The Last Airbender (2010) Poster

User Reviews

Review this title
1,420 Reviews
Sort by:
Filter by Rating:
1/10
An 8 year old's assessment
mckee-783-6211926 July 2010
Warning: Spoilers
I would like to share my son's review. He just turned 8 and dictated as his dad typed:

I just hate it so bad!!!

I'm a HUGE fan of the the cartoons. I have the whole series, including Water, Earth and Fire.

It was a HUGE disappointment because even by the time I saw the commercial, I knew it would be completely crushing!

I mean, the characters! Iroh was the greatest disappointment. He was not kind and wise enough. And also he was not old enough.

And why can't they say anyone's name right!???

I thought it was completely disrespectful to put the characters skin colors the opposite.

After the first twenty minutes of it I was bored already but I have to say the effects were decent.

And the Avatar did not have enough happiness in him! I think it's important to the movie. Aang is the main character of the movie, and he should at least get a little more happiness inside of him!

When I got home that night I had to watch the cartoon series for some time to completely forget about the movie!

And... actually, I'm watching it right now!

If anybody wanted to see this movie I would suggest they close their eyes and ears!!!

*********************

Dad's two cents:

My son became interested in Avatar the Last Air Bender, the animated series at age 4.

I bought him the entire series on DVD as soon as the episodes were available and he and I devoured every episode, again and again.

Compared to the magnificently crafted animated series, I'd have to say the live action movie was an abysmal embarrassment, a sophomoric and vapid display of ignorance.

Go rent or buy the animated series instead. I think it's some of the best fiction ever written for children. It's incredible. It's an epic parable dealing with sophisticated philosophical, cultural, emotional and spiritual issues which have plagued human civilization since the emergence of reason. And it does it with lightheartedness and joy. The theme deals with no less than issues of greed, power, spirituality, and the formation of identity and moral values. It grapples with the ideals of pacifism. It teaches teamwork, compassion, empathy and humility. It exemplifies wisdom and the appreciation of art, nature and connectedness - connectedness to each other, to nature, to animals, to the universe, and emphasizes detachment from possession. The story line traverses goofy playfulness, tween and young teen crushes and love, family power dynamics, friendship, mental illness, and gut wrenching loss. And it's an incredible primer for Eastern spiritual ideals and mythology.

But these things can't be achieved effectively without superb craftsmanship. So beautifully wrought is this story that the fun, action and struggles are adeptly punctuated with moving poignancy.

The live action version is NONE of these things. No insight, no depth of character, only the most cursory references of some of the core thematic values of the animated series, and those done so poorly as to come off as just... pathetically trite.

The thing I find most upsetting regarding the failure of this movie to deliver is that the original animated series covers all of what I find to be the best of Eastern culture, and we Westerners need to understand these things in this global community. Buddhist and Confucian ideals and philosophies are front and center and, in my mind, are the greatest gifts the East has to offer the world, and the very things that are most clearly in danger of vanishing in the face of the West's insignificant obsession with material gain and conspicuous consumption.

And another thing, too. It's typical that this story was handled on the level it was - dismissively. Adults appear to be largely disinterested in the profound turmoil in which children are engaged as they enter their teens. They are forming their value systems, they are trying to reconcile reality with fantasy and desire. They are trying to find the balance between selfishness and empathy. They are finding what it means to be themselves, members of a community, and a species on the planet. They are in agony grappling with issues we were happy to leave behind. But these struggles are never truly resolved, and our ideas of who we are and how we fit in the world cannot remain fixed, and, yet, when they are challenged, we adults consider ourselves to be in a state of crisis, when that is the perpetual state of being of a young teen. And I would argue it's a state of flux that we should never leave, that we should always be questioning ourselves, our figures of authority, and our place in the world and in relation to those around us. I do not see these struggles as juvenile, but human, and the animated series brings all these struggles to mind. Sadly, the movie did little to bring the richness of these struggles to life.

In my most critical mood, I would say this failure is deeply offensive to my sensibilities as a human being.

But on the other hand, not everyone has the depth of vision and creative genius to pull off what admittedly would be a very challenging feat. I just wish I could see what David Lean could have done with this story.
533 out of 651 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
1/10
Bad as an adaptation, bad as a film
Citoyen1 July 2010
Shyamalan takes a stunningly sophisticated cartoon and reduces it to one of the most insultingly dumb films I've seen in years. From the script to the visuals, the directing, the acting, there is absolutely nothing that did well, either as an adaptation or as a film in its own right.

Characters who were once powerful and spitfire (Katara) or entertainingly sarcastic (Sokka) are now bland and exist solely for the purpose of exposition. In fact, the entire film comes off as exposition, far too much of the dialog serving as "by the way" explanations, never allowing the plot or characters to really take form. The scenes seem episodic and unconnected, and the film never comfortably establishes its universe, always retreading with an "as you know" or "aren't you that guy who..." to establish (often unnecessary) continuity.

The style, too, is disappointing, capturing none of the magic of the series. Most noticeable was the "bending"--while the series took its martial arts seriously, carefully aligning real-world arts with elements and making the benders' movements coincide with those of their elements, the film gives us characters flailing in generic martial arts forms for a few minutes, only to effect one splash, boulder, or blast of fire. In the series, every movement had a meaning; in the film, only about one in ten does.

Many fans of the series who were angry at the "whitewashing" of the cast hoped that it had at least resulted in the best actors for the parts. However, the acting was at best uninspired, and at worst painfully awkward, though part of this can be attributed to a truly atrocious script. Dialog is stilted and unnatural, certain phrases are repeated needlessly throughout ("great library," anyone?), and in all the only chance the script stands of being remembered is through memetic appreciation of its unintentional, awkward hilarity.

