4 of 7 people found the following review helpful
A complete disappointment.,
This review is from: The Last Airbender (DVD)
Usually I wouldn't bother reviewing something that I did not find some sort of enjoyment in, but I noticed that The Last Airbender was averaging two and a half stars and that's just plain misleading to the potential victims--I mean customers. This movie is every bit as terrible as you have heard. If you have spent any fraction of your life watching this, I'm sorry.
The cartoon this was based on, Avatar: The Last Airbender, is great. How could such great source material be so completely squandered by a director? I have no idea. I actually liked M. Night Shyamalan as a director before this. I even enjoyed a couple of his films that generally get ripped by reviewers, like The Village and Lady In The Water. But with this film, he lost me. I mean, was it possible that he truly did not realize just how bad a movie he was making? I doubt it. This feels more like someone had a franchise with a strong enough fan base that he knew the movie was going to be watched, so he just produced garbage without even trying.
Some of my specific gripes with this film: First, taking Katara, a strong female character from the cartoon, and turning her into the film's Narrator. And by Narrator, I mean the one who tells the audience what happens because the director has decided to cut out all of the traveling sequences in the film. Expect a lot of "We traveled to such and such a place...and then we went to..." And that is her main role in the film. The fact that he even needed a character to tell the audience what was happening should have been a clue to Mr. Shyamalan that he was doing something wrong. Imagine you are watching Star Wars, and Princess Leia's only role in the movies is to give annoying voiceovers saying things like "Then Luke found himself in the desert land of Tatooine..." It's that bad. And it gives the whole film a very amateur feel to it.
My next big gripe is the complete disrespect the director has for the mythology of the series. Important characters are gone from the story. The Firebenders can't do their firebending without a pre-existing flame (a relatively small gripe, but what was the point of changing it?). The whole Spirit World, awesome in the series, is really badly imagined in the film. My favorite moment, just because of how bad it was: A group of imprisoned Earthbenders need rescued by our heroes. In the cartoon, they are imprisoned in a metal prison at sea, away from any earth and rocks they could use to escape. In the film, they are imprisoned...where earth is all around them. But they need Aang to inspire them with one of the most uninspiring speeches ever to be delivered in a film in order for them to find the will to free themselves.
I don't know what to make of the young actors in the film. A lot of people complain about them, but they seem all right to me. They've just been directed really badly and given an awful script is all. Blame M. Night Shyamalan. But their performances never get to go beyond the terrible lines of dialogue they have. (The animated series had fun, sometimes witty dialogue.)
The story has been butchered to fit an entire season of episodes into a single film. It gives the film a feeling that it is always rushing along, never allowed to stay in a scene long enough for the scene to matter. (Sped along by poor Katara's bad narration.)
The heart of my complaint against the film is how far it is fallen from its source material. This is worse than that Eragon movie (sorry for reopening that wound, Eragon fans). But even if I had never seen the animated series, I would have known a bad movie when I saw it. It moves at a pace that is too fast, relies on a Narrator to tell things it should be showing (Like when two characters fall in love, Katara's narration actually has to tell the viewer that they are falling in love. This should never happen in any film.), and gives the viewer no real reason to love the world or its characters.
The film does have decent visual effects and nice costumes, but they are not enough to make up in any way for the terrible storytelling and badly realized characters. And the worst part is knowing what could have been. If they had just given the story and characters the same respect that the Harry Potter films had given the books they were adapting, things would have been fine. They could have broken the saga up into six movies instead of three and made a lot more money and actually have pleased some of the fans. But, alas, it was not to be...
Don't waste your time or money on this movie.
Final Grade: F