So The Last Airbender has been out for a few days now and if you are no stranger to the internet you should know this movie is getting destroyed in the ratings. Director M. Night Shyamalan has actually gone on record regarding these negative reviews saying “I don’t know what to say to that stuff.” Well I do. Perhaps it time for M.Night Shyamalan, and any remaining steadfast fans, to accept he’s a one hit wonder. Getting back to the orignial source material though, Airbender was a tremendous animated effort that ran for a few years on Nickelodeon. The story almost mirrors the cartoon which is based on the four nations, which rules the world and the members of each nation have the control of one of the four elements: fire, air, water, and earth. But, without Avatar the world seems to be unbalanced. Avatar has the ability to control the four elements and act as an intermediate between the physical world and the spirit world. When Avatar disappeared, the fire nation wants to command the remaining nations and reign terror.
Say what you want about M. Night but he knows how to assemble an action scene. I’ll admit there are one or two very minor things that this movie improved on over the show. For one, Zhao’s death scene in the film is comparably better than the way he went out in the show. When T.V producers try to tackle a comic book or animated character, I try to give them a bit of room for error, because they have limited budgets and the character is likely owned by four different companies, so there is not much you can do with the character. On a technical level, the film is pretty much perfect. The sets, costume designs, and visual effects are all commendable. That’s about as much good as I can say about this film.
Quite frankly, the story just never really takes off, which is why it stayed so flat. It had no touches in there that were M. Night magic touches, which basically means it could have been directed by some random person and I would have never known any different. As a director who prides himself on good script writing I felt the plotholes were unacceptable. For example, Aang flies off to the temple and gets himself captured. Once again we have no idea where Appa is or what happened to him. Was he captured too? Did he escape? Did he once again fall into the Fire Nation soldier’s buffalo blind spot? So many questions. After Aang escapes he manages to find his bison and his friends. Somehow. It is a shame that despite the bad reviews, Last Airbender is performing well in theaters.
There is no character development because no scene lasts more than a minute or two. Ironically, I was so ready to rip apart Jaden Smith in Karate Kid last week but ended up loving the film, yet with Airbender, I can’t remember the last time I’ve seen child acting this poor. It seems as though everyone is reading the dialogue for the first time. I’m left to wonder if Shyamalan actually watched an episode of the series or just read the Wikipedia page and went to work. All in all, avoid this film and if you were a fan of the show this is blatant disrespect to the fans. The Last Airbender is a tragedy, pure and simple. Avoid at all costs.