Starring Noah Ringer, Dev Patel
Running Time 103 Minutes, Rated PG.
Zero Mitch’s out of 5
Mitch Hansch/ movieswithmitch.com
THE LAST M. NIGHT DISASTER?
Now six months into being a movie reviewer, if you’ve been following the website (and why wouldn’t you), you might think of me as a negative nelly for most films and a bonafide movie snob. Guilty to the movie snob charge but let it be known that in the Lord’s year of 2010, this has simply been an awful year for the cinema. Saying that, M. Night Shyamalan’s “The Last Airbender” is not only the worst film so far this year (move over “The Bounty Hunter"), and I mean this, but also one of the top ten worst movies I’ve ever seen in my entire life.
Now students, remember from your studies in Bad Movies 101, the greatest clustermucks of all time are the films made in all out sincerity. Ed Wood was so proud of his “Plan 9 from Outer Space”, John Travolta believed that “Battlefield Earth” would be one of the biggest hits ever, and Tommy Wiseau compared his picture “The Room” to be right up there with “Casablanca”. Now you can add Shyamalan’s “The Last Airbender” to that list of catastrophes. M. Night approaches the film with no campy winks or playfulness but a straightforward melodramatic approach that fails in every way in this appalling adaptation to Nickelodeon’s very popular cartoon.
The plot isn’t worth describing but I’m going to do it real quick anyways. The avatar child Aang (Noah Ringer) returns after a 100-year absence to find out that the Fire nation has declared war on the nations of Air, Earth and Water (Go Captain Planet!). Aang must accept his destiny (which must be to bore me for an afternoon) with the help of some tag along siblings in Katara (Nicola Petz) and Sokka (Jackson Rathbourne) as the shamed Prince Zuko (Dev Patel) tries to regain his father’s respect by capturing Aang. M. Night constipates the screen with enough exposition to keep you in the bathroom for days. So much is explained but it’s all so incomprehensible that it makes the film horribly fascinating for 20 minutes and then goes back to just being annoyingly bad again. The dialogue is laughable, the editing is choppy at best, and the effects are ruined by the 3D that is thrown on at the end to get you to pay the extra three bucks (which I did).
Is it ok to bash young children’s acting? The answer is yes, if you have a prior model of children being able to handle deeper material than this. Look no further for an example then in Shyamalan’s twisted back yard with Haley Joel Osment’s nominated performance in the masterpiece “The Sixth Sense.” Noah Ringer was hired after he sent in a home video of his first-degree black belt skills in Tae-kwondo and his white belt in acting. Nicola Petz raises her eyebrows with every line of horse crap dialogue and I dare you, wait, no I triple-dog dare you to find a scene where Jackson Rathbourne blinks. As the film went on, I was mesmerized by Rathbourne’s unique freaky inability to close his eyes. Most disappointing is Dev Patel’s silly one-note performance. Just because your eyes are always misty and on the verge of crying, doesn’t make you brooding and hurt. Adults sucked it up to, as Aasif Mandvi’s Commander Zhao is beyond bad acting with a less is more approach that is more than less.
I have to believe this is the end of M. Night Shyamalan’s career and it’s off to directing sexy dating service ads that can only air past 2 am. Whatever deal he made with the devil is now officially off. Besides George Lucas, can you think of another director that has put out extremely excellent film gems only to see the quality take such a steep drop? My first zero Mitch film goes to the dubious “The Last Airbender” in this sad and baffling regression of the once relevant M. Night Shyamalan.
“This” is sad and baffling.