The Last Airbender

I have watched this movie once. This was on .


The story follows the adventures of Aang, a young successor to a long line of Avatars, who must put his childhood ways aside and stop the Fire Nation from enslaving the Water, Earth and Air nations.

Four nations, one destiny

The Last Airbender


The Last Airbender is the latest movie by director M. Night Shyamalan, an adaptation of the critically acclaimed American animated television series. The story revolves around the four elements; Earth, Fire, Water and Wind. A fantasy story in which people can control or "bend" these elements and follows a pair from a water tribe as they escort The Avatar - a person who can control all of the elements and helps keeps the peace - as he tries to understand his important destiny as well as stopping the Fire tribe from destroying all the others.

Many people were surprised after a good trailer, but others were calling on it’s demise for two reasons. Firstly, there has been some discontent towards Shyamalan himself, something which I find quite unnecessary. The second issue was because adaptation didn’t stay true to the ethnicity's of the original comic book characters and because the heart of the story is about embracing different nations. These two problems shouldn’t affect the movie and there are many other issues which do.

A disclaimer: the fantasy genre isn’t my favourite type of movie, but this wasn’t the problem I had with this movie. Also, I didn’t bother watching this movie in 3D.

The acting is terrible for the majority of the cast, specifically the Sokka, played by Jackson Rathbone, although the characterisation, dialogue and direction may have been at fault for many of the performances. Dev Patel, who played the protagonist in Danny Boyle’s Oscar winning Slumdog Millionaire, plays the villain – the exiled prince Zuko – in the movie. In most of his scenes he comes across as a caricature of villain, instead of a villain itself, even comedic in places. Only Shaun Toub, who played Zuko’s uncle – Iroh, added a sense of depth to his character and his acting throughout was solid. Aang, the titular airbender and Avatar, played by thirteen year-old Noah Ringer, had a tough job with the complex character and poor dialogue but he wasn’t the worst performer.

Along with the acting, the dialogue is consistently poor throughout. Like in Shyamalan’s previous movies, some of the dialogue is delivered with a definite dry sense of humour. However, the direction with this type of dialogue can be very difficult, especially with the genre it is set, and like his last movie – The Happening – it failed miserably.

Finally, the story, set against a mythical world is shallow and incomplete. Many of the scenes feel childish, others comical and some quite dark, such as those with the exiled prince. The main issue with the story is the lack of conclusion. The characters may have won the battle, but not the war, and there are no resolution for the prince nor the Avatar in learning his missing skills. The end is clearly set up for a sequel, something which Hollywood seems to enjoy doing and that I really dislike, but the critically panned maybe face an upward struggle to justify the investment in the continuation of the franchise.

Unlike successful adaptations, such as Sin City and (potentially) the upcoming Scott Pilgrim, these are movies which make me want to seek out the source material. On the contrary, M. Night Shyamalan’s “The Last Airbender” has had the opposite affect and I have no inclination to watch the much beloved television series.