The Last Airbender: Movie Review
The Last Airbender
Rating: See below
Cast: Noah Ringer, Nicola Peltz, Dev Patel, Jackson
Rathbone, Cliff Curtis
Director: M Night Shyamalan
Based on the phenomenally popular cartoon series of the (relatively) same
name, The Last Airbender is the tale of Aang (Ringer), a mystical spiritual
child who, in a far off land, holds the magical ability to use the elements and
keep the balance of the world together.
But Aang has been missing for years and consequently the Fire Lord nation
(who use Fire to subjugate all) has taken over the world - and driven out those
who could use the elements such as air, water and earth against them.
However, Aang is found by Katara (Peltz) a teen who has water bending
abilities - and when her grandmother tells her that Aang holds the key to the
safety of the entire world, she pledges to protect him against the wrath of the
Fire Lords who would destroy him and disgraced Fire Lord Prince Zuko (Patel) who
has to return to his kingdom with the last airbender to restore his honour and
regain his rightful place in the nation and his father's (Cliff Curtis)
I'm not particularly au fait with the source material here - so I grabbed a
couple of rabid fans of the series (and their long-suffering mum) to get their
take on it.
Jackson, who's 11 gave it 8/10 but said it was "nowhere near
as good at the series but still really good". He felt there was "too much
mucking around when the air and fire bending is going on" - there are copious
scenes of the main characters doing Tai Chi to help bend the elements and use
their powers. Overall, he felt it was "worth seeing and the acting was good -
even if it went through the episodes (of the Avatar series) too fast."
Connor, who's 17, gave it 5/10, because he felt the "film
tried to condense an entire season into one single movie and it wasn't a very
good fit. It also included dozens of plot points into the one movie and people
who hadn't seen Avatar may be confused about that." He also found the film a
little dry and stuffy, saying "It had none of the humour of the series, and some
of the acting was not particularly good. The Aang character is way more fun in
the cartoon, he's more of a boy with a wayward personality. Because Avatar is in
cartoon form the characters are able to be more fluid and the film missed that
with the moves." However, he felt "it did pick up around the end."
To this critic's eye, there's some awful dialogue and wooden acting here and
there - but genre fans will know this kind of thing comes with these films (Star
Wars clunkers anyone?). There's some stunning scenery, but the 3D element of
this film adds very little to it, and is wasted in some places. I'm inclined to
agree with Connor that some of the main performances are a little off-key -
coupled with some clunking dialogue - eg "It is in the heart that all wars are
won" particularly from Noah Ringer. The lead isn't quite strong enough to pull
it off - maybe he'll improve as, and indeed if, the series continues.
The bottom line here is that with school holidays bashing on the door, this
will be a firm crowd favourite to the multitude of fans of the series - but it's
questionable whether it'll have the wider appeal it needs to be a major
Final rating - based on the kids - 6/10