Jul 062010
 
Authors: Jason Berlinberg

When I first heard that director M. Night Shyamalan was creating a live action version of the Nickelodeon TV series “Avatar: The Last Airbender,” I couldn’t help but chuckle.

Shyamalan’s career has been going downhill for nearly a decade, releasing worse movies each time he decides to grace us with his directorial genius. For him to stake his legitimacy as a skilled director on a film that’s guided toward teens and children is an extremely big risk to take.

So how does his latest movie stack up against his previous efforts?

Not only is “The Last Airbender” Shyamalan’s worst film to date, it is also one of the worst movies I have ever seen.

The source material for this film was pretty good. Taken straight from the widely popular animated series, the story follows a boy named Aang on his quest to save the world.

Aang is the Avatar, meaning he’s able to harness the powers of all the elements –– air, water, earth and fire –– and is a guiding light for all of humankind. He also has the power to turn blue. (Did James Cameron steal that idea for his movie too?)

At the beginning of this 103-minute debacle, Aang is found in a frozen ball of ice by siblings Sokka and Katara of the water tribe. The rest of the story is a blur to me, other than the fact that the characters run off to save the world from the oppressive fire nation because “it is their destiny,” –– whatever that means.

In terms of execution, Shyamalan should never have allowed this movie to be finalized and released to see the light of day.

His bad directing is backed up by his own choppy script that is filled with laughable dialogue stiffly delivered by his helpless actors.

In preparation for “The Last Airbender”, I re-watched Shyamalan’s most highly regarded film, “The Sixth Sense.” The differences between the two movies are astounding.

“The Sixth Sense” has feeling and a satisfying sense of intrigue that allows a connection to the overall story and characters. Meanwhile, “The Last Airbender” is like a fish out of water, frantically flopping around trying to save itself. But it can’t.

Fans of the animated series should stay clear of this one, unless constant mispronunciations of names and the lack of anything good from the TV show sound appealing. Worst of all, this movie was only Book 1 of a trilogy, so there’s bound to be more agony to come in the future.

Shyamalan had this movie served up to him on a silver platter. He had all the tools to make a great adaptation of the animated series and kick-start his own venture into big budget action films.
Instead, he created an unwatchable movie to add to his collection of letdowns and may have single-handedly ended his career as a filmmaker in the process.

Movie reviewer Jason Berlinberg can be reached at entertainment@collegian.com.

Coming up next:

“Predators”

Producer Robert Rodriguez (“Sin City”) has stated that there will be no holding back in this revamp of the franchise. Expect a bloody good time.

 Posted by at 5:15 pm

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