This is a review. It’s a review because it’s published with a Reviews tag, and shows up in the Reviews section. However, you could also use Google to find the review. This is because Google is a search engine and lets you search for articles online. Or if you want to save yourself the trouble in the future, you can also bookmark this review. Doing so will make it show up in your bookmarks section. Bookmarks are . . . UGH. This is how The Last Airbender tells its story.
As you may have noticed, I haven’t been posting on the site at all lately. That’s because watching The Last Airbender literally made me sick, and for the past few days I’ve been having feverish dreams day and night, leaving bed only to hack up part of my lung. Try as I might, M. Night Shyamalan’s Airbender just won’t leave my mind or body, and that’s something I’ll have to live with.
Similarly, a terrible review score is something Airbender will have to live with. It won’t be the first or last it receives, but hit the jump to see me try to cause it as much pain as it caused me.
Back when I was young enough to be the Airbender kid in real life, one of the lessons I learned in school between “everyone poops” and “cavities are bad” was a literary rule that for some reason gets the best of everyone now and again: “Show, don’t tell.” Going into this movie I had heard about how exposition heavy it was, and surely thought it was being over exaggerated due to the quickness to hate on Shyamalan these days. It turns out that Night deserves every bit of anger he got for this film.
Because I shudder at the thought of the movie’s dialogue; let’s begin with the putrid main characters’ acting jobs. Noah Ringer may have looked the part of Aang, but his acting was so bad that I now want to watch his next film (Cowboys & Aliens) far less. Sokka (Jackson Rathbone) goes beyond being comic relief and is an insult to his version in the animated series. Katara (Nicola Peltz) often has to speak excessively fast just to manage to spit out all of her assigned lines in scenes. Shaun Toub would be the worst self-proclaimed mastermind if M. Night himself didn’t already have that bragging right, and his lines all sounded like audio clips from The Room. Dev Patel at least gives a good effort as Prince Zuko, so I can understand why he’s called the movie industry racist when he did such a great job in Slumdog Millionaire, and then this is the only acting job he could get since then.
As for the story, after the first 15 minutes we see no change in Aang for the rest of the movie, leaving me to laugh at the scenes that suggest rebelling is out of his power. There’s even one scene that tackles this exact issue, yet only proves my point: a village full of earthbenders are ruled by a few firebenders, and they never once rebel even though they’re surrounded by earth. From here it trudges through a very simple concept and thinks it can make up for it by jumping around the globe every few minutes.
There’s so much dialogue that it’s hard to pick my absolute favorite, but it might be “Again, I offer my condolences on your nephew burning to death in that terrible accident” or a scene where a general lays out an entire explanation for who is a traitor and why, and then the king repeats him word for word and asks him if that’s what he’s telling him, which he replies to with a “ . . . . . . Yes.” When even your own story’s characters confusedly deliver their lines with a constant “WTF?” mentality, then you know you’ve vastly failed your film.
There’s no point in wasting any more of my time on everything that didn’t work well, so I’ll just cut this short and say that there are maybe five lines that aren’t terrible, Dev Patel didn’t suck that much, and even though narrative dialogue often butts in on the special effects, there are some cool effects scenes, which is the only thing preventing me from giving this movie en even lower review score.
Overall Score: 4.25 – Terrible. (4s are terrible in many ways. They’re bad enough that even diehard fans of its genre, director, or cast still probably won’t enjoy it at all, and everyone else will leave the theater incredibly angry. Not only are these not worth renting, you should even change the TV channel on them in the future.)
Overall Score: 3.40 — The Last Airbender is insufferable for adults and no doubt doubly so for children or fans of the animé, who will be hit twice as hard by the portentous dialogue, dour tone, torturous pacing and hollow spectacle. For a more enjoyable evening’s entertainment, take a dive into an active volcano. And live. You can read his full review here!