Nickelodeon Studios has turned several of their popular TV cartoon series into feature films, including The Rugrats, Jimmy Neutron, Boy Genius and, of course, SpongeBob SquarePants. “The Last Airbender” is the first live-action movie based on a Nick cartoon. Unfortunately an animated version would have been better.
The story is set in a fantasy world where the four tribe nations: Air, Earth, Wind and Fire (not the music group) control all of life. Since the disappearance of the Avatar (not the James Cameron blue people), the Fire Nation has been at war with the other three, looking to take over.
A young boy named Aang (played by Noah Ringer) returns to the land, at it turns out that he is the Avatar, meaning he can master all 4 elements and communicate with the spirit world. The Fire people want to capture Aang so they can continue their quest to rule the world. The good guys, led by a brother and sister who first find Aang, have to protect the Last Airbender so he can learn how to bend water and defeat the Fire Nation.
Sound interesting? Well, it’s not. I never watched the TV series but it was a huge hit so it had to be better than this. The action scenes are dull, you don’t get attached to any of the characters so you don’t care which side wins.
M. Night Shyamalan wrote, produced and directed the movie. What’s going on with this guy? Most of the dialogue is the characters talking simply to explain to the audience what’s going on with the plot. There are too many unnecessary close-ups, poor use of slow-motion and the acting is corny, even for a fantasy film.
“The Last Airbender” was shot in 2D and then converted to 3D (the same process used in “Clash of the Titans”) for theaters. Can we all agree now that this simply doesn’t work. The 3D was is weak, and practically all of the scenes are dark, which made it even tougher to watch. Who knows how the DVD will look (I’m not watching it), but it really doesn’t matter Special effects? Well, the biggie comes at the end, a big wall of water, that we’ve already seen several times in other films.
“The Last Airbender” is rated PG for some action violence, but there’s really nothing bad in the movie, it’s just a bad movie.
On The Official Kid Critic Report Card, “The Last Airbender” gets a D, which is probably too generous. It’s one of the worst films of the year and I think most fans of the TV series will agree.
The movie only covers Book One of the three book series, and the final scene sets-up a sequel. But I’m guessing that this will be THE LAST “Last Airbender” we’ll be seeing.