Director: M. Night Shyamalan
Writer: M. Night Shyamalan/Michael Dante DiMartino/Bryan Konietzko
Producers: M. Night Shyamalan/Frank Marshall/Kathleen Kennedy/Sam Mercer
Starring: Noah Ringer/Dev Patel/Nicola Peltz/Jackson Rathbone/Shaun Toub
BBFC Certification: PG
Duration: 103 minutes
The Last Airbender is an adaptation of a very popular Nickelodeon cartoon called Avatar: The Last Airbender. The movie is about a young teenage boy called Aang who learns he will become the next Avatar and flees because he’s scared of the sacrifices and the responsibilities that he would have. After freezing himself in an iceberg for a hundred years, two siblings namely Katara and Sokka unfreeze him and teaches him how to bend and control the four elements: wind, water, earth and fire so he can stop the Fire Nation from ruling the Wind, Water and Earth nations. However, he is being chased by Zuko, the Prince of Fire, who needs to capture Aang so he can rule the world. I must admit that I did have a little bit of hope for The Last Airbender as I saw a trailer for it before James Cameron’s Avatar in the cinema but it’s another case of ‘the trailer is better than the movie’. The Last Airbender is, without a doubt, one of the worst movies 2010 has had to offer so far.
Let’s start with the main problem; the story. It doesn’t aspire to anything since it just uses the same old formula of the good must outdo the evil otherwise the evil will take over the world. Not that I don’t mind that formula but I do mind the way it was done. Also, the story becomes confusing and ridiculous as the movie goes on with flashbacks, long-winded explanations and laughable dialogue. Some of the scenes in the movie were very cliché and uninspiring such as Aang using his Avatar State because he feels highly emotional and Katara talking him round through teamwork and doing it together. There’s a lot of scenes like that in the movie and they never seem genuine or realistic. Another part of the story that didn’t aspire to anything was Zuko’s bid to catch Aang and destroy him so the Fire World will overrule the other nations. It felt like it was done before a million times and, despite this being a kid’s movie, it could have been done a lot better.
The worst and definitely the most embarrassing thing about the movie was the acting as there was no balance as far as the actors were concerned. They either went overboard or were over-the-top or they just looked bored and fed up, there was no in between. The worst person for this case was Jackson Rathbone who played Sokka. In some scenes such as the training scenes and the fight scenes, he didn’t look remotely bothered but in other scenes, he became quickly annoying. Nicola Peltz, who played Katara, also had this same problem. However, the biggest disappointment in the cast for me was Slumdog Millionaire’s Dev Patel, who played Zuko. I was expecting something good to come from this movie but alas, there was nothing. Dev Patel’s portrayal of Zuko was doing nothing but shouting aggressively which, funnily enough, is the first thing he does in the movie. Noah Ringer, who plays Aang, wasn’t good however he was the best out of the cast. Some parts were awful such as the scenes that were meant to be a little emotional but he did bring at least a tiny flutter of life into this dull movie.
Another problem with The Last Airbender was the dialogue and the characterisation. It was lacking in emotion and personality and was very laughable, some of the things that were being said were either cheesy, jokey or just plain uninteresting. It’s one hour and forty minutes (a very long one hour and forty minutes…) of nothing that is important. The characters had no personality and lacked in depth in almost every scene, you just couldn’t care for them at all. M. Night Shyamalan has directed something awful and something that never should have gotten the green light in the first place.
Amidst of all this darkness and negativity however, is a little bit of light in form of CGI, which I couldn’t really fault. There were some very good scenes which involved mostly CGI and there’s no denying that they were awful, however it felt like the movie was just focused on the CGI and the last-minute 3D decisions and not enough focus on the droll story and the no-dimensional characters. This had the potential to be something good and instead becomes something boring and something that could only appear in my worst nightmares. I fear Hollywood really is going down the pan if this is the kind of stuff that’s in store for us in the future. This could have worked if it stuck to the television series and if it was an animation but alas, there is a need to either remake or adapt anything and not actually come up with anything fresh and when that happens, dire movies like this are made. I really wanted to like this but after one hour and forty five minutes of my life wasted, I just can’t forgive Shyamalan for taking that much of my life away, the time could have been invested in watching a more entertaining or important movie. This may be the first of a trilogy from the Airbender movies but M. Night Shyamalan really should make it the last.
Reviewed by Dazz Camponi