“The Last Airbender” Review

"The Last Airbender" -- Image via Wikipedia

“The Last Airbender” opened in theaters in both 2D and 3D on July 1, 2010. The film stars Dev Patel (“Slumdog Millionaire”), Jackson Rathbone (“Twilight”), and Noah Ringer as Aang (aka the last airbender). “The Last Airbender” is based on the anime series that aired in U.S. on Nickelodeon.

I never saw the Nickelodeon series but I knew a little about the story before seeing the film, so I saw the film with no real expectations.  The film was directed by Academy Award nominee M. Night Shyalaman, whom has not really garnered much critical praise since “The Sixth Sense”.

Fans of the animated series may dislike the film, from what I’ve read on Twitter and other film reviews, but it was not that bad of a film.  Of course since I haven’t seen the animated series prior, I had nothing to compare it to so perhaps that was an advantage.  This film sort of reminded of “Dragonball: Evolution” which was also an anime series to film adaptation.  Was “Dragonball: Evolution” a great film?  No, but was it somewhat entertaining?  Yes, I believe so considering the audience they were targeting.

In my opinion, “The Last Airbender” was a little better in entertainment value than “Dragonball: Evolution” but it was far from being a great film.  It just fit the criteria of what a summer movie flick should be.  Fun, entertaining, and considering the rage this year…it was in 3D.


What worked?
I found the story quite interesting. In a world where special individuals have powers to control the elements: Air, Water, Earth, and Fire – only those who have the power to bend air has the chance to be the Avatar. The Avatar is someone who has the power to control all the elements. Aang (Noah Ringer) who is the last airbender (as all other airbenders were killed by the Fire Nation) and happens to be the Avatar; ran away before he had a chance to master all of the elements so now he is on a quest to seek out other element masters so that he can complete his training. The Fire Nation wishes to rule all but what stands in their way is the Avatar so they are on a mission to capture the Avatar and prevent him from mastering the other elements. This film focuses on Water, which is the first element that Aang tries to master.

What didn’t work?
Although the actors and actresses looked the part, their acting skills were a little juvenile. In this film it seems they were trying to depend on actions speaking louder than words, but sometimes actions are not enough. Think Lance Bass in “On the Line” or Hayden Christensen in “Star Wars: Attack of the Clones”. The dialog at times was kind of lame in the sense that what was suppose to garner an emotional response – just fell a little flat. Also, the 3D aspect was added after the fact. The film originally was not suppose to be in 3D so the effects weren’t as good as expected.

Final Thoughts:
Despite some of its shortcomings, the film in general was entertaining. If you look past some of the ridiculous moments of acting, the film was fun and if you’re looking for a film that is not too serious…this is probably a good pick. This film is a C in my book as it was average.


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