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The Last Airbender (2010) CAM 300mb --> 1LINK ONLY<--

Post  Admin on Thu Jul 08, 2010 9:22 pm

M. Night Shyamalan (director) / M. Night Shyamalan (screenplay)
CAST: Noah Ringer … Aang
Dev Patel … Prince Zuko
Nicola Peltz … Katara
Jackson Rathbone … Sokka
Shaun Toub … Uncle Iroh
Aasif Mandvi … Commander Zhao
Cliff Curtis … Fire Lord Ozai
Seychelle Gabriel … Princess Yue


M. Night Shyamalan’s live-action “The Last Airbender” is the first
part of a proposed trilogy, and is it ever obvious. As a result, there
is no real conclusion, just a series of set-ups for something grander in
the horizon. If, that is, the film proves profitable enough to warrant a
sequel or two. Mind you, while this is a very real problem with the
film, it’s not the only problem. If you did not know that
Shyamalan had been slaving on the project for the last two years, you
would be hard-pressed to guess that he not only wrote but also directed
the film. This does not feel like a film from the same man who
gave us “The Sixth Sense” and “Unbreakable”. Then again, considering his
more recent outputs, the egocentric “Lady in the Water” and the
unintentionally hilarious “The Happening”, maybe “Airbender” won’t be
that hard to associate with Shyamalan after all…
“The Last Airbender”, based on the Nickelodeon cartoon “Avatar: The
Last Airbender” (the “Avatar” part was excised as not to confuse it with
James Cameron’s film, though considering the titanic (get it?) box
office of Cameron’s “Avatar”, that might not have been a wise move),
comes with heavy baggage. The animated series is essentially a
children’s action-adventure show with children heroes. Shyamalan has
translated the original source as best he can, with newcomer Noah Ringer
standing in for Aang, the franchise’s young hero. Aang is the latest in
a long line of mythical Avatars, essentially the fictional land’s Beat
Cop. When the film’s four individual nations – Earth, Water, Fire, and
the Air Nomads – get a little too big for their britches, it’s the
Avatar’s job to summon all the four elements at his disposal through the
art of “bending” and whup some ass, thus maintaining “balance”.

Alas, it’s been 100 years since the last Avatar disappeared, and in
that time the Fire Nation, led by the bellicose and (not so much) father
of the year candidate Fire Lord Ozai (Cliff Curtis) have been
terrorizing its neighbors. The Fire Nation, whose soldiers have the
ability to bend fire – that is, control fire through, for lack of a
better word, kung fu – have razed the land with their “machines”, a
source of much derision among the other Nations. In the naturalistic, world of “The Last
Airbender”, everyone lives in harmony with nature, so the Fire Nation’s
clunky war machines are seen as instruments of brute, ugly violence and
insults against the nature that everyone cherishes so much. It’s all
very obvious and “sledgehammer to the face”, yet something else the
film’s script has in common with Cameron’s film.
Into this world arrives young Aang, who is found frozen in ice by
siblings Katara (Nicola Peltz, also our narrator) and Sokka (Jackson
Rathbone), members of the over-powered and subjugated Southern Water
Tribe. Aang doesn’t know it yet, but he soon discovers that he’s been
frozen in ice for the last 100 years, and his presence has alerted young
Fire Prince Zuko (Dev Patel, “Slumdog Millionaire”), who has been
scouring the land all these years in search of the Avatar in order to
find redemption and somehow get back into the good graces of dear old
dad. Zuko is assisted by his kindly uncle Iroh (Shaun Toub), but is
resisted by douchey Fire Commander Zhao (Aasif Mandvi), who spends the
entire movie being evil and, well, more evil. If it isn’t obvious by
now, subtlety is not exactly the strong point of “The Last Airbender”,
and I’m afraid that’s just one of many issues the film can’t conquer.

It’s not so much that “The Last Airbender” is a bad movie, it’s just
that … well, it just kind of exists for the sake of existing.
I’ll be perfectly honest with you, I had a hard time trying to decide if
the film is bad, or if it is just mediocre. One thing I can safely say
with 100% certainty is that the film is never outstanding. Not once in
the entire two hours. It’s as if M. Night Shyamalan spent so much time
with the little things – getting all the details of the water city
stronghold just right, the nooks and crannies of the Fire Nation ships,
the colorful outfits of the various tribes — that he forgot to make the
film good. Oh sure, the sets are huge and the CGI is always
outstanding, and all the “bending” effects are seamlessly integrated
into the scenes with the live characters, but … well, what else is
there? Not much, I’m afraid.
I’m reminded of George Lucas’s “Star Wars” prequels. All three films
were marvels of CG technology, and you absolutely knew, without a doubt,
that Lucas wrote those films specifically so he could show off the
newfangled technology he had come up with since “Return of the Jedi”,
and not necessarily to tell a coherent, interesting, or even believable
story. Now don’t get me wrong: I’m not demanding that “Star Wars” be
believable. Likewise, I don’t care if “The Last Airbender’s” world is
believable. There are guys using kung fu to throw fire, water, and dirt
at each other? That sounds cool, I can dig it. Unfortunately, watching
“The Last Airbender” I couldn’t shake the notion that this is what
Shyamalan’s career should have started out with before he eventually
matured into the man who gave us “The Sixth Sense” and “Unbreakable”. In
fact, he seems to be regressing as an effective storyteller, which is
something he should be very worried about.

“The Last Airbender” is led by young Noah Ringer, a novice actor who
was doing martial arts showcases in tournaments one day and fronting a
big-budget Summer Event studio film the next. It’s one hell of an
impossible situation for the kid (what was he supposed to do, turn it
down?), and the young man gives it his all, but he’s no Dakota Fanning
or Haley Joel Osment. Then again, I’m sure those two couldn’t throw down
like Ringer, so that’s one thing he has over them. This is actually one
of the few areas in the film where Shyamalan does well – he smartly
keeps Ringer from having to shoulder the entire film, and has surrounded
him with a large cast to share the workload. Nicola Peltz and Jackson
Rathbone have almost as much screentime as Ringer, and half of the film
is devoted to the life and times of Dev Patel’s Zuko. It’s curious, but
the film feels like two different movies – the tortured, adult story of
Zuko’s quest, and the whimsical adventures of Aang, Katara, and Sokka.
“The Last Airbender” is not a terrible film, but it is a film that
makes you wish Shyamalan had done more with the opportunity (not to
mention the budget he had been given). And while it would have pissed
off the diehard fans, it might have been wiser to cast an older Aang and
made the film more than just a series of bloodless, mostly
consequence-free CG combat. Despite the film’s talk of war and conquest,
it’s never more than child’s play (the movie is rated PG), which seems
justifiable given the film’s original source material. The big leap in
faith here is that Shyamalan expects to be able to make parts two and
three, and has given us a film that is only one-third of the whole
story. The problem is that it feels very much like an
incomplete movie, which might not have been such a bad thing if
audiences are only asked to pay one-third of the ticket price
to see it. Alas, that is not the case.

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