Tuesday, 9 August 2011

The Last Airbender (2010)

Time to put M Night's career to bed

In the world, there are four different nations, Water, Fire, Earth and Air. Each nation contains benders (don't laugh), each who can only control the element of their nation. The Avatar is the only person who can control all four elements, but when he appears to have died, the Fire Nation launch an attack for (what else?) global domination. 100 years later, waterbender Katara, and her brother Sokka, free a 12 year old boy, named Aang, and his huge flying CGI bison from their frozen imprisonment. The boy is the Avatar, and he begins a journey to bring peace back to the four nations. The film is based on a Nickelodeon animated series.


All you've heard about this film is correct, The Last Airbender may be the worst film M Night Shyamalan has ever produced. What, it was produced, directed AND written by M Night Shyamalan? Well that explains why it sucked so much. Apparently, M Night wasn't interested in Avatar: The Last Airbender until his daughter dressed up as Katara for Halloween. At least we all know who to blame for this mess of a film. Why exactly does is this movie awful? If you'll read on...

The dialogue is terrible. I'm not going to talk about whether the dialogue is cheesy or cliched, what I am going to moan about is how the characters manage to give us a number of dialogue infodumps all throughout the film, and how they manage to REPEAT those infodumps at various amounts throughout. It also doesn't help that the actors give bad deliveries of their lines, a few even pausing throughout saying their lines, reminding you of William Shatners rendition of Rocket Man.

The plot is very disjointed. You have Katara struggling to use her waterbending abilities in one scene, whilst being able to wield them like a pro in the next scene. One the subject of Katara, I feel I have to point out how her actress goes through most of the film with a worried look on her face (probably wondering what of her acting career after this film). But it just leaves you wondering whether the she can actually do any other emotions.
With a film like this, you'd expect the fights to at least be eye dazzling, fun spectacles. Unfortunately, the fights end up being nothing more than a spectacle for special effects and for the characters to show off their coreographed moves rather than actually hit anything. During one battle, it looks like a line of backup dancers are attacking. There was one scene which made me laugh, where Aang is warned "don't even try to escape", leaving even the most unfocused of people to correctly guess what will occur next.

The Last Airbender Publicity Still
He went from Slumdog Millionaire to this?

There are quite an amount of CGI animals in this film, with two journeying with Aang, and they stand out very obviously. It's also glaringly obvious that the background is all greenscreen, and that hinders the movie and it's attempt to make us buy into this journey over villiages and tribes, but to be honest, what doesn't hinder this movie? The plot also has to move at a fast pace, because M Night has to condense over 20 episodes of the Nickelodeon show into 103 minutes, leaving us with Aang captured before 10 minutes has passed, (and escaping not long after) and the trio said to have been in a northern water tribe for weeks, despite the viewers having not seen them there for 10 minutes. The film tries to go dark in some places, but they just don't work at all, as this is ultimatley a film for the kiddies, making these moments feel just tacked on and forced.

In a number of the films battle scenes, they really overuse slow motion a lot, and I mean A LOT. But the way it is used is so mundane, at least when Zack Snyder overdoes it, he uses it on interesting parts of the fights. And in that lies the main problem about this film, it is so BORING! There are effects, settings and battles which should make us interested, especially in how they come together, but all it does is make you wonder how much longer it will be until the end.

Dev Patel is a brilliant actor, from Skins to Slumdog Millionare, he has proven his worth as an actor and shows he can do well with what he is given. Sadly, in this film is given barely anything to work with and has to deal with the same problems all of the other cast encounter, but he does give the only above average performance. The same cannot be said for the films lead, Noah Ringer, who delivers his lines as if he is acting out his Nativity play.

The sad thing about this film is how it tries to set itself up to be a franchise, as the film opens with the title "Book One: Water" to show Aang was going to be learning how to Waterbend. If the film had anybody but M Night writing, producing and directing, then this film would have had a chance to be good enough for a franchise, as well as having people actually interested in another one or two films. As of this moment, there has been no announcement as to whether a sequel will happen or not, but we can just pray that never happens.

The Last Airbender cannot get anything right. It's only worth a watch if you want to see how far M Night has fallen since The Sixth Sense.

1 comment:

  1. Good way to start off your blog! Sounds like a real cine-turd and I may just watch it to see how bad it is. I see you have used tags. That's good, when you have 100 posts you'll see why it is nice to have tags for your readers.

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