Friday, 13 August 2010

REVIEW: The Last Airbender

And lo, the Avatar did light up like an emergency exit sign.

Right. To play devil's advocate, M. Night Shyamalan is to my mind a very talented director. At his best he's a master of tension, of suspense even, in ways that not too many directors are capable of even in their wildest dreams. But his CV reads like something that could analogize the term diminishing returns in a way that makes any other attempt seem redundant. It seems like each time out he sets a standard of shitness that seems definitive, he couldn't make a movie worse then the Village, well except Lady in The Water. But that's where the freefall stops because that movie was such an arrogant piece of shit that it could not, I say could not be...Fuck you The Happening. Alright where approaching amateurism at a fearsome pace here, it would be a joke unworthy of Michael McIntyre for such a talented guy to make a movie worse then this. He just can't. Can't.

Please, we're in the Obama age now. Yes we can, and yes he can. Only this time, he pissed away a sickass budget too, meaning the odious end product is somehow more offensive. I can't believe this guy made Unbreakable ten years ago. The Last Airbender plays like a ten year old's incoherent fantasy scribblings, with about that standard of dialogue too. It's as if Shyamalan had each character's motivations open in a word document as he wrote the script in case, you know, he wrote some words that a human being might actually say. Particularly Slumdog Millionaire Dev Patel's character, who is trying to catch the last Airbender ( or the avatar, if you will) so he can go home.

" I have to capture the Avatar, so I can go home. "

" I'm not leaving until I capture the Avatar, only then can I go home."

" I almost caught the Avatar, and was so close to going home."

Believe you me I'm underselling it. Patel says something along these lines about twenty or so times in the movie. But I'm content to give the kid a pass for this one, because I think its such a terrible script, the worst Shyamalan has ever written and he's powered home some balls, that no-one is going to come of well. I think Patel doesn't embarrass himself and gives it his best shot, similarly I semi-enjoyed The Daily Show's Aasif Mandvi as the villain of the piece, but apart from that its a washout. The lead white kids in particular, Noah Ringer who plays Ahn the Avatar, Nicola Peltz and Jackson Rathbone who play siblings that just kind of follow the Avatar around, are so unbelievably wooden, so unbelievably awful that it makes want to apologize to Daniel Radcliffe and Emma Watson most profusely. Ringer in particular, clearly hired for his kung-fu abilities rather then his acting skills is just an embarrassment. I don't even want to make a joke about it. Except that I just did. But now I don't, the true consequences of its incompetence having sunken in, and I just want to commiserate the state of cinema.

What's tragic about it is that Shyamalan hasn't sold out. In his head, he's still making great, original movies. But that's part of the problem. What's happened to Shyamalan is what everyone said happened to Tarantino. Only this time its actually true. The guy believed his own myth to the point where he both disappeared up his own ass (casting himself as the messiah in one of his own movies I believe) and thought he didn't have to work as hard to get here. He's a cautionary tale as to what can happen to you if you have too much confidence in your own abilities. I still think the guys talented, nothing could convince me otherwise, but it seems I'm only able to talk about that talent in the past tense, because as long as he's making movies like The Last Airbender, he's a laughing stock.

Rating: 3/10

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