Trailers can be so deceitful with their promises of excitement, we all know that, but what is the deal with M. Night Shyamalan?
It’s like the multi-hyphenate filmmaker lucked out with The Sixth Sense and like, ever since then he’s been on a commercial and critical decline. And his latest, The Last Airbender, ain’t gon’ change that.
I mean, did you see the funny that Vanity Fair made at the movie’s expense – just so the it could call it the “worst film”?
Ouch…that one embarrassed me.
Shyamalan’s adaptation of the first season of the Nickelodeon animated series Avatar: The Last Airbender is, indeed…a bore – a retrofitted-to-trendy 3-D mess that will be hard-pressed to see any of the sequels it so aspires to inspire.
Among its many problems? Child/young actors.
Noah Ringer stars as Aang, the titular character, a reluctant hero who chooses a life of adventure over his job as the Avatar, a.k.a. the uniter of the Air, Water, Earth, and Fire nations, all of whom are tied together around a common destiny after a faction of the latter launches a power-hungry war against the others.
Aang can manipulate all these elements, you see. Well, air, for sure, when the movie starts, and water by the time it ends.
A century has passed with no hope in sight to change the path of this destruction when the boy is discovered by Katara (Nicola Peltz, a dead-ringer for a young Scarlett Johansson, minus the tal…uhh…self-possession), a Waterbender, and her brother Sokka (Jackson Rathbone, of Twilight Saga supporting player fame) to restore balance to their war-torn world.
Slumdog Millionaire’s Dev Patel plays as a fallen-from-grace Fire Nation prince who travels with his wishes-nephew-would-let-go uncle Iroh (Shaun Toub), searching for the Avatar in order to restore his honor in front of his ruler dad. Patel straddles the line between menacing and awkward in the role. Although it would be interesting to see him grow into it, I don’t anticipate doing so.
That’s because another big problem with this would-be big franchise – and this is all on Shyamalan – is it’s tremendously heavy-handed and overly complicated. If I, a twentysomething, had trouble grasping the mythology, I can’t imagine tweens should fare better.
And no one likey-likes that, to feel so confused by something that ought to be, OK, a bit difficult, not borderline impenetrable or worse, uninteresting.
It’s just not enjoyable.
My Rating *1/2
Photo: Paramount Pictures.