Not even the collective will of a devoted fanbase wanting so much for this film to be good could make it even remotely watchable.
520 out of 665 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
2/10
The Last (time I pay to see an M. Night Shyamalan movie) Airbender
LionessFeathers30 June 2010
After waiting extremely eagerly for this movie, I sat in the theater and was extremely eager for it to END. Ear-oh? Oong? Soak-ah?! Could they have butchered the names anymore than they did? Worse, the entire movie felt like a string of clips put together for an hour and a half and not like a movie at all. All the major parts of the Book of Water were skimmed over, while things like the freeing of the earth nation village (while important) were given screen time that could have been given to major events like the southern air temple.

The actors were dismal, with the exception of Dev Patel as Zuko and to a lesser extent Shaun Toub as Iroh, who wasn't an accurate portrayal of Iroh visually but at least captured the character's wisdom much better than many of the other actors on board for the movie. He however failed to provide many of the aspects of Iroh that made him endearing in the series.

I will give that the northern water kingdom was gorgeous, but that's about all I have to say kindly about this movie.

If you love Avatar: The Last Airbender as the series, I recommend giving this movie a miss. It's heartbreaking how they butchered something that had such fantastic and barely needing change source material.
873 out of 1,186 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
1/10
Massive Disappointment. Just Terrible.
festizio1330 June 2010
Warning: Spoilers
I went to see the Midnight showing of The Last Airbender tonight. I am a huge fan of the series and had been awaiting this movie for months. I understood that this was to be a children's movie, but the series was for children as well and I loved that. What could go wrong? This movie was a cinematic abomination. The entire movie, which covers the first "Book" of the series is rushed together and jumps around in a totally nonsensical manner. There is absolutely NO time spent on characterization. None of the characters had any depth at all and may as well have been cardboard cutouts. Major plot points are summarized through narration or montage and the film would leave any person not familiar with the story absolutely dumbfounded. With all of my heart I discourage you from seeing this movie. Go see Karate Kid. Go see Killers. Go see (I cannot believe I am saying this) Eclipse. Just stay away from this movie.
749 out of 1,047 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
1/10
This movie is an insult to the Avatar: The Last Airbender series
Alekza Cox (ac-08401)5 August 2015
First of all, the name pronunciations were off and horrid. Second, the actors didn't really match the characters. Third. What director in their right minds puts all three seasons in one movie? He could have done so much more by making three movies out of the three books. That way each movie could actually follow what the series made it out to be. As an avid ATLA viewer and a living fan, I'm insulted by the lack of respect to make this movie what it could have been. It should have followed the series to the T. It was all mapped out for him and he messed it up. It could have been amazing. It could have made the fan base proud. But it didn't. It should be burned. This movie is a disgrace. You failed, M. Night Shamylan.
8 out of 8 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
1/10
$150 million dollar disappointment
ofvanityandwax2 July 2010
I went into the movie knowing it would not be even a fraction as good as the real show. However, I didn't know that would make me literally want to leave the theater in the middle of the very movie. How someone could do such damage in approximately an hour and forty minutes is entirely beyond me. It was ridiculous, the only way to describe it is a $150 million dollar failure. I could understand if the effects were not up to par but the biggest disappointment was the acting. It was so stiff and it never once felt like the actors meant a word they were saying. I caught a glimpse of an interview with Nicola Peltz and Jackson Rathbone on TV and even their approach to that felt so wrong. It felt kind of disgusting to see as I've lately been watching Avatar: The Last Airbender (with extras) almost religiously for the past month.

The script in itself should have been tossed into the garbage and burnt and it's remains locked away so that no one would ever have to suffer looking at such garbage. That's why I'm not really sure if it's the actors or the script that's really to blame for the atrocious "movie" that's resulted. The long and, I'm assuming this what they were going for, "inspirational" speeches merely consisted of crudely strung together clichés and the language left much to be desired. I found myself almost twitching at the phrase (something along the lines) "You guys are AWESOME people!"...

What I find the be so incredibly amazing is how someone could honestly fail to such a proportion when they literally have a blue print already created. The fans know how the characters look and sound and while I understand that no one fits the package perfectly one out of two would be better than nothing. As well, suddenly deciding to change the pronunciation of the characters name is definitely not the best idea, while I do understand that he wanted the names to sound like their Asian origin, it didn't go over well and the whole time I was just cringing at the mere mention of Aang and Sokka's names.

This movie does not hold a candle to the original show. Heck, it should be retitled as it is hardly resembles the original in any way shape or form. While I do realize that not all episodes can be featured, the sequence of events just left you feeling awkward and confused. I, also, loathed the way they worked the bending in like it took five minutes of moving ones hands around awkwardly before any actual bending occurred. Most of the fighting was like fifteen minutes of martial arts with like the occasional bit of air bending and a little water being splashed around.

There was nothing to love in this movie not even the most adorable of characters such as Momo. Momo had literally what three minutes in the entire movie which I found extremely depressing as Momo was always one of the characters I just wanted to cuddle because of his adorable mannerisms but in the movie I had no love for the digitized Momo. Not even Appa was interesting.

This movie leaves me hoping and praying that M. Night Shyamalan goes broke and is black listed so that he can't ruin the series even more so. This is definitely something you will spend some time just trying to forget.
201 out of 280 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
1/10
Yes, it really is that bad
timgneher1 July 2010
I walked into this movie with pretty low expectations. I didn't expect something as good as the cartoon, I didn't expect a perfect adaptation. I expected some glitzy action sequences, cheap emotional ploys, just some fun summer fair.

What did I get? A movie so indescribably horrible I can only shake my head in bewilderment. Believe the critics. The writing sucks, the acting is stiff, the pacing clumsy, the 3-D beyond bad, the overall tone way too dark and brooding. Not much here is salvageable.

Obviously Shyamalan got completely caught up in the mythology of the world and missed the fact that what made the original cartoon so great were the CHARACTERS. Of which there are none in this film.

