By ANDY MORGAN
There are very few movies I completely and utterly abhor. Generally, I can usually find something positive or likeable in a film, even if said cinema is receiving disgust and scorn en masse from most fall-in-line movie critics. I relish the truth that I don’t always see eye-to-eye with most critics and can find some thread of hope in Hollywood’s efforts. Such is not the case with M. Night Shyamalan’s The Last Airbender. I literally hated every cringe-inducing minute I spent at the Cineplex with the useless 3D glasses stuck to my face. And I’m even angrier because Shyamalan duped me back in 2008 with The Happening, another dreadful catastrophe from the guy behind Signs, one of my favorite movies of all-time. He’s been on the Tour of Suck since The Village and given every opportunity to succeed, he falls flat. Shame on Shyamalan.
I’m not going to spend a lot of time talking about the story, because, frankly, I didn’t know what the hell was going on most of the time. The movie opens in some arctic, Igloo-infested area that is home to the Southern Water Tribe, whatever that is. We meet two of the main protagonists, Katara (Nicola Peltz) and her older brother Sokka (Jackson Rathbone), who, while having a frozen water-fight and hunting for food, stumble across some midget monk named Aang (Noah Ringer) frozen in the ice with some creature that looks like a Star Wars tauntaun and Falkor from The Neverending Story had a drunken, intimate night in the Hollywood Crazy Creature Stable. Apparently this 12 year-old Aang kid is the so-called Avatar, a being able to bend all of the four elements – fire, water, earth and air. Aang is perky after being frozen for 100 years, so the kids take him back to their village full of white people and, by my count, two actual Inuit persons.
Oddly enough, the banished Prince of the Fire Nation, Zuko (Dev Patel), is cruising in his steampunk yacht nearby and goes to investigate, whereby he realizes Aang is definitely the Avatar and he knows if he takes him back to his father his honor will be restored. Of course, this isn’t going to happen – pouty Katara and stone-faced Sokka hop on Mr. Snuffleupagus and rescue Aang from the Fire Nation, who, ironically, all look like terrorists. Apparently if you are a person of color in this movie, you are an evildoer.
The last third of Shyamalan’s disaster is basically spent at the Fortress of Solitude where the Northern Water Tribe holds court. These folks have serious skills when it comes to water bending and Katara and Aang go there to rally the troops and hone their abilities. The Fire Nation comes calling and, with the help of Industrial Light and Magic (damn you George Lucas!), Aang sends them home with a giant spanking from a humongous tidal wave. The movie wraps and we’re left to believe Shyamalan has more in store for fans in forthcoming movies. I’m not a psychic, but it’s a safe bet to assume that’s not going to happen, and let’s all breath a deep sigh of relief for that.
So why does The Last Airbender suck? Well, it seems to me The Last Airbender universe is massive, with an expansive backstory, and Shyamalan rolls that into a plodding, poorly acted 103 minute runtime iced with terrible dialogue and third-rate CGI. It is nothing short of excruciating. Fans of the Nickelodeon animated series will be pissed off Shyamalan butchered their big screen joy and non-fans will be furious for having wasted hard-earned cash on a full-price ticket.