The Last Airbender(2010)

How do I start off describing The Last Airbender? Perhaps I should start with “tragic”? Yeah I think that works. The tragedy of The Last Airbender stars Dev Patel, Noah Ringer, and Jackson Rathbone, among others. M. Night Shymalan writes and directs this, making it his first action/adventure/fantasy/summer blockbuster.The story starts off in a world where elements can be manipulated in ways to make life easier. The few who can do this are known as benders, and can only bend one element at a time. There is one bender  every few years who can “bend” all four elements, and is reincarnated in a different element nation each time. This bender is known as the “Avatar”, and is supposed to maintain peace in the world with this advantage. The fire nation strikes out against the others in order to show their dominance, and they are thought to have killed the new avatar in which case all hope is lost.  But two siblings from a waterbending tribe find him frozen in the ice, and he explains he was caught in the middle of the storm. Soon they realize that he’s been gone for nearly a hundred years, and now the fire nation knows he’s here.So why “tragic” you might ask? Well in a way The Last Airbender is like a badly written comedy flick:All the best parts are in the trailer, and the characters are completely unlikeable. It’s strange, the plot isn’t the bad, it mostly pulls well from the source material, it’s just written badly. If you don’t already know, the movie is based off the TV show of a similar name(Avatar:The last Airbender). The first half of the film deals with so much so fast, it’s no wonder why the screen time was so short. In fact, in the first half of the film there’s no clever dialogue, or anything short of the characters narrating what they’re doing, or explaining what we already know. And there’s a constant narration that seems mostly unnecessary and lazy. M. Night tried to justify the “correct” pronunciations of the names, and changing certain elements of the show to fit screen-writing rules, but where’s his justification of the characters, and terrible pacing? That’s one of the worst things, is that M. Night used to be amazing at pacing,  a movie this length by him never felt so short(Unbreakable).The score byJames Newton Howard is well done, but it goes to waste. All the action in the film is shown in the trailers, and for the most part it all seems like it happens too slowly. There’s a lot of building up with arms flailing and kicking, but to little effect.  The movie seems at times as if was shot by film school students, and at other times it’s not as bad. What’s sad, is that even if the script was well-written, M.Night is apparently not an “actor’s director”, so the performances would be lacking anyway. Even Dev Patel, who was cast based on an amazing performance in “Slumdog Millionaire”, is simply just yelling throughout the film. The special effects aren’t very consistent, looking rather good in some scenes, and looking awful in others. The major outcome from the film is a sense of wanting more from every bit of it. Wanting better acting, better writing/directing, wanting more time devoted to characters, for some even wanting more from their favorites in the series.For fans of the series, the film is immensely disappointing. Appa is no longer a character, and simply a means of transportation. Momo comes about and simply does a lot of flying around. The pronunciations are irritating, and all the humor and quirkiness of the characters are pulled away completely. Aang especially just sulks, and claims to like fun, but never shows it.Overall the film is bad. Tragically bad.  There are a few rare moments that I thought were nice, but they’re so muddled by the rest of the film that they’re forgotten. The best parts of the film are probably the set design, and the musical score. Aside from that, avoid this film and the headache that comes with it.

4 thoughts on “The Last Airbender(2010)”

  1. It has great cgi I will give it that and launched on a weekend that number 1 if you don’t want to go see that movie oh they call twlight and plus all the little kids will enjoy it for whats it worth. He mainly made the movie not for the show people for the casual viewer who in fact never seen it before.

  2. Well, the CGI was fantastic for some scenes, but there were some where it looked awful. For instance, the scene where Zuko was completely frozen, just looked stupid. I know that the flick was made to draw in non-fans of the show, but it just wasn’t well done. I reviewed based on both sides, I’m not a biased person unless it’s something emotionally personal, and the show was never THAT big to me. It was just really rushed, with stupid dialogue, slow action, wasted characters… it was a bad film in general. I’d say the only good word I’ve heard about it was from someone who sat in front of me, and had already seen the show and on that count forgave the lack of story. Even the kids were bored, and shocked that it was so short. One of the kids in my showing said “That was it? that was so fast!”

  3. Nice review, I applaud you for your ability to really write with enough enthusiasm to point EVERYTHING out and make me interested in what I am reading. I’ll probably just watch this one online.

  4. This movie is just a complete mess to be honest, it has no idea what it wants to be. It does now know if it should be for the hardcore fans because they really do not tell you anything about these characters. However, even hardcore fans will be upset with the film’s lack of loyalty to the cartoon series.

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