But really, even just a competently produced film would have been nice. And it almost was. The music was great. The special effects looked amazing, I don't care what anyone says. The fighting was cool. The sets were adequately spectacular. Indeed, it appears the only one who didn't show up for work was Shyamalan. While the adult actors manage to find their way somewhat on their own, the poor kids are obviously lost without someone competently leading them, they spend most of the film in a bewildered daze. Even some of the background extras acted awkwardly. But of course, there are no real survivors of Shyamalan's CLUNKER of a script. I can't believe someone didn't stop this guy. There were maybe two scenes that didn't sound awkward, and they had no dialog. I don't think any film has ever been such a disaster due to one man's gross ineptitude.

Such a shame. It could have been so good.
608 out of 880 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
1/10
M.Night Shyamalan should be ashamed....
LunaRaven30 June 2010
Warning: Spoilers
M.Night.Shyamalan ought to be ashamed of himself. I went to the midnight premier of the Last Airbender as a hopeful long time fan of the wonderful animated series. Less than thirty minutes into the feature however I realized that my hopes would be dead on the ground by the time the movie ended.

Over the past few months this film has been surrounded by controversy. The casting choices have caused accusations of racism to be leveled and many fans were left feeling disappointed months before the film even premiered. Now, I don't think M.Night Shyamalan is a racist. I don't know him well enough to make such a slanderous claim. Would I have preferred that the characters in the movie had appeared as the fans had come to know them over the past five years? Of course. However at the heart of Avatar fans, I don't think changing the appearances of certain nations was a racial issue. Simply put, I think people just wanted the characters to look the way they were supposed to look. However, had this movie been written well and had the acting been terrific, changing the appearances of the nations wouldn't have mattered. Because at its heart the story of Avatar is a human story with strong themes of redemption and forgiveness. I think people would have been able to look past their disgruntlement and see the beauty of the story. That is, if the movie had been well written. And I'm sorry to say, it was not.

Naturally, it was always going to be difficult to condense over eight hours worth of animated material into two-hours of movie. How do you choose what goes and what stays in a series where almost everything is interconnected? It was a daunting task indeed. But successful adaption of books, television series, and even video games have been done before. If the works of Tolkien, the master of intricate detail, could be adapted into a series that left a decent amount of his life long fans pleased, surely Avatar: The Last Airbender could be adapted with the same success. Unfortunately, this adaption was far from successful. In fact I think this movie officially joins the list of the most atrocious film adaptions, right along side of the horrendous Earthsea mini-series, the painful Eragon flop, and perhaps the even worse Dark is Rising catastrophe.

So where did this movie go wrong? The better question would be: where didn't it go wrong? The writing was horrendous. High school freshmen could probably manage to come up with a better screenplay. I'm not sure who gave Shyamalan permission to write this film, but whoever it was needs to formally apologize to the fans and to the people who wasted their money hoping to see something worthwhile. The direction was choppy—certain scenes made little sense, the camera lingered on other similarly senseless scenes, and at times the camera angles were difficult to follow. The lighting in the film was too dark throughout and when color was added, it was in too much excess. Overall, there was a lack of balance and cohesion in the way this movie was filmed. The plot was a mess. People who weren't familiar with the series would have been left lost, and people who were familiar with the series were left confused. Certain characters that were supposed to do things didn't, lines weren't said when they should have been said, and elements of the plot were just erased entirely. There was no Avatar Roku, only a dragon spirit that may have been an attempt at Fang, but a very bad one. There was no Omashu, no Kiyoshi warriors, there were no refugees at the northern air temple and Aang never attempted to master fire bending. In fact, in the movie he was too timid to learn water bending, which fans know to be a fallacy. And the characters that were featured were not only acted and written poorly, but many of them modeled new pronunciations of their names. I'm not sure of the reasoning behind this. Perhaps the changes in pronunciation were more accurate. Even if that was the case, they never should have strayed from the pronunciations in the series. Fans grew accustomed to a certain way of a saying and hearing a name. To change the pronunciations only led to confusion and distastes. I heard many people in the theatre around me growling in frustration every time Aang was pronounced "Ah-ng".

I won't get into my dislike of the graphics in detail. Appa and Momo were fairly horrendous, the bending was decent but done incorrectly(actors had to make a hell of a lot of movement for anything to happen, whereas in the series each movement corresponds to the movement of the elements), and the 3D was pointless.

