The Last Airbender

If I decided that instead of reviewing The Last Airbender, I would talk about everything that was included within it, would you be upset? If I chose to just describe it instead of saying what I thought worked and didn’t, would you get a good idea of whether or not you should watch it? I have a feeling you’d get bored, which is the same feeling I got after watching The Last Airbender.

It’s not just that it featured a ton of exposition. I can deal with that in an action film, as long as there’s a lot of action. There’s a lot to talk about in this series, which had several seasons on television as an animated show, so I can understand that a lot of things need to be explained. What gets to me is that some of the things that were talked about either served no purpose other than to make current fans reminisce about the television show, while also repeating itself quite frequently about points that weren’t difficult to grasp in the first place.

As a result, the dialogue often comes across as laughable, as characters frequently tell us things that other characters have already explained. As a result, the dialogue often comes across as laughable, as characters frequently tell us things that other characters have already explained. See, it’s annoying, isn’t it? But when I got to hear that the Fire Nation had machines a few times, I got tired. Especially because those machines seemed redundant, nor are they ever actually used in the way that they’re hyped.

The plot begins with a “Waterbender” — someone who can control water — and her brother finding a block of ice containing a person. Her name is Katara (Nicola Peltz), and her brother is called Sokka (Jackson Rathbone). The ice block breaks open, and inside is a young man named Aang (Noah Ringer). He’s an “Airbender,” and if you guessed by the name, he can control air. They take him back to their village, and eventually discover that he’s the Avatar, someone who can learn to control all of the elements: Earth, Air, Water and Fire.

The final of these elements serves as the evil one, as they want to eliminate all of the others. They’ve already succeeded in wiping out the Airbenders — most of them, anyway — and are currently focusing on the Earth and Water benders. Aang, Katara and Sokka embark on a journey to stop the Fire Nation from accomplishing their goal, and they believe they can do it because they have the Avatar, despite him currently only being able to alter how the air movies.

Along the way, two things happen. The first is the aforementioned exposition, which encompasses at least 90% of the dialogue that comes from the characters. There’s even the occasional voice over because not all of the information could be squeezed in when characters had the chance to talk with one another. The other thing we get are a great deal of action scenes which can only be described as CGI-fests.

To be fair, though, the CGI is about as good as you’re going to get when these scenes consist primarily of random elements being thrown against one another. The action scenes actually come close to working, except for the fact that the actors look silly when the fights are going on. They have to perform awkward-looking dances in order for their powers to look, and I couldn’t help but laugh whenever they had to do this. Sometimes though, this doesn’t happen for whatever reason, and these moments are a lot of fun.

Unfortunately, they’re the only fun that’s to be had with The Last Airbender. Nothing else is enjoyable, and in an action film, that’s unacceptable. I’m glad that, at the very least, some of the action scenes worked and the visuals were often nice to look at. But having none of the characters speak in sentences that we could relate to, filling your film with unnecessary exposition and being overall fairly boring us inexcusable.

Maybe those more familiar with the television show will understand it more. They’ll get why we need all of that exposition, and they’re realize that all of what we’re being told is important. But I have a feeling that they’ll also hate the changes made, the casting, how condensed everything feels, and the way that nothing flows properly. We move from point to point whenever characters get bored, not because the story tells us that they should move on.

I’m not sure who to blame for the performances. It’s possible that the actors themselves are just untalented, or maybe they just weren’t given solid direction. Everyone is simply bland, with there being no emotion to their character, nor is there any personality. They’re simply entities designed to fight and tell us why they’re fighting — nothing more. Characters blankly state into the other person’s eyes, hoping that their co-star will make them smile or laugh with a funny face, but even that is just a fool’s hope.

The Last Airbender isn’t a complete waste, but it’s not all that entertaining or a worthwhile watch. It has moments when it’s fun, like when action scenes occur where the actors don’t have to dance awkwardly, but apart from those and the occasional breathtaking visuals, there’s nothing to like. The dialogue is almost all exposition, the characters are lifeless, and the story doesn’t give us much reason to care, even if the dialogue makes it seem like such a reason is there. I was bored too often, and I wanted someone to just win so that the film would end. The victor didn’t matter anymore.

One thought on “The Last Airbender

  1. The Last Airbender is impressive in just how lifeless it is. Even if the dialogue is meandering and meaningless, the fights are directed in the most empty, inert way. It’s obvious Shyamalan had never shot a fight scene before, and tried to do it in a way that was completely unethical to creating tension. Lame, lame movie.

    Danny

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