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4 reviews, 62 user ratings

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Last Airbender, The
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by brianorndorf

"Strike three"
2 stars

After the venomous reaction to his 2008 horror picture, “The Happening,” writer/director M. Night Shyamalan retreated to the comfort of a big-budget special effects extravaganza, picking an adaptation of the cult animated series “Avatar: The Last Airbender” as a way to increase his box office chances while fostering his idiosyncratic filmmaking vision. Instead of blockbuster glory, “The Last Airbender” (it seems the “Avatar” part of the title was already spoken for) manages to cripple the filmmaker further; it’s a joyless, stilted adventure picture, petrified by Shyamalan’s glacial touch and his odd refusal to simply kick back and enjoy the inherent spectacle of the source material.

With the world in chaos, hope for a great “Avatar” to emerge and calm warring nations has been lost, following a century of inactivity allowing the powerful Fire Nation to rise up and terrorize the land. As members of the Southern Water Tribe, Katara (Nicola Peltz) and Sokka (Jackson Rathbone, “The Twilight Saga”) have discovered young Aang (Noah Ringer) trapped in ice, quickly freeing him and soon befriending the bewildered young monk. Discovering he is indeed the last Avatar, Aang begins to test his “bending” powers, learning of his purpose to unite the elemental forces of the planet, while preparing for war against the Fire Nation, led by Admiral Zhao (Aasif Mandvi), and a determined threat in the form of disgraced Prince Zuko (Dev Patel, “Slumdog Millionaire”), who needs Aang to repair his reputation.

With “Lady in the Water” and “The Happening,” Shyamalan demonstrated a disturbing divide between the miracles he worked to execute as an A-list filmmaker and the theatrics audiences were expecting (or perhaps deserved). Shyamalan’s limitations as a director were starting to show, no longer hidden behind his once youthful breath of ego. The magic man suddenly lost his silver screen powers, churning out a few winded duds. Not just subpar movies, but features of shocking clumsiness -- Shyamalan couldn’t connect the dots in the same manner that thrilled audiences with “The Sixth Sense” and “Unbreakable.” The man appeared to be out of creative gas.

“The Last Airbender” is an extended confirmation of his artistic void, with Shyamalan taking material clearly swarmed with appeal and strangling it with his customary dramatic distance and horrific eye for casting. The film is a remarkable bore; a shocking realization when one considers the tale contains flying monsters, feats of furious “bending” battles, and an epic story of good vs. evil in a world of elemental stimulation. The very powers of earth, fire, water, and air fuel these spiritual characters, and Shyamalan never brings it to life. Instead, the picture drags along the ground like a fresh corpse, treating its own myth as homework and the participants as burdens, while feeling around a fantastically wasted world of weathered environments and ornate set design.

When Aang contorts into airbending mode, the director hits a few stirring notes of combat, attempting to build the young hero’s acts of defense into a few neato one-take camera moves, drinking in the blustery chaos with some showoff cinematography that recalls the Shyamalan of old. However, the action is fleeting, as the screenplay is settled firmly in exposition mode, with “Last Airbender” acting more as a prequel, setting up Aang as the conflicted savior of the frustratingly ill-defined universe.

Unfortunately, the acting can’t save the day, with an entire ensemble tripped up by Shyamalan’s swollen dialogue and rigid instruction. Peltz, Rathbone, and Patel deliver crude performances of confusing intensity, torpedoing the film with extended monologues and broad reactions that ask for more than they can possibly give. As for the boy wonder, Ringer retains a convincing physicality with his spastic airbending moves (the whole cast receives a thorough workout here), but his performance is shockingly amateurish, killing the severity of the conflict.

More tell than show, “Last Airbender” might be better off in the company of die-hard fans, who could pull highlights out of this feature without the burden of initiation. To Shyamalan’s credit, the picture isn’t confusing to newcomers (though some of the spirit-world dragon material is a bit sketchy), just disturbingly dull, unable to get a satisfying sprint going. To make matters worse, the film’s been handed a lousy, last-minute 3-D conversion that mutes the vibrant colors and darkens the critical details, with moviegoers wasting those unethical extra entry bucks on an inferior visual experience.

M. Night Shyamalan was offered a cartoon universe of staggering potential with “The Last Airbender,” but his storytelling indifference claws away all the excitement. The kicker is the ending, which boldly sets up a sequel that establishes a more turbulent road ahead for Aang and the gang. All well and good, but who wants to see a sequel when the filmmaker can’t even get the first one right?

link directly to this review at http://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=19249&reviewer=404
originally posted: 07/02/10 12:46:23
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User Comments

