REVIEW: ‘The Last Airbender

Director:
M. Night Shyamalan
Cast:
Noah Ringer
Dev Patel
Nicola Peltz
Jackson Rathbone
Shaun Toub
Rated: PG

So this year’s Dragon Ball Evolution has shown up.

The story does take the basic premise of the animated series’ first season, setting up four nations of the world represented by people who can bend certain elements. These include water, earth, fire and air. The film takes place in the midst of a massive war with the Fire Nation seeking domination over the three others.

To combat the threat, people are hopeful that an Avatar, who can control all four elements, can return to bring peace. The movie picks up with two siblings from the Water Tribe who discover the latest Avatar, Aang (Ringer), who also happens to be the only remaining airbender. From there, the siblings decide to help Aang realize his destiny. However, they are constantly chased by the Fire Nation’s prince.

While this does sound similar to the animated series, though, the movie completely messes up the actual lore. In this adaption, multiple important characters are omitted and characters in the film are shadows of their animated counterparts.

This isn’t just a fan talking about the movie either. In terms of storytelling as just a fantasy, the film feels less like an adventure and more just some characters meandering from point A to point B. The film barely develops characters before cutting the scene.

The worst part is how the characters are portrayed. Not only is the acting from the lead trio less than stellar, the characters themselves are also poorly written. Aang, who in the series was a fun loving optimist who also understood the enormity of his duty seemed to just mope around most of the movie.

The same can be said about the character Sokka. Once again, in the show, Sokka is a comic relief character who also serves as a loyal friend and at times a leader. It’s a 180 in the film. Here, Sokka is completely stiff, hardly even making a try at delivering comedy or building a friendship with Aang.

The only characters who were portrayed with some level of respectability was the prince, Zuko, and his uncle, Iroh.

The dialogue in the movie was also very weak. It was either meaningless, emotionless back and forth between the characters or purely exposition.

Visually, the movie is more miss than hit. While modern movie effects do successfully bring the ‘bending’ to the screen, it’s never really brought to life. The martial arts aspects were present, but it took so many moves and so much time for any bending to happen that the action was slow and unexciting.

Additionally, the filmmakers made poor decisions, such as not letting the fire benders utilize their ability unless fire was around, once again not like the show. There’s another scene where earthbenders refuse to revolt even though they’re in a valley with earth.

“Last Airbender” is truly one of the worst adaptions. It’s understandable that this would be tough, since there was so much material in the first season of the show alone. However, it’s as if the makers of this picture didn’t even watch the show in the first place because of how many differences there were.

Even forgetting about the adaption aspect, though, this movie still fails. The acting was sub par for the majority of the roles, especially the three leads and the story was poorly executed. 0.5 out of 5.

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Author: Matthew Liedke

My name is Matthew Liedke. I'm a reporter for the Bemidji Pioneer in Minnesota, but I also have a passion for the art of film. This passion led me to start writing about film in 2008. From 2008-2016 I wrote pieces at my own website, After the Movie Reviews. Then, from 2016-May 2018, my write-ups were featured on AreaVoices, a blog network run by Forum Communications Company. Today, I now write film reviews and other pieces here on Word Press. More about me: I'm a 2012 graduate of Minnesota State University Moorhead where I studied journalism and film. Outside of film, I enjoy sports, video games, anime and craft beers.

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