So What Went Wrong with The Last Airbender?

M. Night Shyamalan just can't please you people! For once, he does a movie without all his usual trademarks -- the surprise ending, the Philadelphia setting, the vainglorious directorial cameo -- and still, he can't catch a critical break. What went wrong with his latest effort, The Last Airbender? Here are four of the biggest problems:

The 3D

A la Clash of the Titans, Airbender got a terrible post-production conversion to 3D that made it look dark and blurry (at worst) and flat and 2D (at best). I watched almost half of it with my 3D glasses off, and in non-action scenes, you'd be hard pressed to tell the difference. Actually, that's not true: those scenes looked even better with the glasses off, because they were suddenly brighter and more colorful. "M. Night Shyamalan's retrofit produces the drabbest, darkest, dingiest movie of any sort I've seen in years," complained Roger Ebert in his review. "You know something is wrong when the screen is filled with flames that have the vibrancy of faded Polaroids."


Shyamalan is no Shakespeare, but he knows how to get a catchphrase into the lexicon, as The Sixth Sense proved. Even Signs had some clever lines ("There's a monster outside my room, can I have a glass of water?"). In Airbender, alas, it's like he didn't even try. All the dialogue is expository, leaving no room for character or memorable turns of phrase. It's like watching your least favorite Final Fantasy cut scenes come to life.


By the way, all that expository dialogue? It's spent setting up events that don't even happen in this movie. We're told numerous times that the hero, Aang, has to master bending water, fire, and earth before he can complete his journey. All he gets to is water. The big bad guys? They mostly stay out of the final battle. The teased-at confrontation between Zuko and his evil sister? We don't even meet the sister until the last shot of the movie. Guys, it's pointless to set up the second and third movies if this one isn't any good.

Sense of Humor

Also, why so serious? This is a movie about kids with magic powers, and yet everyone is so freakin' grim all the time. I get that the filmmakers hoped this would be a mythological franchise on par with Star Wars. Unfortunately, instead of learning from the fun and adventure of A New Hope, they've made a CG grind that apes the prequels. Sorry, Night. Maybe next time?


  • JAPOY says:

    it was cramped all over,
    the dialogues doesn't fit in place as it had in the series...and yes, it was way too serious and the parts where they tried to make it funny didn't work either...

    the personality of the characters was completely lost compared from the series, Aang was way too serious, the actor was not even likeable... Yes, Sokka is serious is the series but it is his seriousness that brings comedy to his character and the movie didn't quite get that factor...there is also something wrong with Katara's character, even with Iroh's, duh, even the protagonist's character was disgusting...And the BENDING didn't look amazing either as a movie about MAGIC would...the acting part also falls flat...

    i don't like the ADDED dialogues either, they could have at least used the same words that they have in the series but no, they have to change things up, and even add unnecessary words...they did get some of the important phrases, but they did not fit them in the right places, for example, when Aang said to Zuko, "we could be friends, you know."

    For me, I would not like to see the sequel to this movie...what i would like to happen is that they immediately make a remake with the SPOT-ON casting, script writing and directing...and i don't mind if they don't make in in 3D either, in fact, i would be happier if they just stick to 2D...