In Hollywood there are many directors that the audience can clearly see how they made it into the business of entertaining others. Steven of the Spielbergs is a prime example of this. He's a director that has shown us that bringing dinosaurs back to life or being chased by a giant boulder can actually be entertaining. Not only that but he's changed the way movies are made forever.
Then comes M.Night Shyalamalm, a director who has earned his stay in the realm of filmmaking with such titles as The Sixth Sense, Unbreakable, and why not throw in Signs. These are gems in his arsenal that show his talent and what he's made of. Usually a director can maintain this without getting too over his head about how successful his previous projects were, but once he made The Happening not only did his infamy go up, his popularity took quite the plummit. Its almost as if his previous work got so popular and so far into his head that he forgot how to write good twists. As a fan of his work I refused to turn my back on him. I mean after seeing Unbreakable and it being one of my favorite movies, I couldn't just throw in the towel on M.Night. When I found out he was doing the famed Nickelodeon kids series The Last Airbender, my heart dropped. Finally!! A chance to turn his career around!! A chance to show people that I am not a fool for believing in him!! Thats what was goin through my head at least. (Oh, and a quick note to movie goers out there: Never ever, no matter what the movie may be, never get your hopes up for any movie!!) I'm also a fan of the tv show The Last Airbender......but when I saw M.Nights version, I completely soiled and made stool in my pants! And not the good kind where your get your socks blown off cause of how good it is, but the kind that makes you want to run home to mommy or stay curled up in the fetal position and just think of how many other bad movies are gonna come out before production companies finally come out and say "ENOUGH!!!" Let me tell you how M.Night has completely failed as a once critically acclaimed director to.....well to sh!+ in just one movie!
In a land where the Fire Nation is determined to take over the other nations and soon the entire world, a young boy named Aang the Avatar, must rise and learn the other elements if he hopes to stop tryanny and strife spreading across the land.
This is the basic plot synopsis of The Last Airbender. A pretty simple plot that doesn't have or need giant twists. So we think that he's safe with this story. There are a couple things in the movie adaption that M.Night paid slight attention to and that was the set pieces and scenery. The comparison is very similar to the original cartoon. Granted its not perfect, but out of the many flaws about to be listed in this poor excuse for a movie, this is the one thing he happened to capture... a little. But even with this factor it doesn't give the movie justice or even make it worth watching. Take the actors for example, it wasn't so much that their acting was super horrible, but more they were given horrible direction and dialogue that sounds like it was put together by the kids of Nickleodeon. It reminded me of watching my home videos of my 4th grade play my mother recorded. The kids just didn't seem confident or sure how to deliver or say the lines. Instead of delivering emotion, they deliver confusion behind every piece of dialogue. When they felt like they had to deliver "emotion" they would overdue it with scenes of tears and frustration that makes the audience raise one eyebrow in confusion. We never truly know how any of the characters are feeling either. Even the flashbacks of our main character Aang, are dry. Showing us things that we cant relate to or connect with the character.
One other way the dialogue was poorly used was when a character would say something totally obvious more then once. For example, instead of delivering the scene with acting ability where we the audience can piece it together ourselves they would say something like: " I am really sad and feel like crying because so much bad is happening!" Well no duh!! Don't tell us!! Just show us. Show us how it makes you feel. Show us why you feel unhappy, but please don't tell us. In my opinion as a viewer it totally takes away the from the experience and the story.
An element that is also important is that the background action around the characters feels real. This show almost had none of that. During the "epic" battle scenes in the film, the extras just seemed like they were having giant tea parties with one another. Like M.Night literally said "Everyone choose a partner and play army men." It seemed like he didn't give the extras that much direction at all. He tried to keep it so short and sweet that they didn't know what to do once they were handed their props.
For those of you who don't know about the movie or tv show, the characters are able to manipulate the four elements water, earth, fire, and air. Each element is also apart of an actual style of martial arts. The movie on the other hand would have the characters flailing their arms around and sometimes nothing would even happen. You would be waiting for something cool to happen like a stream of water shoot across the screen, or a rock to fly through the air, but no. Instead we were given scenes of the characters doing what i guess was supposed to be training exercises of them doing nothing but yoga, which made it seem like they were just using those scenes as an excuse to fill the movie. I was just filled with.... confusion.
I understand that some things have to be changed when you create a live action adaption of a comic book, series, novel,etc., but if I'm not mistaken you should keep the plot points and motives that the fans and newcomers can like. In the series, the Fire Nation is hellbent on taking over the Northern Water Tribe. They have to literally be pushed out of the City by Aang once he goes into what is called the Avatar state. He was swatting their ships, water bending their armies and ridding the land of evil all in the form of a giant fish (makes sense when you watch the show) That was epic!!!! I know that a series to movie adaption cant be obtained the same way in just 1 1/2 hrs, but you can still make it meaningful. Intimidating the Fire Nation by creating a giant tsunami and not even delivering the blow wont be enough to make them leave. which is exactly what happened. In the climactic ending of the film, Aang busts out the power of the Avatar state and starts conjuring up some serious Water bending. Once we think this movie is gonna wrap up ok.... it doesn't. Aang doesn't even deliver the final blow. He literally leaves the ginormous wave of water hovering in the air as if to say "I dare you guys to come any closer!" The Fire Nation sees this great power and immediately retreats, leaving the remaining fire benders at the Water Nations doorstep. We never know what happens to those guys because it doesn't show them being taken prisoner, beat up, chased out or whatever. So there are a bunch of Fire Nation soldiers still on the island that haven't been found or destroyed...ok. Aang steps out of the Avatar state, tired and nauseous. I understand he just used his water bending to lift a giant wave of sure death, but it didn't leave us cheering or rooting for him in the end. It was more of a "really? A giant wave that didn't do anything? that's not epic!" Those are the words of my own nephews and they're 5 and 7. If they could see right through what was supposed to be made for kids to think was cool, it didn't work.
These are just little pieces of the film that bothered me and everyone else that was in the theater with me. I remember it well. Everyone was dressed as his/her favorite character. And all of them had seemed to go all out. The number one character that everyone dressed up as was of course Aang the Avatar. Painted faces, shaved heads, costumed and even jewelry resided on each of the fans. It reminded me of Pirates of the Caribbean opening night. I honestly didn't think there were this many fans of the franchise. It gave me goose bumps. People couldn't wait to see this movie! Once the Title appeared almost every person in the theater applauded with joy, but when the credits rolled... not one person applauded. I heard a couple kids yell "Seriously?!" and "I stayed till 1 in the morning for this?!". I couldn't help but agree with the rest of the sobbing, pissed off fans. To make a movie out of something so successful, award winning, and extremely entertaining and put everything into the movie that was none of those things is like giving us the bird. To see so many fans walk out of a theater with their heads hung low and spirits withering has to be some sort of wake up call. I guess that's what we get after having our expectations so high am I right? After witnessing what all the others only talked about, I've finally thrown in the towel. This could be the pavement on the road to the end of M. Night Shyamalans career. It reminds me of when DC Comics came out with that edition of The Death of Superman. They could verily easily do one for M. Night Shyamalan. They could even add a big twist at the end. The twist would be that M. Nights career actually never really existed.