Overall, I'd give this movie a 0 out of 10. Fans of the series, don't waste your money. People who are not fans and areconsidering giving this film a chance, use the money you would have spent on the ticket to rent the first season at the nearest video store.
283 out of 407 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
1/10
The most inept film-making I have seen in years
MovieManPat1 July 2010
Warning: Spoilers
The only thing I can really say about The Last Airbender is this: Epic Fail. Just how epic? Paramount Pictures gave M. Night Shyamalan $150 million dollars to adapt the popular Nickolodeon cartoon for the big screen. What they got is an absolute mess of a movie, complete with poor acting, the most hackneyed script ever, and a last-minute conversion to 3-D that only serves to destroys what was possibly some lush cinematography. The Last Airbender is perhaps the worst film of the summer, a feat I thought Jonah Hex had locked down. However, Airbender makes a determined effort. Let me put it this way, as good as Toy Story 3 was, Airbender is just as bad. It was hard to find anything wrong with Toy Story 3. It is nigh impossible to find anything right with Airbender. The story is ridiculously complex. In a world where people can manipulate (bend) the four elements of air, earth, fire and water, depending on their tribal affiliation, there exists a being (the Avatar) who can manipulate all four. This person is also the sole being capable of communing the the "spirit world" which serves to keep things in balance. This being went missing 100 years ago, only to be found in a giant ice sphere by two children of the water tribe. In the 100 years the Avatar has been gone, the Fire tribe has begun conquering the others, though we're never really told why. The disgraced Prince Zuko(Dev Patel, the Slumdog Millionaire himself) of the Fire tribe wants to the Avatar so he can return to his family. The Water children need to save the Avatar to ensure the Fire people don't win. For this point on it becomes to silly to try and summarize. Shyamalan succumbs to his own hubris, loading the film with long, boring exposition communicated through long, boring speeches that I'm sure were meant to be inspirational. Instead they are clichéd, burdensome mounds of words that only slow down an already languidly paced film. He heaps some unnecessary narration on top of the exposition, condescending to the audience as he does it. Perhaps the narration was put in to help the film's target audience, the prepubescent b0ys and girls who watch the cartoon, understand where this convoluted story is going. Sadly, it doesn't. The dialogue is so corny, it left me squirming a little. Also bothersome is the ham-fisted way Shyamalan expounded his themes, which seem to be responsibility, responsibility, and the horror of industry destroying nature (lifted with little change from the Lord of the Rings). Seriously, the Fire people sail their world's oceans in giant steel yachts that feature gigantic smokestacks over visible flame. These stacks spew out a never ending cloud of dark, ashy smoke. The metaphor could not be more clear had it just been printed as a subtitle across the screen. The acting is bad across the board. The child cast as Aan, the Avatar, Noah Ringer, a wooden child actor if there ever was one. He speaks his lines as if reciting them of a cue card just off screen. The two Water tribe children, Katara (Nicola Peltz) and Sokka (Jackson Rathbone) are no better. A colleague of mine I saw the film with noted that Rathbone seemed downright anxious every time he was on screen, delivering his lines tersely, with little emotion. The older actors just phone it in. The usually reliable Cliff Curtis looks bored stiff as the leader of the Fire people, while the main antagonist, a Fire general played by Aasif Mandvi, is neither menacing nor scary. He comes off as a schoolyard bully, all bluster and no balls. The only actor I found brought any sort of depth to his role was Shaun Toub (Yinsen from Iron Man). Playing Prince Zuko's Uncle Iroh, he's conflicted between his duty to the prince and his beliefs in the spirit world, something the Fire people have come to consider children's superstition. Perhaps the most egregious error of the movie is the 3-D conversion. 3-D tends to suck all the light out of the images it portends to display, leaving viewers with a murky picture where shadow and light blend together. There are no crisp lines in the film, no real detail. Which is a shame, as the film's setting should've been its biggest strength. The movie travels from an arctic campsite, where the whites should have popped against the bluish hues of the ice and water around it. When it travels to warmer climates, the greens and browns should have been awe-inspiring. It's not. It all looks faded. Much as with Clash of the Titans, the 3-D is barely noticeable throughout the film, and contributes nothing. I fear that Hollywood has cynically latched onto this fad for the high ticket price it commands rather than for any real artistic merit. My only relief was the movie was short, so I didn't get the usual headache 3-D movies tend to give me. I didn't expect much going into The Last Airbender. However, I didn't expect it to be quite so bad. It's like watching a train wreck unfold over 94 minutes. The problem is, that 94 minutes feels like an eternity. The end of the film hints at a sequel. I hope some divine being takes mercy on us all and never lets that happen.
610 out of 918 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
1/10
This movie SUCKED!
stephanib20092 July 2010
First off... Did M. Night Shyamalan even watch the Avatar series on TV? Or take a glance at it? Also, Dante Basco, the original voice actor said that he would be interested in playing Zuko, but they made the cast predominantly white. The show was based in Asia, how do you screw that up? It was White people, Arabic people, and Hispanics.. Now, there is nothing wrong with any of those ethnicities (I'm white) but, none of them looked Asian. If you have seen the series, you'll hate it, if you haven't seen the series, the lack of plot line and the anti-climatic story will make you hate it even more: seeing as how you won't understand what you just watched for almost 2 hours.

This movie was horrible. Don't waste your time. M. Night Shyamalan re- wrote the movie, it wasn't even funny... it's a waste of time.

