Movie Review :: The Last Airbender


So have you seen the trailer for this movie?  The kid with the glowing tattoo.  The water and fire that is controlled by the warrior teenagers.  The amazing fight scenes.  And its a story about a mysterious kid who turns out to be the savior of the world.  Top it off with M. Night Shyamalan as the writer, director, and producer.  Looks like it could be a great movie, right?

Hold on a minute.  Have you followed M. Night Shyamalan’s career?  He’s really a very hit or miss director.  With the exception of The Sixth Sense, his movies are either horrible or mediocre.  But he definitely has his own style.  Here’s a guy that has such a talent for filming his movies in very artistic ways.  He gets really great plot ideas.  Unfortunately, as history has shown, he’s just not great at storytelling.  And no matter how great his filming technique is, if the story sucks, the movie sucks.

So what about his latest creation, adapted from the world of Anime, The Last Airbender.  Well, if M. Night Shyamalan is anything, he’s at least consistent.  I say that to say that movie was bad.  Really bad.  Bad acting.  Undeveloped characters.  Under capitalized scenes.  Shortened fight scenes.  In fact, the most entertaining part of this movie for me wasn’t anything to do with movie, it was a guy in the audience who literally picked a fight with the guy next to him for texting too much during the movie.  And who could blame the serial texter…the movie certainly wasn’t keeping his attention.  Perhaps the guy should have picked a fight with Mr. Shyamalan.

Of course, the tragic part of this whole thing is not just that it was a bad movie- the worst part is that this story had SO SO SO much potential to be great.  The premise is really amazing.  M. Night knew when he read the Last Airbender comic that would be a compelling story and movie for an American audience.  The general population of America hasn’t quite accepted anime, so to bring it to a live action movie was a brilliant idea.  Too bad he was the one who secured the rights.

If the makers of The Last Airbender really wanted to make a good move, reclaim the rights from M. Night, and give them to someone else to do over. Maybe then we could forget this travesty of a movie.  I can’t emphasize it enough- Hollywood, please hear me- your main thing is to tell a good story and tell it well.  Use your art form to do that, and you will have a good movie.  If you need a class in what’s not good storytelling- study this movie.  Notice the following:

-Lack of backstory, but you know one exists

-The ease with which the characters accept life altering news, there’s no struggle

-The incomplete story, which will force a sequel, God help us all.  At least the two weren’t made simultaneously and there’s still hope for the series.

-The complete ignoring of beautifully constructed sets

-A deep mythology left way too unexplored.

-A love story and redemption story that was given maybe 4 minutes of screen time.

-Pisspoor acting, which goes back to the director in the end- its his job to coach and get great performances out of his actors.

-A story that you were told was about one thing, but in the end became about something else altogether.

This movie gets a D in my book.  Wait for it to come out on DVD, and put it on while you’re outside mowing the lawn.  At least then you wouldn’t have wasted that two hours of your life.

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