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Carl the Critic Talks about "The Last Airbender"
"The Last Airbender" Trailer
Carl the Critic Talks about "The Last Airbender"
If you are like me and are a huge fan of the T.V. series "Avatar: the Last Airbender," how excited were you to know that a movie directed by M. Night Shamalan would be based on the show? Neither was I, the point that killed it for me was M. Night Shamalan. No offense to the guy, who made one of the greatest movies ever made ("Sixth Sense") but these current years are not the best for him, his last good film was "The Village," which had one of the most disappointing plot twists in cinema history.
But for now let's focus less on M. Night Shamalan and discuss the actual movie "The Last Airbender," (specifically why it was so bad .) The movie is suppose to be like the original funny kids show about a boy named Aang and how he is destined to save the world. Aang is an avatar who has to learn to master controlling the four elements of the world; water, earth, fire, and air. The T.V. show had the advantage of being structured episodically, meaning that the main story of Aang was broken down into smaller stories that would show how Aang comes to be the master of all four elements. In addition to that, the T.V. show had very clever dialogue, brilliant characters, well thought out plot twists, and the animation was very fluid and well done (considering the fact that it was done by Nickelodeon.)
As if M. Night Shamalan felt that he wanted to be original, he did the complete opposite of what made the T.V. show good in order to make the movie bad. Aang in the T.V. show was a boy, a child, more importantly he acts like a child would in that he likes to play, dance, and since he is a pre-teen, he is starting to become interested in the opposite sex. In the film not only was Aang a one dimensional, jarring, and boring, every character in the film was like that (with the exception of Prince Zuko but he is was only two dimensional, which was not that big of a deal.) In the T.V. show, the dialogue was dynamic, and cleaver, but in the movie there was not one moment of spoken dialogue that didn't make the characters look like idiots. In one scene, Katara and Sokka, the two kids that found Aang in the iceberg, talk to their grandmother about "the spirit world," and Katara with an expression that resembles a cow on the railroad tracks asks "What is a spirit world Grandma?" The Grandmother responds with "Well, it certainly is not a place of things we can touch but it exists non-the-less." At this point I felt like missed something, because the Grandmother did not answer Katara's question, and in fact the rest of her dialogue did not make any sense what so ever. In addition to the horrible dialogue, the action's in the film were not comprehensible, in the opening shot, we see Katara making a gigantic water ball only to drop it on Sokka's head for no rational reason. I assume this is where the humor was suppose to be, but in reality it was not that funny it was just stupid and irrational.
Another major problem with the film was its story structure, it was not meandering, branching, spiral, book-end, cyclical, or even linear. It was EXPLOSIVE! You see theoretically there is a structure that says you can have an idea be connected by an assortment of random and pointless scenes that do not progress the film's story, and this is was exactly what it was. If you are a film maker who plans to make experimental films this is what you should be aiming for but for a feature length film this just shows that the writing is disorganized to the point that makes the viewer wonder "Did anyone watch this before it was released in theaters?"
On a positive note there was some brilliant cinematography of some scenes, and the music by James Newton Howard was very well composed, but too bad that they are not noticeable amongst the writing, sound, acting, and editing which made this movie feel campy and crappy.
Finally the last thing that I will mention that probably had influence on the film was that it is a very egotistic film. It is a movie that thinks that just because the T.V. show has a big fan base, it too will be very popular, and M. Night Shamalan made the film with the intention of directing "The Last Airbender 2" and "The Last Airbender 3." But the producers at Nickelodeon have put the next two films movie on hold, mainly because of the fear that they will be flops (and if M. Night Shamalan directs them, they certainly will.) I personally have nothing against M. Night Shamalan, but at this point if he doesn't make a movie that is as good as "The Sixth Sense," his reputation will surly be ruined.
"Avatar: The Last Air Bender"
In case you want to remind yourself how good the original T.V. show was