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Posted on 7/02/10 12:53 PM
This adaptation was severely disjointed, mirthless, banal, & tedious throughout. First off, M. Knight changes the pronunciation of more than half of the characters names so that they fit into his changing of the entire world from one based on oriental mythology and lore to Indian. Next he ripped any and all humor and mirth out of the story by making every line of miswritten dialogue be as stark and filled with grave gravitas as possible. Now take that tone and run it thru the 3rd grade dialogue filter so that every line is blatantly pointing out what is going on around the characters (while somehow not revealing anything of the actual plot; if you have not seen the series, you'll have no idea what's going on). Then take said terrible dialogue and deliver it by sub-par actors.
In terms of plot devices, & special effects; there's montages that neither show anything special going on nor advance the plot at all. There's devices that we've seen previously in gladiator and 300 used without any semblance of timing or logic. The effects, while impressive looking, don't retain the sense of timing (the reactions and interactions of most effects and people are way off in both speed and reality) and physics they would need to feel natural (most of the shots where anything is falling from the sky look like it has the gravity of the moon). The bending effects, while flowing naturally as an extension of the bender in the tv series, now require an entire dance and form to even get a pebble to fly thru the air. The amount of force and exertion this requires should be no more complicated than swinging a sword for even the lowliest fire nation foot soldier; however for anybody besides a high level master of the discipline it requires so much action and warm up time and unneeded movement it seems like they were trying to move mountains with their mind. The battle scenes look like you're watching a stage performance; with fighters blocking and parrying mindlessly in the background, while the foreground characters either stare around, or blather mindlessly without any sense of urgency or consequence. The same goes for just about any onscreen action, be it walking or running, or anything besides dialogue.
As for the characters themselves; Ang is neither spiteful nor humorous. At his most badass he scares away the opposition rather than render them useless or dead. His ability to enter into the (unexplained in this movie) Avatar state is at will, in complete contradiction to the series. Any place that you could have meaningful character development or interaction; instead you either got voice over or a montage. There were places in the television series that had practically moved me to tears; where in the movie I felt nothing for the moment nor for the characters involved therein.
The word that keeps coming to mind throughout watching The last airbender was tedious. The dialogue, the characters and their interaction, the battles, the back-story; all very tedious, over-analyzed, and yet under performed. My wife and I were both rather disappointed; as I feel any fan of the original show would be. As for any people that had not been fans of the nickelodeon series; this will neither give them a decent sense of what the series was about (or how good that it actually was!) nor raise their curiosity enough to actually invest the time or energy into finding out.
Hopefully 'The Last Airbender' will be Shyamalan's last installment; and they will either let the series rest, or hand the next chapter off to a more capable director (whose first step should be to recast everybody). It seems to be this story would be fairly easy to tell. Go thru the series, find the episodes and scenes that let you know the characters & advance the plot; and let the rest fall into place. I would have been fairly satisfied seeing more or less a live action version using the original script as the majority of the backbone of this film. Unfortunately Shyamalan tried to recreate the world and characters from the ground up, and failed miserably in the process.
Posted on 4/12/10 11:18 AM
An awesome soaring experience sure to please audiences of all ages. Fine vocal work and tender, real emotion accompany wonderfully rendered creatures and environments in Dreamworks latest tales. Surely one of the most original films to date (even though it was based on a book) the only negative thing i can say about the movie is the hordes of younger audience members it attracts. Do yourself a favor and go see it after their bedtime for a distraction free movie going experience. The 3d rendering herein is stunning and definitely adds more depth than gimmick to the story; on par with avatar's 3d (in it's animated sections).
Summation: 96%, GO SEE IT!