On-Camera Review: The Last Airbender

by Eric Melin on July 2, 2010

in Video Reviews

With the exception of “Toy Story 3,” the last two months have produced some really underwhelming and mediocre summer movies. All that changes as “The Last Airbender” enters theaters this weekend.

We now have the summer’s first bonafide stinker—a supposed fantasy adventure that has all the magic and mystery of a bologna sandwich.

Adapted from the popular animated Nickelodeon series by M. Night Shyamalan, “The Last Airbender” has some of the worst acting and clumsiest dialogue in a major motion picture since—well, “The Happening”—the last Shyamalan disaster.

The plot is too convoluted to go into here, but suffice it to say that the TV show on a network aimed at children does a WAY better job of explaining it than the movie did. For a big Hollywood picture with first-rate special effects, “The Last Airbender” is surprisingly amateurish.

Scenes don’t conclude so much as they just peter out and die. Random narration pops in and out to explain what is going on when the movie can’t. With their color-coded costumes and complete lack of conviction, the “characters” are just actors playing dress-up on CGI sets.

It was rushed in at the last minute, so even the 3D retrofit is an abject failure. All it does is blur the cinematography, which is one of the only things the movie has going for it.

The only time “Airbender” works at all are during the scenes without any speaking—wordless montages or slo-mo fight scenes where James Newton Howard‘s  score takes over and makes you feel—for a second—that you are watching a real movie and not some screen test or audition reel from the DVD extras.

Eric is the Editor-in-Chief of Scene-Stealers.com and writes the Screen Stealers column for The Pitch. He’s President of the KCFCC, and drummer for The Dead Girls and Ultimate Fakebook. He is also Air Guitar World Champion Mean Melin. Eric goes to 11. Follow him at:

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{ 21 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Jessaca July 2, 2010 at 9:22 am

Seriously M. Night has no idea how to write dialogue. There were so many times I rolled my eyes with the blantant and obvious ways he used dialogue to progress the story. It had potential, but the script fell flat on its face. I imagine they won’t make the next two because this one will flop.

Reply

2 Jessaca July 2, 2010 at 9:22 am

Seriously M. Night has no idea how to write dialogue. There were so many times I rolled my eyes with the blantant and obvious ways he used dialogue to progress the story. It had potential, but the script fell flat on its face. I imagine they won’t make the next two because this one will flop.

Reply

3 Jessaca July 2, 2010 at 9:22 am

Seriously M. Night has no idea how to write dialogue. There were so many times I rolled my eyes with the blantant and obvious ways he used dialogue to progress the story. It had potential, but the script fell flat on its face. I imagine they won’t make the next two because this one will flop.

Reply

4 Guanxi July 3, 2010 at 1:04 am

The actual genders and races of what the elements represent are in Rodney St.Michael’s book, Sync My World: Thief’s Honor GA SK. (myconnected.webs.com)

Air = Yellow “race” = male = scholars

Water = Small Browns = female = shaman

Earth = Blacks = lesbian = social ubuntu business class

Fire = Whites = gay = military, militant business class

Ether or Metal = Big Browns = bisexual = working class, bi-military

(females & bis go together like Katara & Sokka or brown females and males)

Therefore Aang should be Chinese.

Katara should be a Malay like a Filipina.

The Earth Kingdom should be African.

Zuko should be White like Hitler, Alexander the Gay or Gen. Arthur McArthur.

The Fire Nation’s army should be like the fiery Sacred Band of Thebes (an ancient elite gay army that Don’t-Ask-Don’t-Tell troops would be envious of) or the Sturmabteilung, the much-feared homosexual stormtroopers of Hitler.

And the Slumdog Millionaire (casted as Zuko) should be Sokka.

This film is just as messed up as the movie Angels and Demons. The branding of the priests were incorrect.

But anyway, from the guy who gave you the Sixth Sense, which did not portray childhood schizophrenia accurately or anywhere near the real world, what do you expect?

Bisexuals love horror and terror. They also scam people, just like the Wizard of Oz. The old Oz film which is also about the Elements is understandably all-white because they were ignorant back then. People have higher standards now, and realism is a must.

But M.Night, the Wizard of South Asia also has lessons for everyone after conning them:

1) Clearly, when people don’t play roles that fit them, everything is messed up. (e.g. “male” clergy in what should be a female realm, forbidding gays in the military which is their territory)

2) Whites are not fit to play the leading roles of Air and Water in the world scene. Leave that to the ASEAN+3 (China, Japan, Korea and South East Asia).

3) Arabs are not necessarily the greatest evil in the world. Occasionally, they float like Ether to the ranks of Water. It is fiery whites that fits the role of Lucifer or Satan.

4) By acquiring objective reviews from leading critics, they have agreed themselves that these are all factual objective realities.

Thus, the Wizard, even if he is a con man, is also an accidental pseudo teacher. Partly, it’s called sunyata or “emptiness.”

