The Earth is a pretty bleak place for humans in the new science fiction movie, "After Earth."
Set 1,000 years in the future, "After Earth" depicts a future in which humanity is forced to abandon Earth in search of a new home. The remnants of the human race travel to and resettle on Nova Prime — a fictional planet located light-years away from Earth.
Although the film makers do take plenty of liberties with the science of the movie, the plot is more possible than ever before, Gary Whitta one of the film's screenwriters says. [Photos: Sci-Fi Film 'After Earth' Envisions Strange Future]
"There are increasingly alarming reports in the news where we're getting closer and closer to this tipping point," Whitta told SPACE.com. "It seems more and more real … Apocalyptic fantasies like this that would have seemed very, very extreme and unbelieveable even 20 years ago are starting to seem worryingly plausible now."
In "After Earth," the Earth starts to transform itself into a place where humanity can no longer live. The planet basically becomes toxic to mankind, Whitta said. The Earth protects itself by removing humanity from the equation, Whitta added.
The screenwriter's solution for the issues humanity faces on Earth in the film hinge upon becoming a two planet species by traveling to Nova Prime. It's possible that in the in the distant future, that science fiction could become a reality, Whitta added.
"I certainly think that in the long term there's going to have to be some sort of colonial future for humanity," Whitta said.
Years before the beginning of the movie — which focuses on Will Smith and Jaden Smith as a father and son who crash-landed back on Earth — humanity built "generation ships" that delivered the descendants of the original space-traveling earthlings to Nova Prime.
"It's set a little bit in the future so that we are at a point in our technological evolution where we can leave, we don't have to stay here and die and so we construct these arks and we go off into space to try someplace else to live," Whitta said.
While Will Smith — who stars in the movie with his son Jaden Smith — developed the general idea for the film, Whitta was called in to help him bring it to life. The screenwriter added a science fiction element to the movie that was missing from Smith's basic idea.
Although it might seem like a depressing fantasy, Whitta thinks that people are drawn to these kinds of apocalyptic movies for a reason.
"It's just kind of a strangely masochistic part of human nature where we seem to enjoy fantasizing about our own destruction," Whitta said.
"After Earth" is set for release in the United States on May 31.
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- Gary Whitta
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