(Hopefully) The Last Airbender

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a movie review of the last airbender.

Submitted: June 15, 2017

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Submitted: June 15, 2017



(Hopefully) The Last Airbender

The Last Airbender Movie Review

By Emily Sloan


There have been moments in my life where I could actually feel a piece of my soul shrivel up and die. Getting my first F, moving to Port Alberni, waking up at three in the morning for a band trip. However, none of that can compare with the beating my soul took the day I made the horrible mistake of watching the atrocity that is The Last Airbender. If you have to wonder for any length of time what is wrong with this movie, you are either a lucky person that has never seen this abomination, or you’re someone who has, and actually fainted from the sheer crapiness that exudes from this movie like cartoon stink lines. Because there’s a lot that’s wrong in this movie. A lot. Like storyline, casting, acting, and editing. The list, unlike Shyamalan’s career, goes on.

If you have been unfortunate enough to have been subjected to this movie, you know that the screenplay is total shit. Some of you may have questioned just how exactly this movie was even approved. Like, seriously, was this Shyamalan’s first attempt ever at writing anything at all? And did he write it drunk? Because that’s the only situation where I can see something this awful being allowed to see the light of day. Honestly, I would not be surprised if he submitted the first draft as his final copy. The dialogue is lifeless, like that a ten-year-old would write. Instead of being funny, animated, and dynamic, the writer decided it would be better if what he calls “fart jokes” (but everyone else calls characterisation) from the cartoon were removed so that the movie would seem more sophisticated. Yeah, let’s just take away all the jokes from a kid’s movie. That seems like a real improvement. And to make matters worse, Shyamalan only has one personality type in his repertoire: flat. Every character is the same, and quite frankly, if the actors weren’t so physically different, I would’ve had a pretty tough time telling them all apart.

But it doesn’t end at characters, unfortunately. There are a lot of inconsistencies – a lot. The main protagonist, Aang, is not actually named until about twenty-five minutes into the movie, after the other two protagonists travel to an unknown place far away from their home. With this nameless stranger. And the prisoner camp… At least fifty earthbenders, surrounded by earth, sit around on their asses and wait to be rescued from, like, ten firebenders. Then there’s the actual bending itself. The actors are dancing around, trying to make it look graceful and shit, while during this time a dude with a sword or a spear or a freaking pocket knife could’ve offed them. Logic. I think Shyamalan needs to look it up.

He also cut out some important events, like Kyoshi Island, Omashu, and the Fire Temple… The Fire Temple. Of all the scenes they could’ve cut, they had to remove the most important one of the entire series. You know, that scene where they establish the plot? Yeah, that didn’t happen in the movie. So, not only is there no characterisation, but no plot as well. And Shyamalan thought this pile of garbage was a good idea. I don’t know about you, but I think it’s time for this kindergarten dropout to go back to school.

So, casting. Shout out to casting director Douglas Aibel for choosing the worst possible actors! What’s wrong with them, you ask? I’ll start with the obvious: ethnicity. The three main protagonists are Aang, a twelve-year-old monk played by Noah Ringer; and Sokka and Katara, two siblings from a tribe in the South Pole, are played by Jackson Rathbone and Nicola Petz. It’s just uncanny how in the movie, Sokka and Katara are from the only white family in the whole tribe. Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against most white people. But I’ve seen the cartoon the movie was based off, unlike Douglas Aibel, apparently. Those characters are clearly not white, like at all. Although, it wouldn’t come as a surprise to me if Rathbone and Peltz were the only ones willing to play the parts, I suppose.

Which leads us to the acting, if you can even call it that. If “be lifeless” and “act inexperienced” were their stage directions, bravo! Played to perfection! It is very clear that not a single actor did their homework for this movie, as none of the characters were played correctly. Some of you may know Rathbone as Jasper from Twilight. Turns out, his take on Sokka is basically Jasper with a ponytail. Cue shudder. And Peltz… Do you remember in school when you were forced to read a story together as a class? And then the teacher always happened to pick the slowest readers? Well, picture that but if they really hammed it up, like they were going for dramatic and totally sucked at it. That’s what Peltz’s narration felt like. Then we have Ringer. Talk about deer in the headlights. Did he even have his lines memorized, or did he have to read from giant cue cards? ‘Cause that’s the vibe I’m getting. Cliff Curtis plays Firelord Ozai (who literally had one line in the cartoon) with a super weird and out of place English accent. Aasif Mandvi plays Admiral Zhao, and fails miserably (how do you screw up arrogant, you’re an actor!). And by far the most disappointing, Shaun Toub brutally murders the beloved character of Uncle Iroh. He was supposed to be a tea-loving, easy-going fat guy. Instead, we got a skinny white dude that likes foot rubs (and yes, it’s as creepy as it sounds). Dev Patel plays Prince Zuko, and actually does a half-decent job despite the screenplay. Which makes me wonder what Shyamalan did to force him to into the cast.

Unsurprisingly, the people in charge of the audio effects were complete morons. Like, did they fire the composer mid-way through the movie? Because while the music itself is actually not bad, there is no way that the guy that copied and pasted the soundtrack onto the movie had any sort of musical training. One minute we’ll have a slow, beautiful song, and then BAM! Action music! The transitions were so jarring, they actually distracted me from the suckage of the rest of the movie. Which is saying something.

And the visual effects aren’t much better. Let me describe them in one word: Ugh. I get it, in 2010 it was pretty cool to animate fire and water like that. They can’t help that it looks crappy, because they didn’t have the technology. That’s something they can’t fix. But want to know what they could’ve fixed? The slow-mo. In every single fight scene, the editor randomly slows down the film every five seconds. Every five goddamn seconds. Normally, slowing down the movie is effective if used once, twice at the most. About ten times every twenty minutes? A lot less effective, and a lot more annoying. There are two situations where I can see this kind of crap passing in the final cut: either Conrad Buff, the editor, just discovered how to do slow motion and went crazy, or (more likely) no one on the editing team had the cognitive faculties to know any better.

To sum it up, this movie is terrible. The Last Airbender is possibly the worst kind of movie out there: A dumb movie trying to look smart. What Shyamalan failed to see because his head was up his ass about how much of a freaking genius he was for coming up with this pile of shit, was that movies don’t need to be smart, they just need to be fun. And now, because of Shyamalan, The Last Airbender is neither smart nor fun. It’s just bad. But, some good did come out of this. Shyamalan completely screwed himself over in the sequel department, and we’ll never see most of those actors ever again. So, in closing, I’ll just say this: if you’re having a great day and want to ruin the rest of your week, this is the movie for you.  

© Copyright 2018 Emily Sloan. All rights reserved.

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