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The Last Airbender (2010)

Starring:

Aasif Mandvi

Cliff Curtis

Dev Patel

Jackson Rathbone

Nicola Peltz

Noah Ringer

Seychelle Gabriel

Shaun Toub

Directed by:

M. Night Shyamalan

Rating: 3/10

US Certificate: PG

One day while wandering around hunting for food amongst the ice and snow near their village, Katara (Nicola Peltz) and her older brother Sokka (Jackson Rathbone) discover a boy frozen in the ice. Turns out this boy is Aang (Noah Ringer), the last Avatar who disappeared 100 years ago. What’s an Avatar? Well, this Avatar has nothing to do with blue creatures living in trees—THIS Avatar is the only person alive in the world with the power to control all the elements—Air, Water, Earth, Fire—and now it’s up to Katara and Sokka to protect Aang from the leaders of the Fire Nation who just want to rule the world.

Now, I’m not a hater when it comes to M. Night Shyamalan. Visually, his films are always interesting, and mock his twists if you will (and they do get kind of silly sometimes), he’s always been a storyteller at heart. That’s why I was surprised to see his name as the only credited writer of this odd jumble of a movie—by the end, I was wishing for a twist, even if it did have to do with angry plants or alien-killing water.

There’s just nothing about this movie that validates its existence. Bad acting, bad plot, horrible choppy story editing, and even effects that aren’t on par with some of the lower budgeted horror films of which I’m so fond combine into a swirling concoction of dull set-up for a second movie that holds absolutely no promise. Poor Jackson Rathbone, a very good actor, somehow wound up with parts in two stupendously bad films in one weekend (though I’m sure he box office take of last weekend helped—and Twilight was actually way better than this mess), but nobody else connected gets a pass. Love him or hate him, nothing here feels like Shyamalan; the entire film feels like a very long and overblown Prologue, with no real character development or interesting conflict.  Oh and what happened to Dev Patel? He was so good in Slumdog Millionaire. But here, just—no. Here, he’s all weirdly melodramatic anger and furrowed brow, and though he does present a character whose daddy issues and family banishment might have been intriguing, in his hands, and with this script, any potential in that little scenario is quickly lost. Maybe the show on Nickelodeon is better. Maybe Shyamalan was so disconcerted that he couldn’t use the word Avatar in his title that he was rendered unable to write even the most basic of stories, nor could he direct what he did come up with. Who knows, really, why this film had to be made, but let’s hope the movie gods will keep a second one at bay.

It's Got: Bad acting, No consistency, Less than stellar effects

It Needs: Better acting, More consistency, Better effects

Alternatives:

Stardust, The Golden Compass, Willow

Summary

The worst part of this overdone snooze fest is that it’s all a set-up for another movie.

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