Director: M. Night Shyamalan
Starring: Who in the world cares?
I think Roger Ebert best described what it is to experience The Last Airbender, which was written, produced, and directed by M. Night Shyamalan, whose films have progressively gotten worse since The 6th Sense. The way Mr. Ebert described it can be summed up with this quote:
Sounds pretty rough doesn’t it? Well, the critic is absolutely spot on in using that sentence. This film creates a new definition for how bad a film can be. I knew coming into this that this movie had a lot of bad reviews and I’m a little late to the party, but I’m in agreement that this is right up there with any film you could ever consider as the worst of all time. So let’s see just how many horrible things stood out to me in this film.
First of all, there’s the dialogue. The conversations between the characters in this film make George Lucas’ written dialogue look like it was created and performed by geniuses. You know those children’s books that have one sentence on each page and when you read them you have to pause while you’re turning the page? Well that’s what the people on this movie sound like when they talk. God forbid that they could put together a compound sentence while communicating with one another. This was something that has been becoming more and more apparent in Shyamalan’s films (see The Happening) but I was shocked at how dreadful of an experience it was just to listen to people talking in this film.
Speaking of talking, another thing that really got on my nerves with this film was the unnecessary use of a narrative voice-over. This was only a minor annoyance at the beginning of the film (one of my pet peeves in a movie is when they have something to read at the beginning of the film and then a narrator jumps in to read it for you as it scrolls across the screen. This is one of the lazier things that can be seen in a movie today. I mean, why even bother with having the text if you’re going to have a narrator reading it anyways? And don’t even think about using the excuse that it’s for the hearing impaired out there because that’s what subtitles are for!). Anyway, the voice-over is not only useless, it also reminds me of how annoying the girl who talks is. Okay, now I’m just getting mean but in my defense it was a really bad movie. Basically the narration was useless because the person narrating was describing something that was already being shown on screen. Now, one may ask what’s wrong with this and say that a lot of movies do that. And yes, a lot of movies use voice-over narration to describe something that is happening on the screen, but I haven’t seen a movie use it this poorly ever, because normally a voice-over should add something to the film that maybe the audience would have trouble picking up. Boy this paragraph is getting really long so if you don’t understand what I’m saying right now, too bad. I’m moving on to the next bad thing about this movie, because I don’t have all night.
What should I attack next in this film? Hmm. How about special effects? Well, the production budget for this film is listed at approximately $150 million. That’s a lot of money. And wouldn’t you know it? This movie looks awful. I didn’t see this in 3D but I can only imagine how much worse that would have made this look. At times I thought I was watching a hand drawn cartoon. That would be fine and all if it were a stylistic choice, but this film is supposed to be live action and when the digitally enhanced images look as bad as they did in this film, someone failed miserably. And yes, I do realize that the film is based on some Nickelodeon kids cartoon, but that’s no excuse. There seemed to be a huge focus on the special effects as well as there was a lot of slow-motion used when the people were using their powers. This helped to put the horrible special effects on screen for as long as possible (smooth move their Shyamalan). It was as if the creator of this film really wanted to just show some really cool action sequences instead of focusing on plot. Of course none of this looked cool.
So I guess since I just mentioned the plot that should be the next thing I should mention. The problem with that is that this film seems to be devoid of any decent storytelling capability. There really isn’t much of a plot to this film. I could run through a quick outline of what the story is supposed to be about but nobody in their right minds should want to read that. Essentially there are just a lot of plot devices that are conveniently dropped in when it’s decided that the movie has to change locations or show an action sequence and these plot devices aren’t necessarily organized in a coherent manner. My guess to the reasoning for that is that the movie wants you to become confused so you think that it’s supposed to be some deep emotional experience that you just don’t understand (I’m lying. I made that up. This movie is an empty abyss of nothingness that no one should be able to care about).
Okay, I’m done. I don’t really want to mention the actors because they couldn’t have possibly done a good job with such an abysmal film. I’m not going to give any of them credit for anything good though because the performers in this were all one-note characters that added nothing to the film (I really need to stop before I go on this rant).
Overall, in case you couldn’t tell from the previous paragraphs, this is a bad movie. I believe that M. Night Shyamalan hasn’t reached rock bottom. He’s reached below rock bottom, into the depths of Hell and created something so horrendous that it will not be possible for him to make anything worse than this excremental pile of nothingness.
My Rating: 0 out of 5
* I’d like to mention the camera work that was also really terrible in this movie. The camera movement did not make anything interesting in this film and at times made some of the action sequences seem even more dull than they should have been. The camera was like a Michael Bay camera moving at a sloth’s pace. It was as if Shyamalan wanted the audience to experience an entire Michael Bay film in slow-motion. Why would anyone want to do that to somebody?
** There are obviously supposed to be sequels to this movie. May I just say, God help us all!