Ugh. The Last Airbender just sucks. There's nothing more to say. But if you want to know more, please read on. M. Night Shayamalan films have just gotten terrible in the past decade. Sixth Sense was alright, but I do not think it was as great as many say. Signs was pretty good. The Village was interesting. Everything else has been awful. Not even a live action dramatization of an excellent anime series, as The Last Airbender was meant to be, could change this.
There is so much wrong with this film. Where should I start? The movie takes place in a fantasy world broken into four hostile tribes centered around the four elements. In this world, certain individuals possess the power of "bending", or controlling their respective elements with the force of their will. So, fire benders can control fire, water benders water, etc. Only one bender, called the Avatar, can control them all, but this Avatar has been lost for one hundred years. The film begins with two siblings, a brother and sister whose names I can't recall because their characters are so forgettable, find the Avatar frozen in the ice, who happens to be a ten year old boy. The rest of the film depicts the journeys of the Avatar as he tries to free the tribes of his world from the dominion of the evil fire nation and establish himself as the Avatar-Messiah.
That's it for plot. The biggest problem with this film is the acting. The acting is SO BAD. It is literally some of the worst acting I have ever seen. Rather than tell you about it, take a look for yourself. Look at this intense dialogue:
Oscar material, eh?
There are a lot of parts in this film that are supposed to be epic but are instead totally fail. Like this "war cry" by the water nation. Would you be intimidated by this?
How about this villain. Does he look threatening, or just plain silly?
That was the main villain of the film!
The screenplay is also terrible. How this phenomenal writing? Did these screen writers ever consider using a thesaurus?
I think you get the point. But, if you need more convincing that this movie is not good, there is a very prevalent element of oriental mysticism. It is not present in a kind of background, innocuous way, as in, say, Kung-Fu Panda, but in a very preachy manner, more akin to James Cameron's Avatar. Reincarnation is taken for granted. The benders worship spirits who are incarnated in the forms of sacred animals. The protagonist, Ong, frequently requests to meditate in a "spiritual place" where his eyes glow demonically and he enters the spirit world to converse with a dragon, something that is never quite explained. In short, this film definitely promotes a non-Catholic worldview and its presence is so heavy as to be difficult to ignore.
This movie just stinks. Not only is it terrible because of the horrid acting, but it really fails because of what it could have been. The concept of benders controlling the elements is really quite interesting, and given the special effects that are possible these days, this film could have been so much more in the hands of a talented director. But as it stands, the terrible acting, second rate screenwriting and heavy promotion of eastern mysticism make this film a waste of time.