"Dreams feel real while we're in them. It's only when we wake up that we realize something was actually strange." -Inception

Monday, November 8, 2010

Movie Review: The Last Airbender

Well, I was waiting to see this film despite all the negative buzz that surrounded the movie all throughout the making of and after the release of the film.  The Last Airbender was originally called Avatar: The Last Airbender and had to change its name to avoid confusion with James Cameron's Avatar.  Both films don't have much in common though M. Night Shyamalan must have surely wished for his film to achieve the same success as Avatar.  Sadly, this film was a flop and the next sequels are in doubt to be made even though Shyamalan says he has the script ready.  Good luck with that!  It's hard to see a filmmaker who enjoyed such early success with films like Wide Awake, The Sixth Sense and Signs struggling so much now.  He's got to find his groove back.

That being said, The Last Airbender is not a terrible film, it's just shoddy.  I'm glad that I didn't watch it in 3D which the critics and audiences alike ripped apart to shreds.  The story is intriguing, about a young boy Aang (Noah Ringer) who is the last of the Airbenders.  He has been trapped in a ball of ice for a hundred years during which the Fire Nation takes over and oppresses the Earth and Water Nations already having wiped out the Air Nation.  He  is also the Avatar, an incarnation of the previous Avatars that can bend all four elements, air, water, earth and fire.  He befriends Sokka (Jackson Rathborne) and Katara (Nicola Pietz) from the Water tribe and with their help begins a rebellion against the Fire Nation.  On his trail is Prince Zuko (Dev Patel), a banished prince from the Fire Nation, who believes that capturing the Avatar is the way back to his father's kingdom.   The movie is also a bit of journey for Aang who must come to terms with his destiny and learn to bend the elements to save and protect the people.

The weak point of the film is that it takes too much time for the film to get started and once you are finally involved in the story and want to see more, it suddenly ends.  I understand that Shyamalan planned this as a  trilogy but the ending leaves too many unresolved issues for me.  I do want to see more but I will probably have to catch up on the Avatar series that came on Nickelodeon.  The visual effects done by ILM were also sadly lacking and looked a bit weak.  The whole casting controversy didn't really affect my viewing of the film, sometimes it's just better to cast people who fit the role rather than merely look the role.  Maybe the hardcore fans feel a bit different, I'm not really sure.  So, while I had great expectations for this film, I'm ending up feeling with a lot of what could have been.  Until the meantime, I'm looking forward to M. Night Shyamalan's next film.  I'm not giving on up on him just yet.

Directed and Writen by M. Night Shyamalan; Cinematography by Andrew Lesnie; Music by James Newton Howard; Editing by Conrad Buff

Additional cast: Shaun Toub, Aasif Mandvi, Cliff Curtis, Seychelle Gabriel, Damon Gupton, Summer Bishil


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