Reply

5 Guanxi July 3, 2010 at 1:04 am

The actual genders and races of what the elements represent are in Rodney St.Michael’s book, Sync My World: Thief’s Honor GA SK. (myconnected.webs.com)

Air = Yellow “race” = male = scholars

Water = Small Browns = female = shaman

Earth = Blacks = lesbian = social ubuntu business class

Fire = Whites = gay = military, militant business class

Ether or Metal = Big Browns = bisexual = working class, bi-military

(females & bis go together like Katara & Sokka or brown females and males)

Therefore Aang should be Chinese.

Katara should be a Malay like a Filipina.

The Earth Kingdom should be African.

Zuko should be White like Hitler, Alexander the Gay or Gen. Arthur McArthur.

The Fire Nation’s army should be like the fiery Sacred Band of Thebes (an ancient elite gay army that Don’t-Ask-Don’t-Tell troops would be envious of) or the Sturmabteilung, the much-feared homosexual stormtroopers of Hitler.

And the Slumdog Millionaire (casted as Zuko) should be Sokka.

This film is just as messed up as the movie Angels and Demons. The branding of the priests were incorrect.

But anyway, from the guy who gave you the Sixth Sense, which did not portray childhood schizophrenia accurately or anywhere near the real world, what do you expect?

Bisexuals love horror and terror. They also scam people, just like the Wizard of Oz. The old Oz film which is also about the Elements is understandably all-white because they were ignorant back then. People have higher standards now, and realism is a must.

But M.Night, the Wizard of South Asia also has lessons for everyone after conning them:

1) Clearly, when people don’t play roles that fit them, everything is messed up. (e.g. “male” clergy in what should be a female realm, forbidding gays in the military which is their territory)

2) Whites are not fit to play the leading roles of Air and Water in the world scene. Leave that to the ASEAN+3 (China, Japan, Korea and South East Asia).

3) Arabs are not necessarily the greatest evil in the world. Occasionally, they float like Ether to the ranks of Water. It is fiery whites that fits the role of Lucifer or Satan.

4) By acquiring objective reviews from leading critics, they have agreed themselves that these are all factual objective realities.

Thus, the Wizard, even if he is a con man, is also an accidental pseudo teacher. Partly, it’s called sunyata or “emptiness.”

Reply

6 Guanxi July 3, 2010 at 1:04 am

The actual genders and races of what the elements represent are in Rodney St.Michael’s book, Sync My World: Thief’s Honor GA SK. (myconnected.webs.com)

Air = Yellow “race” = male = scholars

Water = Small Browns = female = shaman

Earth = Blacks = lesbian = social ubuntu business class

Fire = Whites = gay = military, militant business class

Ether or Metal = Big Browns = bisexual = working class, bi-military

(females & bis go together like Katara & Sokka or brown females and males)

Therefore Aang should be Chinese.

Katara should be a Malay like a Filipina.

The Earth Kingdom should be African.

Zuko should be White like Hitler, Alexander the Gay or Gen. Arthur McArthur.

The Fire Nation’s army should be like the fiery Sacred Band of Thebes (an ancient elite gay army that Don’t-Ask-Don’t-Tell troops would be envious of) or the Sturmabteilung, the much-feared homosexual stormtroopers of Hitler.

And the Slumdog Millionaire (casted as Zuko) should be Sokka.

This film is just as messed up as the movie Angels and Demons. The branding of the priests were incorrect.

But anyway, from the guy who gave you the Sixth Sense, which did not portray childhood schizophrenia accurately or anywhere near the real world, what do you expect?

Bisexuals love horror and terror. They also scam people, just like the Wizard of Oz. The old Oz film which is also about the Elements is understandably all-white because they were ignorant back then. People have higher standards now, and realism is a must.

But M.Night, the Wizard of South Asia also has lessons for everyone after conning them:

1) Clearly, when people don’t play roles that fit them, everything is messed up. (e.g. “male” clergy in what should be a female realm, forbidding gays in the military which is their territory)

2) Whites are not fit to play the leading roles of Air and Water in the world scene. Leave that to the ASEAN+3 (China, Japan, Korea and South East Asia).

3) Arabs are not necessarily the greatest evil in the world. Occasionally, they float like Ether to the ranks of Water. It is fiery whites that fits the role of Lucifer or Satan.

4) By acquiring objective reviews from leading critics, they have agreed themselves that these are all factual objective realities.

Thus, the Wizard, even if he is a con man, is also an accidental pseudo teacher. Partly, it’s called sunyata or “emptiness.”

Reply

7 dbmurray July 3, 2010 at 9:33 pm

I’ve enjoyed some of Shyamalan’s films in the past…Signs, the Sixth Sense, and Unbreakable…but at this point I can’t figure out how he’s still able to get funding for his films. Lady in the Water and The Happening were bad enough, but this has to be as bad as he can get…doesn’t it?

Reply

8 dbmurray July 3, 2010 at 9:33 pm

I’ve enjoyed some of Shyamalan’s films in the past…Signs, the Sixth Sense, and Unbreakable…but at this point I can’t figure out how he’s still able to get funding for his films. Lady in the Water and The Happening were bad enough, but this has to be as bad as he can get…doesn’t it?

