THE LAST AIRBENDER is a disgrace of filmmaking and shames the great series it is based on

Once the final credits started rolling in the darkened theatre…

The music roused after nearly two hours of the most heart-pumping action, drama and suspenseful story told on an epic scale of a long lost prodigal returning to save the world from and era of war…

One impassioned viewer stood tall to voice their powerful words for all to hear…

“SCREW YOU M. NIGHT!”

He shouted throughout the theatre. He was right. M. Night Shyamalan, the once acclaimed director of “The Sixth Sense” now known for his string of creative failures in film such as “Lady in the Water,” tackled for the first time material that he did not come up with, and for a long time we thought it would be good for his career and good for all “Avatar: The Last Airbender” fans of the Nick TV show… that such a “A-list” auteur handling genre work would be good.

Let me explain what happened to get to that powerful phrase.

Water. Earth. Fire. Air. The four elements are representative of a world divided by war. In each element is a country that has learned to manipulate their natural element. Every century or so, one person is able to “bend” all four elements…the avatar. However, one day, the avatar disappeared.

One hundred years later, Katara and Sokka of the water tribe discovered a boy and a large flying bison encased in ice and they all discover that the boy, Aang (Aaahhnng as named in the movie), is the lost avatar who can restore balance to the force… I mean world.

This first installment deals with the discovery of being the avatar and Aang’s quest to begin learning how to bend water, along with Katara whom is also a novice and the challenges they run into on that endeavor. Meanwhile, the prince of the fire nation, Zuko seeks to capture the avatar to regain his honor and his place by the Emperor’s… I mean Fire Lord… um.. Ozai right side… (Thankfully I saw the show because the movie skips a lot of IMPORTANT info).. I could continue but I will not for two reasons.

One, if you saw the first season of “Avatar: The Last Airbender” you will notice that the film disregarded the important elements of that story.

Two, I never saw the first season entirely, however I do know that this movie had story holes larger than BP’s cover story.

Let’s look at the good of this movie. I take it as a learning lesson, as should everyone, of how a movie should not be made. What does happen in action is hit and misses. I did like a simple grappling/hand-to-hand fight between Aaahhnng and Zuko… some of the element bending scenes are not as epic as they should be but in some respects they are passable. The production got the look of everything down so kudos to that art director and set design. OK.. Now more quotes…

“You bitch!! I just wanna kick his ass!”

~ Passionate fan after viewing the film.

Today would not be a good day to be M. Night. With as many episodes for viewing as a direct point of reference and Nickelodeon giving him the green light, you wonder how could this happen the way it happened. From the opening seconds, I knew that this movie would not be what I thought it would be, or should be at least.

First, I thought there was way too much narration. Like I was told about thoughts, actions, feelings… I was told not shown. I could have read a novel but I went to see a movie that wanted to be a novel. Then the writing wasn’t even good. I don’t know who to scorch with my fire-bending first or bury with my earth-bending… the screenwriter (also M. Night), the actors, and the execs of Viacom (they own Nick) for allowing this to happen. I was having moments where I had to tune out from the movie because I was being pandered every important story tick and detail by narration. That’s nice if this is an electronic story book for toddlers. For a movie, I’m under the impression you need to have action to SHOW the story.

The original season of “Avatar: The Last Airbender” had 20 episodes. That’s a lot of material to cover in a single movie. Though in 103 minutes, I witnessed nothing that reminded me of that beloved show. I didn’t feel anything watching the movie to the point where I intentionally nodded off during the second half because I couldn’t change the channel… I mean film reel. I guess you could say, this movie has no heart. It shows because the acting across the board, for all intents and purposes, sucks. It sucks. It sucked like getting a vaccine shot as a kid. It sucked, sucked, sucked. The script was already off and the delivery was even worse.

Speaking of delivery, I was telling my impression of the film to my sister and we talked about the original trailer that featured a hundred ships of the fire nation mounting an epic assault…. That scene or anything like it never occurs. There are a lot of missing elements that make an “epic movie.” Plus, I am now a firm believer that animated shows should not become live movies. They should just invest into a new animated movie with real slick animation to properly display the movie and honor its source material.

Important segments of linking one story event to another are gone. The storyline jumps from place to place and it gets irritating. I feel the movie is missing about an hour of footage and I’ll give it the benefit of the doubt that there will be an extended edition released later in the year or next year, but even then I don’t think it would save the movie quality. Then most of the action scenes fell short, flat or plan uninteresting. In the show, the bending scenes happened quite quickly. In the movie, it’s like watching a ballet and then you see a spark pop… Yeah like that.

So in short, who should see this “movie?”
Are you a fan of “Avatar: The Last Airbender?” You owe it ONE viewing and then proceed to pop in your season 1 DVDs for recovery of faith.
Have you never heard of the show but curious about the movie? If you want to get rid of that person you’re dating quickly, take them to this movie. They’ll consider it an insult and dump you after 10 minutes.

“If I ever meet M. Night in a dark alley, I would probably kill him.”

~ D.R.G.

I wouldn’t kill him… this movie did that for him and his career. I read around about the movie, however they also said Transformers 2 was trash, and I actually liked it. I do know and hope that M. Night is not allowed to be involved with the sequel (Book 2: Earth) in any form or fashion. The sequel will be animated from scratch with a new creative direction. Yeah, then I won’t need to use my water and air skills to create a tsunami on Viacom’s headquarters.

One more thing.  The movie is only THAT bad when you take out the racebending… white actors playing Asian roles… That is a whole ‘nother blog entirely.  Dante Basco, the voice actor of Zuko on “Avatar: The Last Airbender” wrote this great piece about it that puts it in some perspective. Here is a link about it HERE.

Final answer: 
E P I C  F A I L !!!!
Seriously… this movie was the worst I have seen in a long time.  I wish NO ONE ever see it.

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2 thoughts on “THE LAST AIRBENDER is a disgrace of filmmaking and shames the great series it is based on

  1. Well damn! I was all ready for an epic adventure. Knowing nothing about Avatar I thought I was gonna become a fan. Guess I will save this one for the Netflix collection. I JUST SAVED $20.

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