I hope he paid the actors well, because they had to do a really crappy job for him.
275 out of 437 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
1/10
Terrible
Partofthevoid30 June 2010
Just saw this, I don't know what to call it. It was the only movie I've seen where everyone in the theater booed at the end and threw things at the screen. I feel like it was written by someone who can't read, write or care about their or anyone else's work. How do you take something that seemed like such a good idea and make it so terrible. I hope that the man or men responsible for this never get work again. This is what I would hope qualifies as a career killer, because I wish I had slept instead of going to this movie. I want my money, time, and expectations back. As in I expected at least good fun with the 'bending' or fight/dance scenes. I feel like I just got served... Do not watch or let ANYONE YOU KNOW GO TO THIS MOVIE, AND SOMEONE SHOULD PETITION TO CANCEL THE OTHER TWO(three?).
561 out of 919 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
1/10
I've never been so disappointed.
incubus4211 July 2010
Warning: Spoilers
WARNING: MANY SPOILERS!! I just returned from a midnight showing of The Last Airbender, and it was by far the worst movie I've seen in some time. I'm a HUGE fan of the cartoon, and even after reading poor reviews from other users, decided to see it anyway. There are very few films that I can't stand, and I thought that since I was a fan, I would enjoy seeing it even though I was prepared to be disappointed. In short, this film contains nothing that made the show great. There's no chemistry between Kitara, Sokka and Aang. Appa and Momo had exactly no personality. The entire story seemed to be presented far too quickly, and with no emphasis on any one particular aspect. It essentially goes from Aang being rescued from Zuko's ship to the Northern Water Tribe with a montage in between after Sokka suggests they hit a bunch of small towns and create rebellions against the Fire Nation. They briefly go into the concepts of bending. They briefly mention the spirit world. They don't mention the Avatar state, although Aang uses it at the end. The characters are never developed. You never get the feeling of any bonds of friendship. Aang isn't lovable and playful. Sokka isn't funny. Kitara isn't motherly and caring. The bending is dumbed down. Only a few great firebenders can create their own fire. The rest of the bending seems like far too much work for hardly any payoff. For example, at one point it takes 5+ earthbenders about 7 seconds to throw one rock about the size of a dinner plate. I guess the best way to put it is that it looks as if the benders are dancing while the elements almost move themselves. It doesn't feel tight and/or coordinated and all the elements move far too slow. The only characters that even remotely look like their cartoon counterparts are Aang, Sokka, Kitara and Yue. Zuko, Ozai, Zhao, Ihro, and Pakku look completely different. The dialogue made me cringe the entire time. Also, many of the names are pronounced differently. Ihro is pronounced Eeroh, Sokka is Soka (like the word "so"), Aang is more like Ung, and the word Avatar is pronounced like Ah-vatar. Many great characters are just not there, like Bumi, Jet, Roku, Kyoshi or any of the Kyoshi warriors. Not even the cabbage merchant. I don't understand how a film like this could be green-lighted. To conclude, if you like the show, you won't find anything you liked about it in this film other than a watered-down version of the main plot of Book 1 and some weak bending. If you didn't like or didn't see the show, then you will most likely be confused and bored and possibly even angry you wasted your money. Or amused at how ridiculous this movie is. True fans will see this anyway and they can't be blamed, but if you haven't been looking forward to this movie for awhile, don't waste your time.
167 out of 268 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
1/10
Not Much To Speak Of
PhoenixSon730 June 2010
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.
245 out of 402 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
The Last Airbender: A Momentous Achievement in Monotony
lukeg3730 June 2010
"The Last Airbender", directed by M. Night Shyamalan is tortuously lethargic, uninvited, abysmal, and uniformly atrocious (in every aspect). And that's me being nice! Based on Nickelodeon's beloved animated series (to which I am only vaguely familiar and thus can't compare) is set i a world in which the population is divided amid the four elements (Earth, Wind, Water and Fire) and some skilled practitioners whom can "bend" these elements to their will. Since the elements are naturally at odds with each other, an overall controller is needed to maintain order among the kingdom. This role is played by the Avatar, who can manipulate all the elements and thus can keep balance and peace amongst the tribes. Only problem is this Avatar has gone missing for 100 hundred years. "The Last Airbender" follows a brother and sister from the Water Tribe, Sokka (Jackson Rathbone) and Katara (Nicola Peltz), who discover a 12-year-old monk-child from the Air tribe frozen in a block of ice and his gigantic furry steed (that resembles the luck dragon in "The Never Ending Story").His name is Aang (Noah Ringer), and he, of course is the missing Avatar. Now freed, he finds his home air tribe are all dead and the rest of the world in turmoil. All at the hands of the tyranny of the dreaded Fire Nation. Aang, who never wanted to be the Avatar in the first place (thus why he ran away) must step up, lead a resistance and bring peace back to the Kingdom. However, he must first learn how to control the elements other than air (was imprisoned by an ice storm before he could train). The Fire nation led by Lord Ozai (Cliff Curtis) wants none of this of course and seeks to capture and subdue Aang (they would just kill him but he'd just get reincarnated). Rounding out the plot is Ozai's son, Prince Zuko (Dev Patel), living in exile with his uncle Iroh (Shaun Toub), who also wants to capture Aang and bring him back to his father to win his honor back. Sound like a lot? It is, but surprisingly not as convoluted as it sounds. The scope of the plot, which attempts at mysticism, politics, religion and a whole obvious Jesus angle isn't the problem. Its how the story is told that makes it unbearable. It throws a lot at you with no effect. It fails definition and lacks resonance. Everything is rushed. Characters and story elements are given no development. Take the Fire Nation for example. We are told they are scourge of the once unified kingdom but we arn't shown this. They travel the globe in their ominous, menacing, iron ships and have a mightier than though attitude but all in all nothing that establishes their evil-ness; albeit a later incident with a glowing pond guppy. Because of this we have nothing at stake, no reason to root for the good guys to triumph. Another example would be a big part of Aang's journey. Which involves him letting go of his anger towards the genocide of his people (a scene depicting said genocide would have helped sell the fire nation's douchey-ness) but we never see him get angry enough to make "letting go" have meaning. Void-ness of emotional moments are what really plague this film. I would blame this on the script but the performances are what make it not work. Every actor in this film (minus Shaun Toub) delivers dialogue as if they were reading it for the very first time. Not one thing anyone says carries any weight, none of it resonates emotionally. To say the actors suffer from wooden acting would be insult an to wood. It seem Shyamalan seemed much more interested in the visuals than the narrative (or the dialogue, which is shoddy at best). M. Night manages a few striking images, most of them involving otherworldly landscapes and ornate set design. There are strong special effects and action sequences which are fluid and vivid. Particularly with the fights involving element- manipulation. Winds gusts slamming people around like rag dolls, earth barricades, globs or walls of water and so on are eye popping. The effects are top notch. The hand-to-hand, Kung-Fu fight sequences are well choreographed as well, but a bit too extraneous. Should also mention that this movie is available in 3D and lets just say it's a wasted element (pun intended), an unnecessary afterthought. It wrecks whatever visual grace that might have been (and will give you a massive headache). Though, relatively successful in cinematic aspects Shyamalan, overall fails to capture the sense of adventure. There is a signs of a beautiful journey but it ultimately falls flat. Underwhelming and joyless Avatar: The Last Airbender is sure the be the final nail in the coffin of M. Night Shymalans stunted career. M. Night Shyamalan: Fool me once? Shame on you. Fool me four times? "The Sixth Sense" was clearly a fluke.
342 out of 594 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
1/10
This better be the LAST Airbender movie
phamurabi1 July 2010
Warning: Spoilers
I remember when i first saw previews for Avatar on Nickelodeon and my excitement was born. I remember watching the premiere and the excitement grew. I remember following the series and having loved every moment of it. I remember watching the series finale and believing it to be the most epic and beautiful ending I've ever seen, TV, movie or otherwise.