Reply

9 dbmurray July 3, 2010 at 9:33 pm

I’ve enjoyed some of Shyamalan’s films in the past…Signs, the Sixth Sense, and Unbreakable…but at this point I can’t figure out how he’s still able to get funding for his films. Lady in the Water and The Happening were bad enough, but this has to be as bad as he can get…doesn’t it?

Reply

10 Eric Melin July 5, 2010 at 12:29 pm

This is as bad–no worse–than The Happening, although I some of the things that made The Happening unbearable seemed like B-movie-isms, and that’s what he was going for, so does that make it anymore excusable?

Reply

11 Eric Melin July 5, 2010 at 12:29 pm

This is as bad–no worse–than The Happening, although I some of the things that made The Happening unbearable seemed like B-movie-isms, and that’s what he was going for, so does that make it anymore excusable?

Reply

12 Eric Melin July 5, 2010 at 12:29 pm

This is as bad–no worse–than The Happening, although I some of the things that made The Happening unbearable seemed like B-movie-isms, and that’s what he was going for, so does that make it anymore excusable?

Reply

13 jasslynn July 6, 2010 at 5:39 pm

THAT guy who wrote about the races is going around to ever site listed on rotten tomatoes and posting that crap. I agree that M.Night is horrible but If anything I hope they dont let M.Night Shamylan touch it for the 2nd and third, because it actually is a well written storyline (MNIght DID NOT WRITE THIS STORY) IT IS A NICKELODEAN ORIGINAL TV SERIES (created and produced by Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko, who served as executive producers along with Aaron Ehasz). and could be a beautiful film series. If Michael Bay or James Cameron did it. What was paramount thinking letting that one trick pony (the sixth sense)do this epic story all wrong?

Reply

14 jasslynn July 6, 2010 at 5:39 pm

THAT guy who wrote about the races is going around to ever site listed on rotten tomatoes and posting that crap. I agree that M.Night is horrible but If anything I hope they dont let M.Night Shamylan touch it for the 2nd and third, because it actually is a well written storyline (MNIght DID NOT WRITE THIS STORY) IT IS A NICKELODEAN ORIGINAL TV SERIES (created and produced by Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko, who served as executive producers along with Aaron Ehasz). and could be a beautiful film series. If Michael Bay or James Cameron did it. What was paramount thinking letting that one trick pony (the sixth sense)do this epic story all wrong?

Reply

15 jasslynn July 6, 2010 at 5:39 pm

THAT guy who wrote about the races is going around to ever site listed on rotten tomatoes and posting that crap. I agree that M.Night is horrible but If anything I hope they dont let M.Night Shamylan touch it for the 2nd and third, because it actually is a well written storyline (MNIght DID NOT WRITE THIS STORY) IT IS A NICKELODEAN ORIGINAL TV SERIES (created and produced by Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko, who served as executive producers along with Aaron Ehasz). and could be a beautiful film series. If Michael Bay or James Cameron did it. What was paramount thinking letting that one trick pony (the sixth sense)do this epic story all wrong?

Reply

16 Eric Melin July 7, 2010 at 10:51 am

Jasslynn – Kinda figured, but let it stay there anyway…thanks for the heads up. Not sure who the correct director would be for this movie, but I agree with you that M. Night proved that it shouldn’t be him. Numerous people have told me about how well-told the series is. I hope they find somebody who can do it (and its many fans) justice.

Reply

17 Eric Melin July 7, 2010 at 10:51 am

Jasslynn – Kinda figured, but let it stay there anyway…thanks for the heads up. Not sure who the correct director would be for this movie, but I agree with you that M. Night proved that it shouldn’t be him. Numerous people have told me about how well-told the series is. I hope they find somebody who can do it (and its many fans) justice.

Reply

18 Eric Melin July 7, 2010 at 10:51 am

Jasslynn – Kinda figured, but let it stay there anyway…thanks for the heads up. Not sure who the correct director would be for this movie, but I agree with you that M. Night proved that it shouldn’t be him. Numerous people have told me about how well-told the series is. I hope they find somebody who can do it (and its many fans) justice.

Reply

19 Wulfen July 8, 2010 at 4:13 pm

jasslynn, Night did indeed write this script himself. I wasn’t sure if that was what you meant or not, so wanted to make sure that was known. Not only is the script and movie atrocious, but the studio promised him he could script and direct the sequels as well. So if they make any more, guess who will be behind it?

Reply

20 Wulfen July 8, 2010 at 4:13 pm

jasslynn, Night did indeed write this script himself. I wasn’t sure if that was what you meant or not, so wanted to make sure that was known. Not only is the script and movie atrocious, but the studio promised him he could script and direct the sequels as well. So if they make any more, guess who will be behind it?

Reply

21 Wulfen July 8, 2010 at 4:13 pm

jasslynn, Night did indeed write this script himself. I wasn’t sure if that was what you meant or not, so wanted to make sure that was known. Not only is the script and movie atrocious, but the studio promised him he could script and direct the sequels as well. So if they make any more, guess who will be behind it?

Reply

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