Friday, August 06, 2010

The Last Airbender (2010)

By Reymundo Salao

Okay, so this is another LATE review. The movie already had a late release here in the Philippines, now, my review came even LATE-ER. But here it is...

There was a time when the words "Written, Produced, and Directed by M. Night Shyamalan" seemed like a good movie. But after a string of, not just disappointing movies, but really flat out bad movies, Shyamalan's career has gone from bad to worse. It is very surprising that a director who was once hailed as a next Spielberg could have fallen into not just a mediocre film-maker, but a really bad one the likes of Uwe Boll and Joel Lamangan have seen.

THE LAST AIRBENDER is the film adaptation of the phenomenal animated TV series AVATAR: THE LAST AIRBENDER. The TV series was said to be this classic landmark in fantasy sci fi fiction, but those who are familiar with this series claim that Shyamalan has changed many aspects of the story and injected his own elements, and his own style, that is to say that being awful at what you do is a style that he has nowadays.

It is actually incredible how a movie supposedly rich with so many magical elements, martial arts action, breath-taking stunts, bizarre creatures, and exotic and strange locations, can still become a movie that is not even a bit above awful.

The acting was horrible. Forgiving the cast because most of them were child actors is not a good enough excuse because we have all seen too many better child actors and actresses than this. Either that, or the director was just not able to extract a good enough energy to act in this. Even the great Liam Neeson could not give a decent performance in George Lucas' stinky Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace, looks like Noah Ringer and the rest of the cast may find themselves in a very similar predicament.

Most of the time, what made their performances awful was the very bland and the disorderly editing. At one point, Aang was acting up an emotion of loss for his monk friends, and the angle never pans or shifts to another, it just stays at a single side, eventually making Noah Ringer's acting look all the more awkwardly bad.

The script itself was just downright tasteless; poorly written and chronically lacking in fluidity and even common sense. I was desperately already lowering my expectations, just so that I could enjoy the movie in my most tolerable state, but the first fifteen minutes just struck me down, crushing my already low expectations. The first fifteen minutes already tells you that the acting is bad and whatever they do and however they react in this story does not make much sense.

The movie tried to force in the love story between Sokka and Yue, which just ended up being extremely bland and hilariously corny.

The only factors remotely edible here was the action and the special effects, the costumes were all great also, and the set design was marvelous, most of all, I adore the musical score. I even did manage to obtain a copy of the soundtrack. But all of those factors, no matter how great they are, cannot redeem the awfulness of the entire movie, and this has already ingrained itself on the throne as the most disappointing movie (possibly, ever). Just as the original animated series was phenomenally good. This movie version is phenomenally bad.


When they first see Aang inside the icy sphere, they never react much to the creature (Appa).

When they brought Aang to the village, they seem to have just neglected him there, nobody was even curious of such discovery the children made. Nobody was curious about the strange creature (Appa). No elder seemed to made any advice to them.

When Aang discovered that his monk friends were already gone.

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