The Last Airbender
Director: M. Night Shyamalan
Stars: Noah Ringer, Nicola Peltz, Dev Patel
At least M. Night Shyamalan finally tried something new.
The Sixth Sense director — dedicated to twist endings and subtle chills — has ventured out of his comfort zone for The Last Airbender, based on the popular anime-influenced Nickelodeon series Avatar.
He’s going for Star Wars-style childish thrills, but unfortunately his movie is weighed down by measured pacing and unrelenting seriousness.
These qualities worked well in his early thrillers, but suck the life out of this cartoon adventure.
It’s like watching Al Gore struggling through a comedy routine, but without the unintentional laughs.
The film is set in a world divided into four factions based on their ability to control, or “bend,” one of the four elements (air, earth, fire, and water).
A unifying figure known as The Avatar used to exist who could control all of the elements and united the world in peace. Unfortunately he’s been missing for years and the fire tribe now controls the world with a flaming fist.
That is until a young water bender and her brother discover a small child frozen in the ice who just might be the long lost Avatar.
It’s a complicated and intriguing mythology, but sadly the film tries to cram 20 television episodes worth of material into 100 minutes. As a result, every non-action scene is dedicated to exposition with no time for characterization, homour, or a satisfying story structure.
Shyamalan is a talented director and has the money and resources to craft some impressive sequences, but is simply the wrong choice for this material. He has always been an overrated writer, and he has managed to turn a fast-paced animated series into an epic on-screen bore.