3 sept. 2010

My Review: The Last Airbender (5/10)

¨ He will begin to change hearts, and it is in the heart that all wars are won. ¨

This is the first film that M. Night Shyamalan directs an adapted screenplay since his earlier works have all been original screenplays written by him. I am probably one of the few Shyamalan fans left. I was a huge fan of his earlier movies; The Sixth Sense is one of my favorite films, I also loved Unbreakable and Signs. I even enjoyed his much criticized films: The Village, Lady in the Water, and The Happening, but I can`t save him this time with his latest movie: The Last Airbender. He adapted the screenplay from the successful Nickelodeon anime series titled Avatar: The Last Airbender. I personally never saw the series, but I know it has a lot of fans and that it consists of three seasons (there are three books: Water, Earth, and Fire). I can only judge this film based on Shyamalan`s screenplay since I know very little about the series, but from what I saw from the movie I am guessing it didn`t translate very well into the big screen. The main actors were totally miscast, the transitions from scene to scene felt forced, the screenplay was very poorly written, and the characters were one dimensional. Between the bad actors and the poor script the movie failed to entertain, but I didn`t hate it as much as most critics did. I don`t think it is among the worst movies of the year, although I am not saying it is good either. The Last Airbender is Shyamalan`s worst movie and the first that I actually found rotten. I still believe he will rebound from this, my faith isn`t lost in him.

Katara (Nicola Peltz) and Sokka (Jackson Rathbone) are brothers from the Southern Water tribe. Katara is a water bender and she discovers a giant frozen sphere outside of her village and decides to melt the ice. She accidently discovers that there was a boy who has been frozen in that sphere. The boy tells Katara that his name is Aang (Noah Ringer) and supposedly an Avatar, the last of the Airbenders. This avatar has been missing for a hundred years and during that time the Fire Nation has been dominating the rest of the nations (Earth, Water, and Air). The Avatar was the only one who maintained the balance in the world since it could bend the four elements, but Aang never got to learn how to bend the rest of the elements since he escaped from his training and was frozen for a century. Now the Fire Nation controls most tribes, they have extinguished the Airbenders and don`t allow the water and earth nations to bend their elements.  Whoever is discovered to have bending abilities is imprisoned by Lord Ozai (Cliff Curtis) under Commander Zhao (Aasif Mandvi). Lord Ozai´s son, Prince Zuko (Dev Patel) was expelled from the Fire Nation because he refused to fight with his father in a duel after challenging a Commander`s decision during war. The only way Prince Zuko can regain his honor back is by capturing the Avatar and bringing him back to his father. Zuko is not alone in his quest; he is protected by his uncle Iroh (Shaun Toub). Aang begins to travel with Katara and Sokka setting earth villages free from the Fire nation, beginning rebellions, while heading to the North Water Kingdom where Aang will learn how to master water bending.

The main actors, Nicola Peltz and Jackson Rathbone, are really miscast in this film. I don`t know if it was their acting or the script, but every scene they were in and every line they had to say felt really forced. The first thirty minutes of the film are really terrible, the scenes where Aang and Katara go free the Earth tribes are really poorly executed, and it isn`t until they reach the North Water Kingdom that the movie picks up a little. The best scenes in the film are the ones with Dev Patel and Aasif Mandvi; they have the best dialogue on screen. I really didn`t have any trouble with the special effects, although they aren`t anything out of this world, just your average effects. The score was decent as well and it is the seventh time that Shyamalan has worked with composer James Newton Howard. I don`t know if they will continue to make the next two sequels for The Last Airbender, but if they do they will have to correct a lot of things if they want to keep fans interested (beginning with the acting and the screenplay). This is a bad movie, but not among the worst I´ve seen either. My love for Shyamalan hasn`t died yet and I still think he is a great director although he has lost his touch with his latest work.

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