The world is divided into four kingdoms, each represented by the element they harness, and peace has lasted throughout the realms of Water, Air, Earth, and Fire under the supervision of the Avatar, a link to the spirit world and the only being capable of mastering the use of all four elements. When young Avatar Aang disappears, the Fire Nation launches an attack to eradicate all members of the Air Nomads to prevent interference in their future plans for world domination. 100 years pass and current Fire Lord Ozai continues to conquer and imprison anyone with elemental "bending" abilities in the Earth and Water Kingdoms, while siblings Katara and Sokka from a Southern Water Tribe find a mysterious boy trapped beneath the ice outside their village. Upon rescuing him, he reveals himself to be Aang, Avatar and last of the Air Nomads. Swearing to protect the Avatar, Katara and Sokka journey with him to the Northern Water Kingdom in his quest to master "Waterbending" and eventually fulfill ... Written by
The Massie Twins
During the first conversation between Fire Lord Ozai and General Zhao we can see that Ozai's eyes move from left to right while he looks in the direction of Zhao's chest, thus revealing the use of a prompter. See more »
A hundred years ago all was right with our world. Prosperity and peace filled our days. / The four Nations: Water, Earth, Fire, and Air Nomads lived amongst each other in harmony. / Great respect was afforded to all those who could bend their natural element. / The Avatar was the only person born amongst all the nations who could master all four elements. / He was the only one who could communicate with the Spirit World. With the Spirits' guidance the Avatar kept balance in the ...
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The closing credits feature Aang, Katara and Zuko bending their respective elements of water, fire and air (no earth bending is demonstrated). See more »
Whenever an adaptation is mode, it is hard to view said film in any other context than in comparison to the source material. While it is important to take things in context, it is also important to view a film as what it is - that being the film medium. In the case of the critically acclaimed television series Avatar: The Last Airbender it would be impossible to adequately recreate or adapt every single thing in the entire first season in to a movie. M. Night Shyamalan's The Last Airbender is an adaptation of the first season or "Book 1" of the television series. I have watched Book 1 of the Nickelodeon series and quite enjoyed it, but for the sake of the medium of film I try to take an objective stance on my review of the film on terms of how it stands by itself, as opposed to how well it adapted the source material.
First, however, in terms of the adaptation, let me say that with such brilliant source material as Avatar: The Last Airbender it'd be easy to take the script and scenes word-for-word from the source material and simply plug in actors to say the lines. Unfortunately, Shymalan's The Last Airbender fails at even the simplest of tasks such as this.
Before the coming of sound to film, the theater was silent and the pictures told the audience the story. When sound came along, some criticized the addition to film as a bastardization of the art form. The "talkies" became quite popular with the masses however, and as history will show us, filmmakers adapted to new techniques and new ways of integrating pictures with sound, and the silent film has almost completely gone the way of the dinosaur except for some notable art-house exceptions.
Movies like The Last Airbender almost make me wish that silent film still existed. From the delivery of the first line to the last word spoken, every single line that is delivered is done so with such a forced agony that the film is almost unwatchable. The acting is stale, what characterization there should be is absent, and the whole film becomes more unbearable with every scene. It's almost as if the characters think they are in a radio drama, as the plot is rehashed for us, the audience almost every third minute as the characters catch us up to speed in a quick narration. The script is bloated and filled with all sorts of unnecessary dialogue which is delivered either so lazily that it's hard to care or with such overblown emotion that the lines become laughable. This excess dialogue serves as a catalyst to suck all depth out of who should be well-rounded characters that even a quick-3D conversion process cannot rescue them.
There are a few bright moments with the actors, probably the two most notable being Dev Patel as Prince Zuko and Shaun Toub as Uncle Iroh. These two actually have some good moments among all the poorly written lines and end up being the best part about the film script-wise.
Watching The Last Airbender makes me wonder if anyone besides the special effects supervisors and the fight choreographers even cared about what they were doing. Shots seem well-composed enough (though not even close to usual Shyamalan standards), the special effects are simply incredible, and the choreography is excellent. However, everything else about the film is just terrible. Even the way the choreography is presented is so over-dramatic that it takes all emotion out of what is happening. Every action scene is put in to slow motion. This highlights the spectacular of the choreography, but makes me wonder what could have been done had at least a few of the fight scenes been left in real-time.
Another quick note related to the adaptation, most of the film is dedicated to the last episode of the first season. Over an hour of the movie, in fact. Because of this, the first hour of the film feels rushed, trying to speed us to the "big battle scene". I realize that a series adaptation is tough, but to skimp out on important character details makes it near impossible to identify or even care about a single character.
The Last Airbender is not only a terrible adaptation, it's a pretty terrible movie on its own right, and may even go down in history as Shyamalan's worst. A shame for the once-great writer/director.
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