Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The Last Airbender

"The Last Airbender" (2010) Dir. M. Night Shyamalan

My Synopsis: Start with a perfectly good 3 season Nickelodeon animated series, take all the season one scripts and chop out what you think is the best parts (without watching even 5 minutes of 1 episode), smash it all together into a 2 hour greatest hits package starring relative unknowns and the “Slumdog Millionaire” kid and what do you get? A twist! A twist! Nope, not even that, unless you count the knife being twisted into your back for believing that Shyamalan couldn't mess it up.

Comments: Ok, so it's a lesson I should have learned a long time ago and for some unexplainable reason I always end up buying into the belief that Shyamalan can make a good movie. I mean “The Sixth Sense” wasn't horrible and “Unbreakable” was actually pretty entertaining. “Signs” had great promise but logic inevitably failed (aliens allergic to water attack a planet full of water to harvest people – made of water), “The Village” was almost a successful period piece (if the period was now and the village were a commune, “Lady in the Water” and “The Happening” well, had nothing happening. But I digress, this was supposed to be about Avatar. No wait, “The Last Airbender.” Avatar was a scifi remake of “Dances with Wolves” while “The Last Airbender” was the murdering of a kids TV show. You know where I think Shyamalan went wrong? He quit asking Bruce Willis to be in his movies.

Anyway, so I fell for it again in the hopes that if given a beloved concept that already came with ready made scripts than M. Night couldn't mess it up. I was wrong. I'll get the good stuff out of the way first since there was so little of it. Noah Ringer was without a doubt the perfect Aang. He looked, sounded, and moved exactly like his animated alter ego. There is no doubt he's done his research. Nicola Peltz was a reasonable Katara. Apa was very big and Momo was interesting. Now on to the crap...

Mr. Shamalama, his name is Aang (long A + ng, not Ahng, watch the show, listen, oh wait, someone didn't do his homework)! Sokka is supposed to be comic relief. He was not funny at all. Every character, for the most part, can be associated with a race of people. In the animated series many of them were Asian so I can see a need to delineate. But the Fire Nation is Chinese! That much is pretty well written by their names and way that they speak, traditions, etc. I wouldn't expect an Irish director to make them Irish I will not accept an Indian making them Indian. I'm sorry if the bad guys are Chinese, it has nothing to with politics or personal preferences. It's just that they fit the characteristics.

This is where I get to pretend I don't know the real story this movie is supposed to be telling and treat it as if I were just any person walking into this movie without a preconceived idea of what it is about. Guess what, 103 minutes later I still don't know. The story moves so fast and gives so little information all I understand is some kid has to save the world from these fire guys while the fire guys are hunting him down and want to take of the world. Oh! And one of the fire guys hates him but saves him in order to keep hunting him because he has daddy issues. Not to mention there is no real resolution by the end (it is only one of the three seasons) and obviously there are meant to be sequels. Fortunately the movie sucks so bad, with ratings so horrible that the sequels will undoubtedly be killed. Based on what we learned from earlier Shyamalan movies this could have been avoided if he would have just got on hands and knees and begged Bruce Willis to star. Who knows, he might have been a good Aang (Ang not Ahng).

Apparently M. Night has a back up plan though. A new movie about a bunch of people stuck in an elevator and... unknown to all of them, one of them is the Devil. I hope it stars Bruce Willis, he'd make an awesome devil.

From the beasts and I,
'Til next we bleed,
JP Hunt

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