Review: The Last Airbender
PLOT: Aang (Noah Ringer), is the last in a long line of Avatars, born with the ability to control the four elements: earth, air, water, and fire. This makes him the target the evil Fire Nation, specifically, the exiled prince (Dev Patel) who needs to capture the Airbender in order to return home. Aang is aided by two young water nation warriors, Katara (Nicola Peltz), and her older brother Sokka (Jackson Rathbone).
REVIEW: After watching THE HAPPENING, people more or less figured M. Night Shyamalan had hit rock bottom as a filmmaker. Ladies and gents, you ain't see nuthin' yet!
THE LAST AIRBENDER is an astonishingly bad movie. After awarding TWILIGHT: ECLIPSE a 2/10, a figured I had finally seen the worst film of the summer. Instead, I hadn't even seen the worst film of the week, as THE LAST AIRBENDER manages the extraordinary task of making ECLIPSE and JONAH HEX look good.
Oh ye God, what was Shmalayan thinking? Everything about this film is so mind-bogglingly stupid, I barely know where to begin! The most obvious flaw has to be our three Lilly white protagonists.
Now, I've never read the manga, or seen any of the anime this is based on (truth be told, I'm not an anime fan), but I imagine the three child protagonists were, you know, Asian. I don't know why they were made white, as there's a whole bunch of talented Chinese or Indian actors that could have played the roles. In fact, THE LAST AIRBENDER might have been a good movie if it had just been made in Asia, specifically South Korea, which actually does these type of sprawling fantasies quite well. Having these three white kids run around with names like Aang, and Chokka makes this seem like another DRAGONBALL: EVOLUTION, but at least that had Chow Yun-Fat. Here we have, ummm, Jackson Rathbone?
At the very least, Shmalayan could have chosen capable actors, as the performances in this film make the awful acting I complained about yesterday after watching ECLIPSE, look award worthy.
Rathbone, who plays Sokka, was actually in ECLIPSE, and I thought in that film he actually wasn't half bad. Here, he spends the whole film looking either constipated, or terrified of being on camera. There's literally hundreds of other actors his age that could have played the role. And just wait until you get a load of his love interest, who looks like she's about thirteen, which makes their chastely romantic scenes very cringe worthy.
The actress playing his sister, young Nicola Peltz isn't much better. Now, a lot of you will think I'm a jerk by picking on Peltz, as she's just a kid, and I'm sure Shmalayan deserves some of the blame for not getting better line readings or coaching her better. As for THE LAST AIRBENDER himself, young Noah Ringer is no Haley Joel Osment. If I were watching Ringer in a junior high play, I'd think he was great but as the lead of a rumoured $150 million film...wow, is this kid bad or what?
One way Shmalayan could have fixed AIRBENDER would have been to increase the age of his lead characters. Now, I know this would get fans of the anime up in arms, but let's face it, there really aren't that many great child actors out there. If he had made the AIRBENDER about 15, and the siblings in their early twenties, he could have made this a whole lot better. Only Dev Petel, of SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE manages to avoid embarrassing himself, and even he's badly miscast. He's too boyish to plays this bad-ass prince. If they had cast someone like Bollywood star Hrithik Roshan in the role, they might really have had something.
Another of LAST AIRBENDER's many problems is the cheap-ass 3D, which is another CLASH OF THE TITANS style, upconverted rush job. The most impressive 3D is featured in the opening studio logo, and the rest of the film is barely three dimensional. The 3D gimmick on this film is just a way to squeeze a few bucks out of a film that I can't imagine will end up as anything other than a financial disaster.
I'm tempted to say Shmalayan's done for as a director, but despite making yet another atrocious film, I still think the guy has talent. It's been a decade since his last good film (UNBREAKABLE), but I still think he has a comeback in him. Alas, THE LAST AIRBENDER ain't it. In a summer full of bad films, THE LAST AIRBENDER pushes aside ECLIPSE and JONAH HEX to become the worst film yet. Hopefully PREDATORS and INCEPTION will save us from making this quite possibly worst summer of films ever.
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