JT Film Review

97 – The Last Airbender (2010)

The Last Airbender REVIEW

1.5/5 stars

Director – M. Night Shyamalan

Cast – Noah Ringer, Dev Patel, Nicola Peltz, Jackson Rathbone, Shaun Toub, Aasif Mandvi, Cliff Curtis, Seychelle Gabriel

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The Last Airbender is adapted from an animated show with heavy Asian influences which aired for three seasons on Nickelodeon. Director M. Night Shyamalan wrote, produced, and directed the movie.

Shyamalan has professed to be a fan of the series. Frankly, I can’t see how anyone with even a passing interest in any TV show could create a movie which treats its material in such a dull and lifeless manner. The dialogue is awfully wooden, painfully expositional, and repetitive. The actors do the best they can, but I don’t think Laurence Olivier himself could have spiced this up or made it feel natural. Even the music, composed by James Newton Howard, is derivative and lifeless.

Despite what others say, I think the CGI was well implemented here. It was not extraordinary, but it blended well with the natural environment. The ships of the villains, the Fire Nation, were gorgeous to look at. I found myself waiting for their next appearance, hoping for one of those spinning shots, as done from a helicopter.

That, of course, is a sign that the movie is incredibly dull. The ironic thing is that the potentially most interesting parts were skipped over, replaced with dull narration. If I had to hear one more example of “…and they became great friends.” or “He then trained in the art of blablabla, becoming well versed…” I was going to leave the theatre.

The actors, though doing their best, are generally miscast, and not because of their ethnicities. Cliff Curtis, who is rapidly becoming the go-to guy for random ethnic parts, is dull as the head honcho of the Fire Nation, and Noah Ringer comes across as a chubby, whiny little brat rather than the supposed saviour of the world. The only actor I can say I enjoyed was Aasif Mandvi. He appears regularly on The Daily Show, and is mainly known as a comedian. Here he plays a general of the evil Fire Nation, and we get from him the sense of a more rounded character. Everyone else seems relegated to “Glowering Villain”, “Youthful Hero” or “Conflicted Bad Guy”. With a few more natural and rounded performances such as his we might have gotten a better movie. As long as the script was better. And the pacing. And the music. And the direction…

OVERALL

The Last Airbender is a dull, derivative, and badly paced. The acting is lazy and the fight scenes are barely adequate. The biggest sin is the screenplay however, which reeks of wooden dialogue and painful exposition. Where has the Shyamalan of The Sixth Sense and Signs gone? Will he ever return?

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TRAILER

“The Last Airbender” on other websites:

IMDB —– Rotten Tomatoes —– Wikipedia

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July 8, 2010 - Posted by | 1.5 Stars, Film Review, Genre - Fantasy, Year - 2010-2019 | , , , , , , , , ,

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