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Thursday, July 8, 2010 04:41 am

The Last Airbender is a disaster

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I’ve said for quite some time that director M. Night Shyamalan needs to do something completely different to break out of his slump. The bad patch hit by the filmmaker responsible for The Sixth Sense, Unbreakable, and Signs, has put his career in jeopardy. The Lady in the Water and The Happening were truly misguided features that failed to pay off in the director’s trademark manner. His suspense formula had worn thin and I thought, “What if he were to do a western or a musical? That would throw everyone off and maybe recharge his batteries.”

Alas, M. did not listen to me and opted to adapt a cartoon made popular on Nickelodeon. The result, The Last Airbender, is the low point (so far) of his career, a film that fails to generate any sense of engagement, excitement or entertainment. The film deals with a child messiah, Aang (Noah Ringer), who’s been found frozen in the ice after being gone for a century and finds himself in the middle of a devastating war. Seems the Fire Nation is out to take over the Water, Earth and Air nations and it’s up to Aang to stop them. Having the ability to master the winds, he must learn to control the other three elements, so that he can end the bloodshed.

Where do I begin with how bad this film is? The special effects are amateurish and unconvincing (fire where no one gets burned, anyone?), the cast, while talented, is hobbled by the script which consists of emphatic phrases (“What now?”) rather than real conversation, the story is predictable and, worst of all, the film is just flat. There’s a blandness to every aspect of this production that makes it deathly dull and a chore to sit through. A disaster at every turn, The Last Airbender, is proof that Shyamalan’s next move should be to take a couple of years off. Better for him and better for filmgoers everywhere.

Contact Chuck Koplinski at ckoplinski@usd116.org.

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