Thursday, July 8, 2010

The Last Airbender

Release Date: July 1st 2010

Click here for The Last Airbender Trailer.

In a world where people can harness and control the four elements of wind, water, earth and fire, one individual stands supreme, the Avatar. The Avatar has the unique ability to learn how to control all four elements and is tasked with keeping peace between the four nations. But the last Avatar went missing nearly 100 years ago. Since then, the Fire Nation has declared open war on all other nations and has completely wiped out the Air Nation and begun enslaving both the Water Nations and Earth Nations.

The threat of Fire Nation dominance over the world seems almost complete until a two young members of the Water Nation, a young warrior named Sokka(Jackson Rathbone) and his water bending sister Katara(Nicola Peltz), find a young boy frozen in a globe of ice. When they release the boy, they realize that he is of the Air Nation and the last of his kind, Remembering the stories that the Avatar was to be born of the Air Nation, Sokka and Katara determine that this boy is the Avatar.

The Avatar has reincarnated himself as Aang(Noah Ringer), you young boy from the Northern Air Temple. Aang doesn't realize that he has been frozen for nearly 100 years. Sokka and Katara take Aang back to their tribe where Young Prince Zuko(Dev Patel), son of Fire Lord Ozai(Cliff Curtis), is waiting. Zuko was exiled by his father and determines that the only way to get back into his good graces is to capture the Avatar and deliver him to his father.

Aang agrees to go with Zuko if he promises not to hurt any of the villagers. While aboard Zuko's ship, Aang quickly escapes and is picked up by Katara and Sokka on Appa, Aang's pet flying bison. Sokka and Katara tell Aang that they will travel with him on his journey. The Only way for Aang to defeat the Fire Nation is to master all four elements. Aang, Katara and Sokka make their way to the Northern Water Tribe where so Aang can learn water bending from a true master.

Zuko learns of this plan and the Fire Nation attacks the Northern Water tribe in order to stop the Avatar. Fire Lord Ozai realizes that there is only one way to stop the Avatar. A comet, known as Sozin's Comet, pases by the world of the Avatar every hundred years. The Fire Nation benders are able to draw power from it as the comet makes their bending impossibly powerful. In order for Aang to defeat the fire nation he has to master the four elements before Sozin's Comet arrives in 3 years.

Ok so I am a HUGE fan of the Nickelodeon cartoon Avatar: The Last Airbender, the basis behind this movie. The cartoon brought something different to the normal hodgepodge of animated crap that decays the minds of today's youth. It had plot, entertainment, humor, drama, action and anything else you could want in a good show. So needless to say that when I saw the first teaser for The Last Airbender I was giddy, to say the least. And then I saw that it was being directed by M. Night Shyamalan and I thought "no no no! Why him!" Let's face it, after The Sixth Sense and Signs Shyamalan's movies have pretty much sucked. But then I thought, "well this already has a set plot and characters and storyline, he can't possibly throw something in there to completely ruin it." I was wrong.

To say that M. Night Shyamalan ruined this movie is an understatement. He literally took the pure joy that was the cartoon and beat it to within an inch of its life and then proceeded to run over it with a combine while laughing at it. Almost everything about this movie was wrong, from the over exaggerated bending moves to the dull, lifeless characters to even the mispronunciation of the characters' names Shyamalan just didn't get anything right.

Lets start off with the characters. Noah Ringer plays Aang and here we have our first mistake. This kid was purely horrendous. Ringer was emotionless, lifeless and tried to act better than he really can. The original character is supposed to be fun loving, charismatic and energetic and Ringer was anything but all those. Nicola Peltz, who plays Katara, was equally as bad. While she was slightly better than ringer, its only like saying that cat poo is better than dog poo. The we have Mr. Rathbone. Jackson Rathbone, who many of you may recognize from those Twilight movies, plays Sokka, Katara's older brother. Shyamalan decided to take the most unserious character from the show and try to make him into a badass leader. Well Mr. Shyamalan, mission failed.

The only salvageable performances came from Dev Patel, who played Prince Zuko, and Shaun Toub who played Zuko's uncle Iroh. Patel's performance wasn't bad considering he is an Indian actor playing and Asian character! Toub wasn't hard;y in the movie enough to get screwed by Shyamalan so kudos to him. Nearly all the characters were lifeless. Even Aang's pet flying bison Appa and his lemurbat MoMo (who was only seen maybe twice) were emotionless, as opposed to the cartoon where they added life and comic relief.

My next gripe is with the dialog and mispronunciation of names. Sokka, Aang and Iroh were the top three mispronounced names, oh, and even the word Avatar was pronounced with long "a" instead of a short one sometimes. Is it really that hard to insert the DVD of the cartoon into the DVD player and listen to how they pronounce the names? I mean seriously? The bending effects were cool. I will give the movie that. When there was actual bending and fighting going on the movie did good though the actions used sometimes to perform the bending were too long and drawn out which seemed completely pointless.

The opening credits have given anybody who has seen the show or movie regret as it stated "Book One: Water" which, of course, was the name given to the first season of the cartoon implying that there are two more movies that are being made. I feel that their only hope of success is to find a new director and writer. And while I am not particularly fond of different actors being brought in to play the same role as somebody else, the next movies could definitely benefit from it, especially in the title character of Aang.

Overall M. Night Shyamalan managed to take a beloved Nickelodeon cartoon that was one of the best ever created and turn it into a steaming pile of crap. If you have never ever seen the cartoon then there is the vague hop that you may find something in this film to like. But for those of us who were fans the original source material, this film just does not simply live up to our heightened expectations.

I give The Last Airbender 5 six-legged flying bison out of 10.

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  1. Good input. It's always difficult casting young people for movies because maybe acting is a little tougher than people like to think. BUT that being said, i also found the mispronunciation of the names in the movie to the most irritating and most easily avoidable flop ever. Did Shyamalan even watch the cartoon? When I saw The Village I actually said to myself, "holy donkey balls."

    Good Review Z.

  2. Hi,
    Excellent review. Film critics weren't slow to proclaim that director M. Night Shyamalan had finally been deprived of his last bit of ability, when they first laid eyes and ears on this summer's live action movie - The Last Airbender - a big screen flick based on Nickelodeon's immensely popular TV-show.


  3. Hi,
    Exquisite. I bought the DVDs of all three seasons and watched it from start to finish. I was impressed, not only by the animation, but also by the complex story line and the strong messages it was teaching kids about honor, responsibility, friendship, trust, faith, and love.