Oh dear. Writer/director M Night Shyamalan’s career began with so much promise – the atmospheric The Sixth Sense, the quirky Unbreakable (plus he even wrote the script for cute Stuart Little!) – but since 2004’s disappointing The Village, his career has been on a downward spiral (Lady In The Water, The Happening) which isn’t halted with this, his first movie as a director of a movie aimed at kids. Based on the Nickelodeon animated TV series Avatar: The Last Airbender (the word ‘Avatar’ dropped from the movie’s title due to a certain other quite successful film with the same name), this is an action adventure about Aang (Ringer), a being called an Avatar who can control the elements and is the one destined to bring the four nations of fire, earth, water and air together, united against the nasty Firebenders. Or something.
Humorless, hampered by a confusing script packed with stupid dialogue and wooden performances from the cast, this was further doomed thanks to a late in the day decision to release the movie in cinemas in 3D. Filmed in 2D, the process used to convert it makes the film look all murky and dulls the special effects, which, added to the clunky narration (that tries – and fails – to get us interested in what the hell is going on), makes the whole fantasy adventure even less appealing. Kids who liked the TV series will miss the charm, entertainment and sparkle of it, while those new to the story will simply switch off and choose something less boring to watch instead. (Note – this was supposed to be the first part of an Airbender trilogy…)
Is The Last Airbender suitable for kids? Here are our parents’ notes...
The kids are in peril on occasion, but no child who manages to stay awake throughout should be scared by it.