"The Last Airbender," directed by M. Night Shyamalan, is an action-packed adventure that keeps even an avid fan of the animated show guessing what will happen next. The 7-year-old next to me who had a temporary tattoo of an arrow on his forehead (just like Aang) was bright-eyed and tuned in until the very end. In fact, as soon as he got home, he searched online to see if there would be a sequel.
But to someone who watches this movie without any knowledge of the animated show, the combat scenes might seem unique and delayed. For example, it takes firebenders 20 seconds to first move their hands to form a fireball and then to attack their opponent. The earthbender deflects the attack by creating a dirt wall. Fighters face their opponents by contorting their bodies in a martial arts fashion and then using their outer limbs to attack with air, water, earth or fire in battle.
It’s a different kind of movie; but is that necessarily a bad thing? I wouldn’t say that. Known for his supernatural touch with surprise endings, Shyamalan's track record has begun looking a tad bleak because of bad or mixed reviews of his films -- "The Village" and "The Happening," among others. This 2010 movie seems to be getting the same treatment.
The plot: Four nations: air, water, earth and fire, are forced into chaos when the fire nation launches a war against the others. A hundred years have passed and two siblings discover Aang (Noah Ringer), the Avatar, who can manipulate all four elements. Katara (Nicole Peltz) the last waterbender of her tribe, and her brother Sokka (Jackson Rathbone) team up with Aang to restore the balance to their war-torn world. And the “bad guy,” Prince Zuko, played by Dev Patel from "Slumdog Millionaire," is both a closet hero and a young prince who wants to take over his father’s rule and lead the powerful fire nation. He plans to capture the avatar and bring him to his father, but he remains a conflicted character.
Show vs. film: The film fits the entire season of the animated show into one movie, so it's safe to say that it's no easy task. The translation from the show to the movie is well done, but I would have liked to know more about the relationships between the characters. We’ll just have to see how the rest of the story turns out because the end of the film is meant to segue into a sequel.
To the point: Though the acting is somewhat mediocre, the action scenes are intriguing and the scenery is beautiful. Because I'm not a fan of 3-D movies, I saw the 2-D version, and by the time the credits began rolling, my eyes were comfortable and I was satified with my ticket purchase.
I give this film a B.
But let me know what you think. Leave your own review of the movie below.