Want more money to spend on fireworks this weekend? Can’t decide on which movie to watch come Friday night? Maybe this review will help!
The M. Night Shyamalan-written-produced-and-directed imagining of the popular cartoon series The Last Airbender is a disconnected dud. The effects are amazing, the potential was there, but it just couldn’t connect with the audience.
I walked out of the screening feeling ripped off. To top it off, it was a free screening! One of my main complaints (of which you will read many in this review) is the movie’s pacing. I heard countless groups of people talking after the screening and in my eavesdropping heard the same six words uttered over and over: “It was all over the place.” It really was. It was a monumental task for M. Night to undertake. He tried to pack 20 fun-filled episodes into a way-too-serious two-hour film. The multi-location and travel pacing was not done well. It left you feeling disconnected from the events because the timing felt so odd. So many locations to cover, so little time. I give him credit for trying to cram it all in there and stay true to the original series’ story line, but he didn’t come through.
Too be honest, at least 10% of the audience at the free screening walked out on the film. Even entire families could be seen heading for the exits. They would usually leave right after a bad scene. The movie is very rollercoaster-esque. Bad scene, good scene, bad scene, terrible scene, decent scene, amazing scene, awful scene, etc. It leaves a bad taste in your mouth. Some people just couldn’t take it anymore and walked out. Right after a bad scene would end I would think to myself "That was bad." Then, right on cue, someone would stand up and walk out. At first I thought they were just RunPee trips. Then I noticed that they never came back. I don’t blame them.
On to the casting! The characters all look the part. They kind of act the part. However, I just wasn’t buying any of it. Noah Ringer played Aang, the title character. His acting was close to decent. I really didn’t like how M. Night wrote Aang as a gloomy kid who only smiles a few times in the film. The fun loving Katara (Nicola Peltz) and Sokka (Jackson Rathbone) were awkward and barely showed any fun side, even when they were trying to be funny. I was really rooting for Dev Patel (Slumdog Millionaire), but the way that he played Prince Zuko was difficult to watch. I didn’t buy any of his emotions, nor did I want to invest in his very important storyline. Overall the casting was okay, I just think that the material M. Night gave them and the way that he shot it was bush-league. It didn’t seem like the epic picture that it could have been.
After watching the trailer I was really looking forward to the action scenes. The effects (the movie’s only saving grace) were amazing. Incredible at times. However, the choreography was barely up to par and the background fighting was awful. Sometimes my eye would wander to those fighting in the background and it looked like terrible high school play fighting going on. Do they know that they’re in a big budget movie? I liked the effects. I liked the element “bending” and the extremely cool movements of the benders. However, the poor details stack up too fast. There are a couple of very breathtaking scenes, but they are not enough to make up for the rest of the empty movie.
I had high hopes for this film. I like the source material and decided to overlook the fact that M. Night Shyamalan was probably going to ruin it. Too bad he did. I kept trying to get into the movie. I kept trying to lose myself in the world that was attempting to be created. It just wasn’t happening. The movie was darker than I expected. I could count the number of “funny” scenes on one hand. The movie was true to the storyline, but not true to the spirit and overall feel of the cartoon series. If you were planning on watching this movie, do yourself a favor. Spend that money on something with some real bang.