Then came the announcement that they were making a live action movie and everything went downhill from there. I was skeptical that such perfection could be replicated or even if it needed to be attempted. When M. Night was announced as the director and writer, the skepticism continued. It was great that he was a fan boy and I felt that he could give the rest of us fans what we were looking for, but M. Night? Seriously, he had never really done a movie like this before (and not to mention his other movies aren't the greatest to begin with.) Then the cast was announced and the set photos began to emerge. It all became clear that he was taking the story in a very different and dark atmosphere. Lost was the fun, light hearted nature of the series. Gone were the goofiness of Sokka, the incurable prankster persona of Aang, the jovial wisdom of Iroh, the confused soul of Zuko. Everything had become one-dimensional and very serious. I didn't like the direction M Night had taken this. But when the first teaser came out, and I bought into it. This could work, I thought. He is trying to appeal to a wider audience and if that means forgetting the roots of this children's cartoon and transforming it into an all out epic trilogy about warfare in a fantasy world with magic, so be it. This is no longer my beloved Avatar, but it could still be visually striking and entertaining. With each successive trailer, I gradually lost all expectations and prepared myself for a heartless reproduction of a timeless masterpiece. But it looked DAMN good, that's what kept my hope alive. The bending looked spot on, the fights were nicely choreographed, the battles felt grand, and the first time I saw Appa, I was speechless. I honestly felt I could endure this movie just for the visuals. I was wrong.

Fastforward to midnight June 30th, the months of anticipation came to a close. I refused to check reviews because I did not want to come into the theater biased (I had heard rumors of a very low rating, but no real confirmation.) Not even ten minutes in, I handed down my verdict: this movie is absolute garbage. First impression was the outdated photography, did they hire the guy that made the Conan movies in the 80s? The movie looked like a high school project that abused an overblown budget. Costumes were second rate, set pieces are generic, locales are bland, and computer graphics are no were near current standards to name a few faults. Secondly, the acting was laughable. Jackson Rathbone and Nicola Peltz are flat, lifeless cadavers. Third, and this was after I got over their horrendous delivery, was the writing. Reading an essay between two people does not qualify as dialog. Every sentence and every line was a simple description of what was happening on screen, there was nothing natural about any of it. And that leads to another fault: there was no structure to the story. If M Night intended to merely condense 6 hours of season one into a 2 hour movie, randomly choosing and cutting certain scenes is not a viable formula. He had already done enough to offend fans knowledgeable of the show, there was no reason to alienate any newcomers with such a jumbled sequence of events. I bit my lip and drank from my flask, just wait for the action, that will be the savior of this movie, I tried to convince myself. Needless to say, when I saw a rock slowly float across the screen masquerading as a sorry excuse for earthbending, I immediately got up out of my seat and left. I had never walked out of any movie before (not even The Golden Compass) but I could no longer stomach this travesty. I love Avatar: The Last Airbender the series and I refuse to let this regurgitation from M Night's ego ruin it for me. DO NOT SEE THIS MOVIE! DO NOT ENCOURAGE M NIGHT TO MAKE A SECOND, AND GOD FORBID A THIRD!
102 out of 170 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
1/10
Night Shyamalan firebends his directing career into smitherenes
bradleymills20091 July 2010
First off.. there was almost no 3d in this movie... except the opening part where it shows paramount pictures and a couple of water balls are shot out.

Second and more importantly the acting/character development and everything else about this movie was so unbearable that I walked out of my first movie ever! The acting by the Avatar and almost all other members of the cast including mr. slumdog millionaire was up to par with a jr. high level drama class.

As mentioned elsewhere the CGI was slow and ridiculously overdone...

Probably the worst thing about the movie is that its so rushed. This really adds to the suck factor because the script dictated that the characters (already void of expression), exhaustively tell us whats going to happen next so as not to confuse audience members who have not seen the cartoon!!! This is the worst movie i have ever paid to see... The 3rd mummy movie should win an Oscar when put next to this piece of...
82 out of 135 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
3/10
Pile of nonsense
billa4830 June 2010
They went too fast and all the characters talk like they're reading off placards. The computer generated stuff was good though but i got less than what i expected. What a waste of time and money. I'd rather had stayed home and watched the original cartoon instead.

The original cartoon is ten times better to watch. Even if i consider this movie as a unit in it itself, its missing a lot of story where a new viewer wouldn't be able to connect the points. Although it has good computer generated animation and stuff but you still get less than you'd expect. There are bits where you expect it to be funny and it ain't, no fun.

Anybody who has watched the original cartoon will tell you how much of it they have skipped in the beginning of the movie. The story line is completely shot, you cant tell whats really going on.
245 out of 437 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
4/10
Bad movie, disastrous adaptation
petra_ste28 September 2016
Warning: Spoilers
The original Avatar: The Last Airbender animated series is the rare kind of fantasy fiction ostensibly aimed at kids which can be enjoyed by adults as well - like The Hobbit (the book, not the tiresome movie trilogy). With its vivid characters and compelling story, the Nickelodeon saga ran for three seasons.

So, how does a director whose increasingly shaky reputation hinged on thrillers adapt in 90 minutes the entire first season of an adventure/fantasy series?

Badly.

Writing is leaden and ponderous - the voice-over by Katara (Nicola Peltz), in particular, is one of the most overwritten and insufferable narrations I recall in a major production. Ironically, in spite of all the yammering, the exposition is so inefficient that the series' rich lore and world-building are mercilessly castrated - the result is a generic, shallow fantasy setting.

(To be fair, the first season was challenging to adapt because of its episodic structure; the second and third have more forward momentum).

