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The Last Airbender

The Last Airbender, what to say about it? All I want to say really is that it was a bit shite. Not The Happening shite, but still on the pants side of watchable. The story for those who don’t know is off a mythical land with 4 nations who used to live in peace, the nations of air, fire, earth and water. Each nation has “Benders” people who can control their given element, and a leader of sorts called The Avatar (or Arvatar as they seem to keep pronouncing it) who can master all 5 elements and unites the nations. As the film starts we’re treated to a pointless text scroll, pointless because it’s also narrated, explaining how a hundred years ago the Avatar disappeared and the fire nation started a war to control the whole world.

We soon meet Aang, the Avatar, who has been frozen in the ice for the last hundred years, when he is freed by Katara and her brother Sokka in the southern Water nation, and he explains how he ran away from home because he was upset. They take him back to their village only to be attacked by the Fire nation, who want the elderly of the village, looking for the avatar thinking he would be an old man by now. They find Aang and take him. Katara convinces Sokka that Aang is their responsibility and they rush off to save him.

On the Fire nations ship they test Aang and find him to be the Avatar, but he quickly escapes using his airbending powers and meets up with Katara and Sokka and returns to his home, only to find that all of the Air nation have been wiped out. So Aang, Karara and Sokka begin travelling the world starting a rebellion and try to reunite the nations against the Fire nation.

So enough of the story, probably any one with an interest in seeing it will already know the story. I have to say basically this film is everything you expect of an M. Night Shyamalan. Badly written, badly directed and badly acted, although some of the actors do make the best of it that they can. I pity poor Dev Patel who went from a deserving Oscar winner to this. I never watched the cartoon so I can’t tell if it’s down to trying to be true to the source or just plain bad writing but there seems to be a lot of false jeopardy as if leading to a climax, which I guess would work as part of a series but not in a film.

The action sequences feel off some how, for a film about people who control elements you don’t feel any sense of real power to their attacks and defences. There’s some very bad dialogue and the fact they’ve made this film as a start to a trilogy or perhaps quadrilogy means there’s a battle at the end but no real closure to the story, and even a scene setting up the next part that feels tacked on at the end. Also I didn’t see it in 3D, but what I saw suggests nothing would be added by the inclusion of 3D.

Overall I’d say there’s no real reason to see this film unless you’re a big fan of the series and want to see it for that reason. Even then I’d say don’t bother forking out for 3D showings, just go with plain old 2D. Watchable but barely.

Available from: Amazon • • Amazon US

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Reviewed by Kevin on 31 January 2011

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