Movie Review: The Last Air Bender

Sigh…. I got to the end of this movie, and my first thought was, “Where have you gone, M. Night Shyamalan?” Actually, I thought that throughout the movie.

Where is the genius that gave us Signs, Sixth Sense…? Even The Village and Unbreakable? Where is the mastery? Where is the suspense? Where is the total belief in his world and his imagination? To call this a clunker and dud would be generous, but here’s the review anyway….

The Good

Sigh… The potential. The potential of this film was incredible. It had the ability to be so much richer, fuller, and better than it actually was. The concept. The concept of this film was incredible. It had the ability to be so much deeper, more powerful, and more solid than it actually was.

Not even the special effects, which in the past would have been enough to support this film, are good enough for our expectations today. They just aren’t enough anymore.

The Bad

Where to start? Stilted acting, terrible dialog, lack of purpose, lack of direction, lack of continuity, lack of focus, lack of reason. Need I go on?

Courtney pointed out to me after another round of complaints that it was a kid movie. Yeah, but so was Princess and the Frog. So was How to Train Your Dragon. I can’t excuse this film for being a kid’s movie, especially when it was offered as a big budget blockbuster. Kid movie or not, there are expectations, and sadly this would have been better received if it had been offered with the hokey trailers found with films like Santa Clause III, The Nutty Professor, and even Barbie’s Great Adventure.


Need you ask? If you’ve got kids who are really into the Avatar cartoons, I’m sure they’ll love it. If you don’t, I’m sorry. And I’m especially sorry if you’re the parents of kids into the Avatar cartoons. You’ll probably end up seeing it many times and even buying it.

The things that make me saddest about this film, though, are that (1) it should have been good. This is M. Night Shyamalan we’re talking about here! This is the man who only five or six years ago could do no wrong, who created box office gold with a snap of his fingers. What has happened to him?

But it also makes me sad because (2) this film could have been solid and DONE in one movie (not the planned for trilogy) if the writers/directors/producers/etc would have simply done so. The first film drags through mountains of nonsense and uselessness to leave at a conclusion so unsatisfactory and unpalatable as to render any seedling of desire to see the next one dead and barren. And I mean that. If they had extended the film 45 minutes, condensed the storyline, and stuck to a tight script, they could have done the entire story in a little over two hours, and it would have been incredible.

Instead we got this.

We all know they did it to suck an extra bit of box office receipts from the wanton public (read: your kids). You can be sure that they will not be making a penny more for me.

Rating: .5 out of 4 stars

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4 Responses to Movie Review: The Last Air Bender

  1. joeandlora says:

    Agreed. I was on a plane when it was shown and I was able to last a good 20 minutes or so before I took the headphones off. And that’s saying something since there isn’t a lot of alternative entertainment on an airplane!

  2. Laura G says:

    Lady in the Water is entirely indicative of what happened to Shyamalan — he got too far into his own head to have a clue what other people see. I was really hoping that with Airbender, using someone else’s property would force some perspective into him. Sadly, not.

    Which, in retrospect, makes me really glad he decided not to do Life of Pi.

  3. Travis says:

    In a way, I disagree with you.
    Not about the movie being bad, because it was bad, it was very bad.
    However, I still was intrigued in the world and interested in the turns that the future stories might take. The “next villain” could be a potentially interesting idea. I am fascinated by the potential of the film and, for me, I can still see the potential.
    I am not so intrigued that I want to watch the cartoon series, but intrigued enough that I would see sequels, if they come. I would prefer a different writer/director though.
    I thought it was hysterical that all of the bad guys were BAD and all of the good guys were GOOD. No moral quandries, no questions, they just were. All bad characters should have had long mustaches to twirl.

  4. nosurfgirl says:

    The cartoon series is way better. Way, way better. 😀

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