Monday, July 12, 2010

Movie with Abe: The Last Airbender

The Last Airbender
Directed by M. Night Shyamalan
Released July 2, 2010

If bending the elements seems mind-blowing, comprehending just how awful this movie is will be unfathomable. This failure of a film is unbearably boring and mysteriously incapable of delivering in any possible way. It’s even more puzzling when its high-profile director and apparently excellent source material are taken into account. Yet somehow, “The Last Airbender,” which was originally titled “Avatar: The Last Airbender” but renamed to avoid confusion (and possibly copyright infringement) with another recent big-budget sci-fi extravaganza, doesn’t have anything to offer that could make anyone perceive it as a remotely good movie.

For all of the criticism he has received, M. Night Shyamalan knows how to do certain things. The director of “The Sixth Sense” quickly earned contempt from many after delivering twist ending after twist ending in follow-up films “Unbreakable,” “Signs,” “The Village,” “Lady in the Water,” and “The Happening.” While some might disagree when it comes to his more recent films, Shyamalan is extraordinarily capable of creating suspense and crafting a frightening and foreboding mood for all of his movies. One thing that Shyamalan excels at is working with child actors. Look no further than the Oscar-nominated turn by Haley Joel Osment in “The Sixth Sense” and the performance by future Oscar nominee Abigail Breslin in “Signs.”

Yet “The Last Airbender” possesses none of that. It boasts perhaps the worst acting by every single member of the ensemble, most of who seem like they’re almost deliberately trying to make their lines sound hopelessly silly. This is the first time Shyamalan is adapting someone else’s material in a film that he directs, but he penned the screenplay to the film version of “Stuart Little” in 1999 and that movie is actually quite viewable by adults. Arguing that “The Last Airbender” is a film for kids doesn’t excuse its abysmal writing and the horrendous performances turned in by each and every member of the cast. The movie is rated PG, but a child wouldn’t need a guardian to make a better movie than this.

So if this film isn’t about performances or writing, then what it is about? That would be the special effects. The problem is that they are just as terrible as the rest of the film. Paying an extra $3-$5 to see the film in 3-D will give audiences the chance to see the opening credits jump off the screen and nothing else. Bending air and fire should be amazingly cool to watch. Here, it’s just boring. Any hope that a major action scene might be swiftly on the way is quickly dashed after each successive disappointing fight or battle scene. Ending the film smack dab in the middle of the action serves to infuriate frustrated viewers rather than to entice them for another installment. This Avatar is hopeless to save this movie. Where’s Jake Sully when you need him?


1 comment:

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