While M. Night has never been a great writer (The Sixth Sense and Unbreakable notwithstanding), he does possess visual talent. Unfortunately, he is not a great ACTION director, while The Last Airbender relies heavily on action; therefore, set-pieces here range from bland to ridiculous.

The most obvious problem is that, in the series, "bending" - a mix between martial arts and magic employed to command elements (water, earth, fire, air) - was visually effective and precise, with each elemental effect corresponding to a crisp, clear body movement. This connection is lost in the movie's action scenes, where characters gesticulate wildly and flail their limbs around to produce comically tiny results. The effect is grotesque - the kind of silly stuff which gives fantasy a bad name.

4/10
4 out of 4 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
1/10
This movie made me lose all respect and allegiance for M.Night Shyamalan
King Smith10 July 2015
I liked Shyamalan's earlier films like Sixth Sense, The Village, Unbreakable and Signs. I admired the fact that there was an Indian director doing so well in Hollywood. I was skeptical when he was announced as director for an action blockbuster movie but since the anime was so perfect, how could he ruin it? I couldn't have been more wrong.

I've watched the anime more than 30 times. It is my all-time favourite show and with this movie, he destroyed all that was good about ATLA. How could a director mess up such a great show this bad? His ego got too big for him, and rather than take responsibility for his blunder he blames the viewing public and critics for not understanding his art of filmmaking.

This movie is one of the worst films to ever be made, the worst anime adaptation of all time and an example of bad filmmaking itself. Half the movie is useless exposition, cardboard characters, terrible acting, racial miscasting (I am Indian and was astonished that Shyamalan made the Fire Nation Indian because his ego called for it). It takes 10 minutes for a group of benders to move even one rock, how pathetic is that? This is not art; it's a waste of our time and money.

I lost all respect for Shyalaman after this movie. I don't hate him as a human being, but I do as a filmmaker. I am hoping that they will reboot this movie with a different director because it has the potential to be another Lord of the Rings.

Watch the anime show. Watch the movie with a group of friends later on to laugh at it.
4 out of 4 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
1/10
Embarrassing for all parties involved.
Sam .18 January 2015
Never before in my life has a movie angered me so, to have watched the real Avatar since a young age, and followed the series from episode to episode, to having waited eagerly for this movie for so long, and then this. THIS foul abomination is what they present? There is no way to put my anger and frustration into words, but to put it shortly:

Everything about this movie is completely off the charts horrible.

They didn't even get the names, skin color or age of the characters right. Not even getting started with the characters personality, or the actual story at all.

This movie is a huge insult to everything that is the real Avatar series.

Such a shame.
4 out of 4 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
1/10
glad i didn't pay
wazzaa-129 May 2011
Warning: Spoilers
To say this film is a mess is an understatement but watch the original series then this and you'll understand why every fan hates this movie.

important plot sequences are left out and one of the most important characters avatar Roku isn't even there, not that it had to be a scene by scene remake of the cartoon to be good, but i don't see how they expect to do another movie with so Many gaps in the story, in this movie Aang or unng as he's miscalled should have the power to defeat the fire nation by himself now after the north pole victory, in the cartoon he merged with the ocean spirit something he couldn't repeat.

and thats just the tip of the iceberg, apart from plot holes there's bad acting terrible special fx and it's in 3D which i hate in Any movie don't waste your time it sucks.

blame the director M Night Shyamalan i do, anyone els could have done better.

If you are a big fan of Avatar the last air bender series, then don't watch this You will be annoyed from the beginning.
4 out of 4 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
1/10
Even my 4 year old was correcting the movie!
korbensmommy3241 July 2010
Warning: Spoilers
When a four year old boy sits and complains about how wrong the movie is and asking why they didn't put this in it, or why is such and such out of order, you know you have royally screwed up. On top of changing the name pronunciations, the fire nation lost their top knots(what is Zuko going to cut off after Azula attacks him?), they got way to crazy in the bending movements, the bending is slow, and I could go on forever about what my son noticed! They should have made the movie either longer or split Book 1 into two movies! Trying to cram one season into one movie was terrible! I wasn't expecting to much considering who did it, but when a small child is outraged you have hit a new level of awful!!!
79 out of 133 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
1/10
What rational fan could rate this well
Steve C. Wilson1 July 2010
Warning: Spoilers
I don't track directors, yet, at the end of the Avatar box set M.Night Shyamalan's promised to follow the spirit of the series. What happened? Where did these characters come from? I could have done better casting from a high school and a shopping mall (and I am half-blind). Also, he deleted all kinds of material that could have easily been included (at minimal cost) Even the mention of the 'spirit world' at the beginning was betrayed at the end when Princess Yue ascended as a moon spirit. No, he just let her drown in the spirit pond and let the others drag her, now dark-haired, body out for Sokka to weep over. Talk about totally missing the whole mystical point of the series.

Additionally, having Prince Zuko give up the chase and join the team in Book 1 (as well as Fire Nation forces) screws up a number of story lines. Where did the Avatar not being able to have a family come? The previous Avatar was Fire Nation and married. Mr. Shyamalan apparently just decided he wanted to rewrite Avatar - The Last Airbender and now fans do not recognize what is going on. I would recommend the original series trashing this movie and starting over with a more faithful director. In any event, DO NOT let this man touch the sequel (and yes there needs to be one just to get the taste of this one out of my mouth)!!! I wonder if one of the South Park kids or Stewie from Family Guy will show up on Shyamalan's doorstep and punch him in the face?
71 out of 121 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
1/10
Ovotar (Avatar), Ung (Aang), Yroh (Iroh)
nathantwhite1 July 2010
Warning: Spoilers
M. Night Shyamalan simply butchered what could have been a great film. His writing was cliché, obvious, and just didn't sound like any way that anyone would talk. The complete lack of character development was despicable, the fact that a short but beautiful love story was condensed to one line of crappy dialog "they became friends quickly" made many people in the theater including myself let out a groaning sigh, and the fact that Aang (or "Ung" as the movie would say it) was not funny at all was a huge disappointment.

