jaden's flashbacks (was that female character his mother? If so - why would his dad send a message to his wife?). Another reason to restore some of the flashbacks is that the conversation about the whales corresponds with the closing shot of the whales. This way, your edit can pack a strong punch at its end by leaving the audience wondering whether the planet was actually Earth all along.
I suggest to start the film with Zoë's death, as the film is full of references to it - explicit and implicit. An ideal opening scene would be a reconstructing of the death scene from throughout the TC (13:06-15:20, 29:36-29:39, 56:09-56:23, 1:25:46-1:26:13). Following the death scene, show the Ursa loaded into the ship, to imply it is the same one. Then a fade to black, show the title, and skip to the asteroid shower. This way, the presence of the Ursa on the ship will carry more significance, as well as explain some of the weird dynamic between Will and Jaden. However, it would mean that Jaden will have to kill the Ursa at the end. It would give closure to him and his dad, and makes some sense given his fighting skills at the bird's nest.

(2) Earth - One of the weak points of the film is the implication that the planet is actually Earth. Starting with choosing that planet as a landing site (you're 86,000 km from Earth and need sensors to see it? Really? Also - if it is so dangerous, why not land on the moon, or Mars?), through plot-insignificant comments about the gravity (does it affect Jaden's path or behaviour? Nope), to completely idiotic moments ("everything on this planet has evolved to kill humans" - really?). This would necessitate some careful trimming, but I believe it will strengthen your edit.

(3) WTF moments - You've trimmed a lot, but there's still some more. In addition to the trims mentioned above, I would trim the 'saved by the bird' segment (1:10:20-1:11:07, and also 1:11:34-1:12:41). I wish there were a way to trim Will's salute (it lacks meaning without the earlier scene in the exposition, and is also very tacky), but I think it is impossible to trim it without trimming their hug. There are a few gentle trims necessary near the end of your edit, especially when Jaden and Will reunite: Jaden says 'dad?' but doesn't continue, and then there's a long shot of him over his father, which serves no real purpose.

Good luck,
Bo
 

Malthus

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Hi @"boazz750", thank you for taking the time to watch the preview and for giving me your feedback. I'll address your three suggestions in a moment but I have to say I'm really glad you feel the edit has produced an insurmountably superior product. That's some high praise.

1. Expand on the flashbacks

Personally I like ambiguity in film over more prosaic storytelling. I didn't feel the need to explain the relationship between Kitai and 'the girl from the flashback' as it isn't the relationship that is significant but the fact that Kitai feels his father thinks he is a coward because of their inaction when that person died. I feel starting the film with the flashbacks arranged chronologically would kill the pacing and weaken the opening but I'll have a crack at creating a new flashback from the footage and try slotting it in during the post crash black out. Reinstating the final fight is, however, a hard pass from me. The whole thing revolves around Kitai learning how to Ghost and is intercut with slow mo sections, exposition from Will Smith and a flashback. I have already tried to truncate it but the varying lighting, changing score and the choreography made all my attempts feel unnaturally choppy and ultimately unsatisfactory. I disagree that the nest scene would justify Kitai defeating the ursa as he barely gets out of the best unscaved and I certainly don't plan on bringing any mention of ghosting back into the edit to justify his winning the fight.

2. I'll need to rewatch the whole edit again but I believe it's only mentioned that it is earth once, I experimented with removing that line and it was simple enough but I'm not convinced it would benefit the edit since, for me at least, the idea that earth is now inhospitable is a pretty neat idea. I don't see how it being an unnamed planet significantly alters anything about the film and it would remove a small facet of the plot I like. I definitely don't have an issue with the warning beacons and pilot of the ship makes it clear landing/traveling somewhere else is not an option due to the damage it has sustained.

3. I took a look and I could easily remove the bird sequence but to make it work I would have to trim a whole 4 minutes. It would also mean I would have to transition less elegantly from the drone shots of the river to Kitai stumbling across the wreckage. I agree the sequence is somewhat strange but Kitai did defend the bird's nest so there is a logic to it... almost. I'll see what others say before I make a decision on whether or not to remove it. As for the ending I just rewatched it and I have to disagree about the long shot serving no purpose. From a narrative perspective its the a tender moment showing finally they are both safe and have strengthened their bond. From a technical perspective removing it would present problems as the score is building to a crescendo. I'll play around with the dad line although I don't feel is sounded like a question given Jaden Smith's subpar delivery. To me it sounds like he's relieved to be reunited with his father. I also don't mind the salute, it might be a little cheesy but kitai's father is a military man so him saluting his son is an acknowledgement of the bravery he has displayed in saving them both.

Again thanks for your thoughts on this, they've definitely given me things to think on.

edit: I took a second pass at removing the bird sequence and the transition flows a lot better now. I'll knock up a sample of the proposed new sequence with the current sequence for comparison later on.
 

orchidal

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first off, the editing here is superb and draws out all of a reletively weak film's strengths and potentials. Malthus presents a very lean and smooth sci-fi survival/thriller. it's unfortunately the films inherent content that never manages to win me over. Riddick and Enemy Mine hit the spot for the genre, personally. The "survival" on display in Planetfall just never feels genuine, inventive, or brutal enough to elicit any visceral enjoyment I might have had with a film such as this. A technical success, regardless, given that the editing itself is well realized.
 

Malthus

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I experimented with combining the flashback footage together but I couldn't find a satisfactory combination. Also, after giving it some thought, I've decided to keep the 'bird rescue' scene as removing it required removing 4 minutes of footage. This meant removing a scene of peril which, when absent, made the whole mission a little too easy. This edit is all but complete. I'll aim to add it to the database on Friday.
 

dart.maul

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Great edit. I watched it with someone that never watched the movie - and it was a nice experience. The person who watched it with me, felt that the part where the monster is defeated was lacking.

Thanks for your hard work :)
 

Malthus

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dart.maul said:
Great edit. I watched it with someone that never watched the movie - and it was a nice experience. The person who watched it with me, felt that the part where the monster is defeated was lacking.

Thanks for your hard work :)

Thanks Maul, I'm glad you enjoyed it. To be fair I found the original ending with all its Ghosting silliness far more disappointing. I did attempt to salvage the final fight but it was intercut with so much slow-mo and flashback footage that editting it produced a very choppy experience. Plus, given the way Jaden Smith's character Kai struggles throughout the edit, him suddenly besting a huge monster without the explanation of Ghosting required too much of a suspension of disbelief for my taste. I felt it was better to simply have him escape the beast instead.
 

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Malthus said:
dart.maul said:
Great edit. I watched it with someone that never watched the movie - and it was a nice experience. The person who watched it with me, felt that the part where the monster is defeated was lacking.

Thanks for your hard work :)

Thanks Maul, I'm glad you enjoyed it. To be fair I found the original ending with all its Ghosting silliness far more disappointing. I did attempt to salvage the final fight but it was intercut with so much slow-mo and flashback footage that editting it produced a very choppy experience. Plus, given the way Jaden Smith's character Kai struggles throughout the edit, him suddenly besting a huge monster without the explanation of Ghosting required too much of a suspension of disbelief for my taste. I felt it was better to simply have him escape the beast instead.

Yeah I rewatched the original ending. And your version is much better. I don't think you could have done more with the footage at hand!
 
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