5/28/16 Ken Shyamalan is a gigantic fuck-up! 1 stars
1/09/15 michael LOL only retarded people gave this crap 5 stars 1 stars
7/31/14 haydenk loves the D I LOVE THIS MOVIE SO MUCH OMGOMGOMG <3<3<3 5 stars
2/20/14 Justin R. Don't bother seeing this dreck. 1 stars
10/18/11 Magic A terrible script, filled with the most laughable dialogue. Best comedy of the year. 1 stars
8/15/11 chris Makes The Happening look like high art, bad acting embarrsing scenes and special effects 1 stars
8/08/11 WENDY I actually turned this off and never finished it 1 stars
4/18/11 aj This was honesly the worst movie ive ever seen 1 stars
10/23/10 Rob Really a talking dragon! WTF!!!! What happened to Avatar Roku 1 stars
10/11/10 nik i couldn't believe that they screwed up so badly. RIP The Last Airbender 1 stars
10/03/10 Tino your daughter is a genius, be proud. and your review was ncie too 1 stars
8/25/10 The Last Buddahead I'm happy that I only paid $2 dollars for a pirate DVD 1 stars
8/24/10 Davey Shyamalan sucks these days. I'm not really a fan of the TV show either though. 1 stars
8/19/10 MikeAT Where to begin. Well I will not rant on the race issue when there is so much else wrong wit 1 stars
8/15/10 Terry GAME OVER YEAH!!!! 1 stars
8/13/10 Raquel As a fan of the animated series, I completely agree... They did mess up everything! 5 stars
8/09/10 Rob This review nails in on the head. I couldn't have said it better. 1 stars
8/08/10 Matthew Raymond Ember Island Players takes on a whole new meaning after seeing this movie. 1 stars
8/04/10 Kain I have never enjoyed an M. Night Shyamalan film, and The Last Airbender is no exception. 1 stars
8/01/10 Total Crap Does he take direction tips from Uwe Boll on how to utterly ruin a series? 1 stars
7/28/10 James i hope a better film maker redoes this catastophic failure, the nic series is phenominal 1 stars
7/25/10 lexi Horriable but atleast he tried 1 stars
7/23/10 Seth Airbender is the Hurricane Katrina of cinema which makes Shamashit the equivalent of FEMA 1 stars
7/21/10 Al I might be showing my agebut, Howard The Duck was a better adaptation(from Marvel comics). 1 stars
7/21/10 wil epic fail. the fire nation aren't scary at all. everything is out of the picture. 1 stars
7/20/10 luis i feel completely let down by everything about the movie. 1 stars
7/20/10 Samuel It was AWESOME! Like The Happening meets Crank, M. Nite is a GOD!! HE SHOULD DIRECT LOTR!!! 5 stars
7/20/10 Dre A horrible affront to the best American cartoon series made. M. Night is a talentless hack. 1 stars
7/19/10 gideon wow.....the movie was terrible...how the cast the avatar state made him look like a ragdoll 1 stars
7/19/10 garrett for shame shyamalan... 1 stars
7/18/10 Antman They took a really great series and discarded everything likable about it. 1 stars
7/18/10 Spencer Bad actors who can't pronounce names, a director who destroys childhood dreams, thanks dick 1 stars
7/17/10 kin torture. TORTURE 1 stars
7/17/10 Faylum Looking for donations, building a prison for M.Night Shyamalan in Mordor. 5 stars
7/16/10 Newbunkle It sucked ass, but I thought Dev Patel did a reasonable job. 1 stars
7/16/10 John Updick i took a dump and it came out better looking than this piece of crap 1 stars
7/16/10 JaMarr And why did he cast Master Pakku as some fat out of shape guy??!! 1 stars
7/16/10 JaMarr I liked the McDonalds commercial WAAAY better they should replace M.Nite with dat director 1 stars
7/16/10 Abby Argh! All the firebenders look like giant oompah loompahs! .....poor zuko 1 stars
7/16/10 Ziemz Epic Fail! 1 stars
7/16/10 Trae Well, everyone else (besides that one guy who likes it? Wtf is up with that?) is right. 1 stars
7/16/10 cranier actually it should be a half star rating but there isn't one so... 1 stars
7/15/10 titan the ember island players were better 1 stars
7/15/10 Bryceh I'm a huge fan of the show, and i was dissapointed after exactly 24 seconds. 1 stars
7/15/10 Lou Booooooooo 1 stars
7/15/10 Nick Vandekieft Proven, 10 year olds had a bigger clue of whats going on than M. Night DickHead did. 1 stars
7/15/10 christoban Dialog was so painful. Constantly narration was unbelievably lazy filmmaking. 1 stars
7/14/10 Brian Almost a completely different story.. except that it could not develop a story of its own. 1 stars
7/11/10 Liz "...Northern Air Tribe..."? Wtf! Its "Water" not "Air"! Btw, movie sucked. DItto, Ken. 1 stars
7/11/10 Larry Worst movie I've seen in years 1 stars
7/11/10 Rand Aweful is too tame a word to describe it. 1 stars
7/06/10 Brad It was a great movie 5 stars
7/04/10 Doug Honestly one of the worst movies I've ever seen 1 stars
7/03/10 puddleduck Bad on so many levels, I demanded a refund after 15 minutes of sheer torture. 1 stars
7/03/10 Darkstar Worst movie I've seen this year. Sucks, Sucks, Sucks. 1 stars
7/03/10 Ken First: racist casting, 2nd: slumping director, 3rd: movie has flop written all over it. 1 stars
7/01/10 Craig Bastardized the show. Didn't even pronounce names right. Night should kill himself 1 stars
7/01/10 Ming 3D is useless. You don't need it..Worst film of the year 1 stars
7/01/10 D³ck Peter Johnson I'm totally nude! I've gotta boner!! ...and I've gotta take a sh³t!!! 1 stars
7/01/10 g bad bad bad bad bad bad, etc 1 stars
7/01/10 Alex So painful to watch. 1 stars
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  01-Jul-2010 (PG)
  DVD: 16-Nov-2010


  DVD: 16-Nov-2010

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