Casting a 30 or 40 something black guy to play the role of the 75 or 80 something Asian monk was an.."interesting" choice. Same with Uncle Iroh (or uncle "Yroh" as they pronounce it), a lighter skinned, somewhat shorter man with a large pronounced belly being played by a tall skinny guy with darker skin and dreads...dreads?..I mean what the hell?

One of the simple things that bugged/angered me throughout the whole film, which I've mentioned, was the constant mispronunciation of names, the most important names in the story fell victim to this, such as Aang, Sokka, Iroh, and even Avatar.

Too many important things were cut out, and too many important story points were unscrupulously changed.

IF they make the rest of the series into live-action movies such as this, there need to be more than one movie per book, and M. Night Shyamalan needs, and I mean Needs, to be off the project all together.

If you're not a big fan of the series: Save your money. If you are: Save yourself the pain. Don't see it.
107 out of 189 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
1/10
if you see this movie you will want to commit murder, therefore, this movie can cause violence
Max Artsly1 July 2010
M. Night Shyamalan decided two years ago that he would recreate the first season of Avatar: The Last Airbender as a live action film. Even before the dreadful movie came out, there was already a skeptical view towards the racially incorrect cast, but mainly the fact that it's M. Night Shyamalan. He didn't prove our expectations incorrect.

Now what was it exactly that made this movie such a failure. There are many sources of error; irrelevancy to the show, poor graphics, incomprehensible plot, bad acting, bad script, etc. Well, The Last Airbender was capable of bringing all of these into one film, and more. Like the true die-hard (and incredibly nerdy) fan that I am, I mapped out the entire first season on paper, and created a checklist of all the events that occur. After watching the movie, I looked back at it and noticed I could only check 5 major plot points out of 33 that were correctly portrayed in the movie. Disgraceful. Now comes the exciting part where I rant about everything that was wrong.

Content: Even before they got to the first scene I could tell it would be an awful movie. It had a homage to the title scenes where the have benders of the four nations doing their things, but the movements... OH GOD the movements. The benders take minutes of useless martial arts before they actually make stuff move, and when it does, it just looks like the bender is having some sort of magical seizure that somehow makes the elements move on their own. Speaking of benders, there's one scene where 10 earth benders do 15 seconds of crazy arm flailing, and they move one rock the size of a soccer ball. On top of that, the next part of the opening sequence had Katara narrating a Star Wars-esquire white text, black screen. Then her narration continued for the rest of the movie, because Shyamalan can't properly have actors portray a movie, so he's having someone tell us the movie instead.

Again on the topic of bending, fire benders can't bend unless they have a source of fire nearby. This is the most retarded concept introduced in the movie. This just kind of makes them suck. And of course, Iroh is the only one who can make his own fire, and when he does, everyone poops themselves and run away. It's not explained, and makes no sense, like everything else in the movie.

Last bending note; Katara never learns how to heal.

There are twenty episodes in the first season of Avatar. The movie leaves out 11 of the episodes. Yes, 11. 55% of the events that should happen don't.

In these episodes, they also leave out major elements of the show. There's no Pai Sho, and therefore no Order of the White Lotus. No kick ass animals except for Appa and Momo (who is never called Momo in the movie, by the way).

Shyamalan changed around how scenes occur, and the order in which they happen, too. When Aang is captured by Zuko, uncle tests him to see if he's the Avatar. Not only is this wrong, but it makes no sense. Why the would a rock stand up just when it's around him?! When Haru's village is combined with Kyoshi Island and they find a water bending scroll there. Wrong. Aang enters the Spirit World when he's in the Avatar State and finds a talking dragon in a cave that tells him the world is gonna die. Wronger. Aang goes to the Northern Air Temple alone trying to find his people, only to be turned over by a random Earth Kingdom civilian. Even wronger. Zuko and Aang have a fist fight.

They also leave out about 10 vital characters to the series: Suki and the Kyoshi Warriors (although the are on Kyoshi Island at one point... or what's supposed to be Kyoshi Island anyways), King Bumi (they never go to Omashu), Haru (a character with the same role as Haru is there however, but he's like 4), Roku and Fang (but there is a black dragon in the Spirit World we're left to assume is Fang), Jet and his Freedom Fighters, Bato of the Water Tribe, June and her Shirshu, Jeong-Jeong the deserter, and Yue's father (who is apparently supposed to be dead). AND THERE'S NO - CABBAGE MERCHANT.

Mispronunciations: This just made everyone angry, and was just really unnecessary. It's Aang, not ONG; Sokka not Sohka; Iroh not Ear-oh; Avatar not Ah-v-tar; and it's called Agni Kai, not Agni Key. Oh, and Gran-Gran is called Grandma. That actually made me sad. Not only can't Shyamalan make a movie, but he also failed 5th grade English. What a shame.

Characterization: None of the characters look right with the exception of maybe Aang. There are no proper relationships established between the characters. Sokka and Katara don't even know Aang's name yet when they decide they're traveling the world with him. They barely even talk throughout the movie. Sokka just has no personality, they never focus on him and his has a very minor role in this movie. Katara's a dumb -. Zuko's not nearly whiny or angry enough... plus he doesn't have the incredibly intimidating ponytail. Nobody in the Fire Nation seems very ruthless, actually. The only character, in my opinion, who seems to have the correct personality in the movie is Uncle Iroh. He doesn't have his same level of tea loving, but he still maintains the proper Uncle philosophy.

There are probably many more areas I could bash this atrocity some call a movie, but these were my main grievances.
41 out of 68 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
loading
An error has occured. Please try again.

See also

Awards | FAQ | User Ratings | External Reviews | Metacritic Reviews