Posted on 7/01/10 12:31 AM
Review from SpicyMovieDogs.com:
Rushed, soulless and harboring some of the worst acting I've seen in an adaptation, M.Knight Shyamalan's The Last Airbender will probably become the blueprint for future Directors as to what not to do when making a movie. Leaving the theater my friend described what he had seen as a "highlight reel of all the cool things from the first season of Avatar The Last Airbender." When the credits went up after the final scene, people were groaning, two guys clapped loudly hoping that the applause would catch on (it didn't) and the obvious fans of the show scurried out hurriedly whispering thoughts of disappointment and wearing expressions of being letdown.
It has been a long road to the launching of this movie, as a non-fan I sat on the sidelines observing the build-up and the hope that M.Knight would knock this one out of the park. Controversy over the race of the main characters plagued it from the beginning but the confidence of the Director reassured people that it would do justice to their beloved show. As a movie watcher I was appalled by the acting of Jackson Rathbone as Sokka, the kid managed to channel both Hayden Christensen's Anakin Skywalker and Ben Affleck's... hell anything Ben Affleck has done, all in one character. Channing Tatum would rival Robin Williams in animation compared to this guy. I think the term is wooden, but in this case I will say he was iron, an emotionless waste of screen time and a laughably distracting reminder of Anakin from Attack of The Clones.
While Sokka was making me wonder whether or not he was trying to singlehandedly ruin the movie, I found Aang (Noah Ringer) to be an extremely likeable kid. Having him being the focus was not a bad thing at all as his martial arts katas were impressive, his acting was tolerable and his emotions were played out well upon his young face. Katara (Nicola Peltz) was a little better than Sokka (not saying much) and we all know that Dev Patel (Prince Zuko) can act after kicking ass in Slumdog Millionaire. These main players are who we stare at throughout the movie and the terrible dialogue they were given did not help things as they traded off lines with little care for authenticity.
The pacing was rushed, and I haven't even watched the series to make this judgement. By the time the movie ended the only people I gave a crap about was Prince Zuko and Aang. There was no background given on the weird flying bison that Aang rode, his flying monkey or well damn even his friends. The people who were supposedly downtrodden by the fire nation did not evoke any emotion or care from me and the might and threatening power of fire did not come off as convincing as I thought it should. I hate to draw comparisons but the sheer scale of this movie gave me flashbacks to Peter Jackson's Lord of The Rings. In that movie you felt the impending doom of The Eye, you worried for Middle Earth and you gave a damn about the main players. The Last Air Bender could have used some lessons from that trilogy to being about some sort of ownership of the characters from the audience.
This movie felt as if it was a homage to the series assuming that you already knew what everyone had going on, already know what will happen and already like individual players. It rushed through the tale of Aang and ended without much explanation, leaving me with questions and wondering if it stunk because I didn't view the source material. My questions to my friend were of the nature of "was Sokka that wooden in the cartoon? Cause if he was this guy needs an Oscar", I also had to ask about the flying monkey and bison. There was even a 10 minute romance arc, that's right folks boy meets girl and they fall in love without explaining how and why -- just here they love one another. The Last Airbender should really have been three movies, split up realistically to allow for character development, strong pacing and a more dynamic display of what Aang could do.
Protesters of the movie who will boycott it due to the previews looking like evil Desi people being mean to a bunch of white heroes... well that's not too far off of what I saw but there are people of color scattered throughout the nations (thanks for throwing us a bone M.Knight). While your boycott will prevent you from seeing it anyway, let me assure you are not missing anything worthwhile so clutch your Nickelodeon Avatar Blu-Rays closely and don't you sweat. I am not sure whether to feel sorry for Mr. Shyamalan or chalk it up to the fact that maybe he just isn't all that great. It was a visually beautiful movie for what it's worth, but it lacked a soul and that my friends is why it fails.