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8/18/10

THE LAST AIRBENDER - REVIEW


Climbing back up the hill after cult classic cinematic catastrophe The Happening was always going to be a tough one. With The Last Airbender, Shyamalan takes a small step in the right direction but still falters on so many levels making this last effort better than his Mark Wahlberg turkey but just about.

M Night Shyamalan's de-evolution as a filmmaker could be traced back to when he really became Shyamalan the "auteur" with Lady in the Water. The latter had its merits and was wrongfully underrated upon release but it was flawed, clunky and uneven like no other Shyamalan film had been before. Even a lesser effort like Signs felt focused and acutely paced and executed compared to it. One can only conclude that M Night is just not a good screenwriter. The naivity and annoyingly juvenile undertones of his ideas just fly through his script pages like concords cancelling all senses of danger, suspense or darkness from the finished material. A horror film like The Happening then becomes a hilarious comedy and an epic action fantasy like The Last Airbender becomes a messy mash-up of loads of Season 1 episodes from a far better cartoon.

Visually though, as always, M Night Shyamalan more or less gets it right. He brings the world of Avatar to life beautifully and the battles are great to look at, especially in 3D. Sadly, this is all I can say in terms of positive points when it comes to Last Airbender. Even the pacing of the action scenes is all over the place and some effects work much less than others. This is a film kids will love and, of course, that's the main thing as it is a kids film. Kids won't notice the horrendous acting, the laughable dialogs, the clunky transitions, the inappropriate episodic feel, the rushed direction etc. They'll see a cool flying monster, cool fire, water, ice and wind effects and lap it up.

So, by all means, take your kids to see The Last Airbender but don't expect a genuinely good film and try to stop sniggering everytime someone is reffered to as a "bender" or a genuine emotion is attempted or everytime a line similar to this comes along:

"Lets do this"

"Yes. Lets"

or

"It is important to do that"

"Yes. It is."

"Will you do it?"

"Yes. I will"

"Good. I am glad."

"I will go now."

"I see."

So yeah, not great but there are worse films out there and at the very least it looks pretty good. M Night Shyamalan badly needs a new agent or producer to kick his ass into shape though.

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