The Last Airbender (2010) - Can't Stop the Movies
Can't Stop the Movies

The Last Airbender (2010)

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While leaving The Last Airbender, I saw a boy that was around 10 years old slowly getting out of his seat. I could tell right away that the boy was running through many emotions at once, he seemed confused, sad, and angry and was shuffling out of the theatre, zombie-like, lost in his own thoughts. As I watched this kid leave the theatre, I wish I could have taken a picture of the boy, because that would be the best critical analysis of the missed opportunity that was The Last Airbender.

While this movie is a bad film, the vitriol and hate from some of the critics was a bit much. The movie is not the slap in the face to fans as something like Batman and Robin is, and I believe Shyamalan had good intentions with the film; he just failed miserably in the execution. The best word to describe the movie would be "flat," as there seemed to be no life to anything in the film. The acting consisted of characters staring at each other as they read their lines with little to no feeling behind anything. Of course, the stilted dialogue did not help the actor's cause at all.

The dialogue seems to run around itself and take 10 seconds to state something that should have taken maybe half of that. With this script, a simple line of “I am hungry so I am going to make a snack” would turn into “My stomach is telling me I am hungry, a way to cure the hunger would be to eat something, it is not time for supper and lunch has already passed. My hunger can not last until
supper, a snack is a good way to fix the hunger. Since I am hungry and don’t want supper, I will fix a snack.”

The script also fails to convey what the hell is going on half of the time. I was a fan of the show, so I knew who the characters were, what they were trying to accomplish and how this specific world worked. I pity anyone that would go into this film not knowing this because they must have been utterly confused. Scenes just happen with out any precedent or reason and then just end without much resolution. This makes the film feel disjointed with no narrative flow through out the film.

Much like the script, the action does nothing to help the movie. Most action scenes last all of 30 seconds and then the movie is onto the next scene. There is never any buildup to the action scenes and there is never any tension. All of the action scenes consist of 2 people staring at each other, they each use their bending techniques and the good guy dodges the attack while the bad guys gets knocked over; this is repeated again and again like the movie was on autopilot.

The biggest problem with the movie was the villains, The Fire Nation were incompetent, non-threatening idiots. A good guy is only as strong as his villain; this is why The Dark Knight, Goldfinger, and Terminator are seen as great films; in them, the villain was memorable, evil and unrelenting. The Fire Nation, on the other hand, made Storm Troopers look like stone cold killers.

One of the main villains, Commander Zhao, was a very formidable foe in the TV series. Voiced by the great Jason Isaacs, he was ruthless, unafraid and came off as a big threat to the Avatar and his friends. In the movie, Zhao is played by "Daily Show" correspondent Aasif Mandvi, as a man out of his element and seemed to pose as much threat to anyone as a newly born kitten. At the beginning of the film, the Fire Nation has taken over much of the world and easily stomped over the 3 other nations (water, earth and air) on their way to conquest. If such bungling, Keystone Cop type people can take over the world with such ease, what does that say about the rest of the world?

The one positive aspect of this film was the art direction. From the very beginning, the film looks right. The costumes, props, locals and even actors looked like their counterparts from the cartoon. The world felt real, lived in and not a soundstage like many fantasy worlds fall into.

This almost makes the film worse because it shows what could have been. It is evident love and dedication went into matching up the movie’s visual to the show, it is just a shame that this passion was not evident to anything else in the movie.

The Last Airbender was bad in so many ways that I lost count while watching the film. There is no feeling behind anything in the movie and almost feels like a highlight package instead of a fully realized film. There is not one spark of warmth, humor or life to the whole picture. The actors’ stumble from scene to scene, the action is clipped to the point of being irrelevant and the dialogue is about 3 steps past stilted.

Yet, if a sequel were made with different people behind the scenes, I would probably try it out because the world is full of
possibilities to make a great fantasy action film. But I would still have one request: please pronounce the main character's name correctly, it would be really appreciated.

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The Last Airbender (2010)

This film is currently playing in theaters.

Directed by M. Night Shyamalan
Starring Noah Ringer and Dev Patel

Posted by Ryan

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