Friday, 13 August 2010

Cinema Review: The Last Airbender

M. Night Shyamalan. A name that, in the year of 1999, was spoken with respect, usually followed by the occasional praise of the upmost positive kind. Fast forward seven years and he began his descent into the bewildering. Fast forward a further four years and we're left watching through our hands, gritting our teeth and sighing uncontrollably.

Admiration can be given for writing, directing and producing such a well known franchise, but what we're left with is questionable.

Aang (Noah Ringer) is a young successor in a long line of Avatars, a collected group that can master all elements, air; fire; water; earth. To defeat the Fire Nation, Aang must team with siblings Katara (Nicola Peltz) and Sokka (Jackson Rathbone) to stand any chance of successfully taking down the banished Prince (Dev Patel) and the rest of the Fire Nations soldiers.

The Last Airbender thrives on it's somewhat intellectual storyline, intertwining fictional religion with a new-age war, but teeters on the lines of acceptable for a PG, family-safe adventure flick. Will kids truly understand what is unfolding before them? With a film written as painfully atrocious as this, the real question is, "does it matter?"

Shyamalan's writing is incontrovertibly cack-handed. While the story entertains, the characters are flat, infinitely lifeless and truly, undoubtably, investment-free. Bordering on the downright dislikable, each 'bender' (yes, i know), more so Ringer and Rathbone, are distinctly wooden, whereas Patel, truly breaking into mainstream flicks, is enthusiastic but sadly falls flat due to a severely under-developed character, straying an unimaginable amount from his previous, Oscar winning film Slumdog.

With what can only appear as a multitude of gay innuendos - Shyamalan peaks with lines such as "one day you will become a great bender!" -, it's uncompromising what borders on the hilariously shit-tastic. Is this really what passes as a film nowadays?

With everything handled by Shyamalan falling poisonous, visually, the film is left unscathed. Thrilling and impressively well-constructed, most scenes involving the 'benders' displaying their unique powers are frenetic, clearly proving that, if written and handled with care, the film could have been a high flying summer success.

The Last Airbender continues Night's bad hand, and is about as memorable as the post-converted 3D itself. A truly unforgiving film that will unarguably maintain its high status on the year's worst list. Shyamalan's Devil better be his ticket back to salvation, otherwise i pity the man whose career has been thrown down the toilet quicker than any respected Hollywood director in quite some time.


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