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.