Tuesday, July 06, 2010

‘The Last Airbender’ – Please let it be the last one!

Didn’t M. Night Shyamalan once make a good movie that actually shook the film making community? Wasn’t he once a filmmaker of relevance? Oh yes, wait a second – he was…in 1999! M. Night! Wake up! You have not made a decent movie since ‘The Sixth Sense’! At what point does Hollywood stop letting him cash in those chips and start expecting him to actually produce some quality work? Apparently not yet! I will give him credit though, as a film maker who always wants to stand out from the crowd – he does stand out for making constantly bad films! And I wanted this one to work so badly! As the comic book geek that I am – ‘The Last Airbender’ is based on the wildly popular Japanese anime series ‘Avatar: The Last Airbender’ (thanks to James Cameron for having to change the title!) – so I wanted this film to be a success.

But….THEY COULDN’T EVEN GET THE CHARACTERS NAMES RIGHT! Holy cow! That is probably the easiest part of any movie! Do your research fellas! Go on any fan board! Heck! WATCH THE CARTOON! You would have seen how to pronounce the name of the main character! Nope – all M. Night seemed to do is place his very young and untalented cast in front of some (cool I will give him that) blue screen effects and some cue cards. To say the dialogue was lacking any emotion would be kind. To say the story was anything but deathly boring and utterly confusing would be kind as well; even the fight scenes were boring and comical.

Young Aang (Noah Ringer), who was frozen in ice for nearly one hundred years is defrosted in time to save the world from the Fire Nation (the other nations: Water, Air and Earth have been slowly enslaved by Fire). There are some among the various Nations that can control each nation’s native elements – these are called Airbenders, Earthbenders, Waterbenders and Firebenders (get it?). Aang is the ‘Avatar’ – the one with the ability to bend all of the elements (although he has not fully learned this yet). The plot is pointless and tiring. From the opening sequence you are crying for the end credits. You can tell the Fire Nation people are evil because they are brown (I am hoping the actors who signed on for these parts are opting out of the eventual sequel); Dev Patel (terrific in Slumdog Millionaire), Cliff Curtis (excellent in 10,000 BC) and Aasif Mandvi (so funny in The Daily Show). Naturally, all of the good guys, like Aang, are white. Very surprisingly, M. Night also wrote the script. By the way – they are trying to hook you into seeing this piece of garbage in 3D – run away from that total waste of money!

There is not enough material here to even make fun of this film – that is saying a lot. So why waste another inch of print on this pointless piece of celluloid. Another Zero star effort. I am holding out hope that the summer can recover with ‘The Other Guys’ on the horizon and ‘Inception’ in the coming weeks!

For now – you might want to wander over to Redbox and check out the 3 star effort ‘Brooklyn’s Finest’ – with a fantastic ensemble cast that includes Ethan Hawk, Richard Gere, Wesley Snipes and Don Cheadle – this police drama ala ‘Crash’ could have been just a bit better but was powerful none the less and is deserving the $1.00 you put into the magic slot at Redbox!

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