M. Night Shyamalan is one of the most controversial filmmakers of this era, and a story of many great highlights, and several lowly lows. It all started with The Sixth Sense, which quickly became one of the most popular films of 1999, leading to the film garnering an impressive six Oscar nominations. M. Night even followed it with another big success, Unbreakable, which has maybe even a bigger cult following than The Sixth Sense today. Then it started to all go downhill from there. After the good, not great Signs, the so-so The Village and the failures of Lady in the Water and The Happening led to him overall being considered a joke, which led to most expecting the worst with The Last Airbender.
Personally, my hopes were somewhat high for this film. As a fan of the great Avatar: The Last Airbender, it was clear to me M. Night had a lot of great material here to work with and adapt, which would help with his recent creative funk. Then in 2009 when the first teaser came out, my hopes turned to excitement. Not only did the trailer give off similar vibes as the show, but also promised an epic scope, which the television show could never really have due to its smaller budget. Then once release came, I, along with everyone, experienced the true cacophony of shit that is, The Last Airbender.
The Last Airbender follows Aang, who is the last avatar, a person who is able to bend all four elements, earth, wind, fire, and water. When Aang is taken out of rest by Katara and Sokka, he befriends them while they are on the run from the fire nation, as exiled prince Zuko has the one duty of finding and imprisoning Aang.
For all the flak the movie gets, there are a few elements going for it. The big budget production design of this movies is great. Some of the bigger action set-pieces look fantastic. Mostly all of the cosmetics here look good, such as authentic costumes and great set design, which means the behind the scenes team really deserves some credit for doing their job, and doing it well.
The Last Airbender is also a short movie, running for about 95 minutes before its inevitable close, and that’s is all I got for positives for this shit pie.
While the movie is short, the pacing here is rather poor. The movie takes far too long to get off the ground, with the first thirty minutes or so boring me to tears. Even after the film really gets going, the whole ordeal is just a bore, as the story here is just as basic as ever. The Last Airbender follows many tropes of the basic adventure-type movie, making this a mishmash of seen it all before.
The story is not only simple, but makes little sense. Without the guide of the television show, there is little chance of understanding the specifics of this story. M. Night here fails to develop any ounce of originality and even common sense in this story, basically dooming the film from its start.
The acting in here is some of the worst in recent memory, and is a prime indicator of how M. Night has lost his mind. Calling this cast “the most diverse cast of all time” was just a giant joke, since it shouldn’t really be a diverse cast if he was trying to follow the show and the cast isn’t really that diverse anyway.
Leading the way is Noah Ringer as Aang, and his performance is a sin to the television show. Ringer lacks any of the likability, charm, or energy that Aang should have, and instead of feeling like a child, he feels like a robot. His line delivery is just so awkward, that it almost makes you feel bad that this kid, who clearly can’t act, is headlining a major motion picture.
Co-stars Nicola Peltz and Jackson Rathbone are somehow even worse. Peltz, who plays just such a completely dull character, almost put me to sleep with her stale delivery as Katara, and then Rathbone is just annoying as all hell as Sokka, as he basically drained all of the likability of the character. Even the talented Dev Patel is terrible here, as he is just fails to fit the part of the angry Zuko.
Defending the actors here a bit, it was perhaps nearly impossible to pull off a good performance with this material, but their bland performances add nothing to it.
The dialogue here is absolutely terrible. M. Night may have put together his worst screenplay yet, which is pretty pitiful considering this is a follow up to the disastrous The Happening. From several jokes that have no comedic value, to severe amounts of plot exposition, to lines that just are so bad they are good, M. Night has created a train-wreck for the ages, being considered nearly as bad as the infamous The Room.
Beer Five and Beer Six
What is most likely the worst part of it all is how much of a middle finger this is to the great television series. Everything charming, well-developed, and just good about the show is just totally missing, and instead, M. Night inserts a largely terrible adventure tale. There is just a wealth of source material to use when adapting this series, but the fact is, that material was either largely ignored or extremely misunderstood.
One of the worst adaptions of recent memory, an unspeakably bad train-wreck that is only worth watching for shame laughs, unless you are a fan of the show, then it’s just torture.
Do a Shot: for the hilarious blinking scene.
Take a Drink: whenever someone does a ridiculous interpretive dance move.
Do a Shot: for each shamefully bad miscasting
Down a 32 oz: to the M. Night cameo; wow, that was bad.