The Last Airbender
PG, 95min., 2010
Cast: Dev Patel, Noah Ringer, Jackson Rathbone, Aasif Mandi, Nicola Peltz, and Cliff Curtis
Directed by M. Night Shyamalan
Screenplay M. Night Shyamalan based upon the Nickelodeon Animated series “Avatar: The Last Airbender”
The Last Airbender is a good looking and expensive summer movie that is brought down to miserable lows due to shoddy storytelling, hollow Nickelodeon-type acting, and the ever-annoying 3D transfer.
To describe this story would take an entire 3,000-word review involving alternative universes with eastern religious symbols and age-old rivalries. For those that know the Nickelodeon show, they probability know the backstory and all the little pieces about wind, water, fire, and earth put together, for those like myself, we are given the age old hero’s quest to finding himself story.
MORE AFTER THE JUMP…
A boy named Aang (newcomer Noah Ringer) has to master the four elements of wind, water, fire, and earth in order to stop the so-called Fire Nation lead by Lord Ozai (the always reliable actor of many film ethnicities Cliff Curtis) along with his disgraced son Zurko (Dev Patel, losing all credibility from Slumdog Millionaire) to capture and enslave the rest of their element playing world. Aang is helped along in his journey by a brother and sister (Jackson Rathbone and Nicola Peltz) to obtain these elemental powers and the rest of the movie is just a bunch of flat action sequences involving CGI battles between the two groups.
Director M. Night Shyamalan brings the certification of authenticity that he has put the nail in the coffin with being the once promising storyteller of The Sixth Sense and Unbreakable. The direction he takes by staging action scenes with very little energy, scenes of dialogue with long-winded close-ups, and acting that would even be considered bad even for the Syfy channel. It seems that Shyamalan was asleep on the job, letting an expensive set design and costume crew do all of the work for him.
This is all before the studio decided to put this movie into the ever growing and now eye-aching trend of 3D, because we all know 3D can save a movie.
Nothing’s engaging, and the climatic battles of water waves and fireballs coming at you are mediocre at best. This has given film critics more reason to shout out about the studio trappings to make money off this hack piece of children’s storytelling.
As the film industry tends to dumb down the ethnic origin story, this movie, along with last month’s epic disaster Prince of Persia, take the gentrification movie cake. They give us these hollow big-eyed deer in the headlights actors to wander around on expensive CGI sets that have no significant meaning to them. When will the studios learn to give these stories over to the right people for the part and not white wash them out.