THE LAST AIRBENDER: Reviews - Critics.


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Rohan

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THE LAST AIRBENDER: Reviews - Critics.
« on: June 27, 2010, 01:23:07 PM »
First review is out and I don't know what to say. This person doesn't seem to have any credibility like Peter Travers or any other famous critics. Also, on the 4th paragraph SPOILERS STARTS.

For the first pop-culture entry on the OMC Tees blog, I?ve decided to post my review of M. Night Shayamalan?s upcoming film ?The Last Airbender.? Last week, a friend of mine invited me to attend a special screening of the film. Despite never seeing the cartoon, I thought the trailer looked really cool and since I?m a BIG fan of martial arts films, I figured it would be a fun evening out. Plus, I wanted to give Mr. Shayamalan one last chance to impress me since he?s had a pretty spotty record since ?The Sixth Sense.? Note: SPOILERS begin in paragraph four and they are announced.

First, let?s talk casting.  Judging by the previews, I assumed the movie was going to be a martial arts film set in Asia and was totally expecting to see a huge cast of Asian actors. Boy was I wrong! The first scene of the movie plays (after some really cool 3-D credits I might add) and to my surprise the main two characters Katara (Nicola Peltz) and Sokka (Jackson Rathbone) are white. A few moments later, the star of the film, Aang (Noah Ringer), is introduced and I found myself leaning over to my friend to whisper ?is that kid Asian?? She replied, ?I don?t know, maybe he?s mixed.? As the film progressed, and Ringer?s southern accent presented itself, I realized two things. One, the casting for this movie is way off and two, my hopes and dreams for a kid martial artist on the same level as Hung Man Ting (Miu Tse) from Jet Li?s ?New Legend of Shaolin? (click here) were dashed.

On to the movie?Overall, I thought film was mediocre and all of the acting was pretty lousy across the board. The way the actors delivered each line of dialogue made me cringe and the people behind me sigh. It felt like the actors had spent so much time learning their lines that they had no time to work on making their characters believable. However, this may not have been all their fault since nearly every line of dialogue was so on the nose. Usually movies like this meticulously reveal just enough information about each character and the story to keep us intrigued?not this movie. If you want to know why Princess Yue has blue eyes, she?s going to tell you in a two minute dissertation EXACTLY why her eyes are blue. This struck me as odd since Mr. Shayamalan is known for his ?twist? endings and was famously able to keep all of us in the dark with the big reveal in the ?Sixth Sense.? I thought how could there be such mystery to those characters (from his other movies), yet these characters in Airbender are singing like canary?s every time they appear on the screen.

SPOILERS BEGIN HERE?


Sadly, character ambiguity wasn?t the only thing missing from this movie, there also seemed to be a lack of character development. Zuko (Dev Patel) and his father Firelord Ozai (Cliff Curtis) had some serious father/son beef in this film. This beef could have really been played out to be the ultimate family feud and give Zuko and Firelord Ozai some real character depth. Instead, their whole storyline fell totally flat with talk, talk, talk. There was a LOT of talking about what happened to make their relationship so estranged but there was no real action or scenes to show us firsthand how Zuko was banished from the family or how Firelord Ozai preferred Zuko?s sister over him. Actually, all talk and no action seemed to be the common theme throughout this entire film.

Two more characters who suffered from Mr. Shayamalan?s zero character development syndrome was Sokka and Princess Yue. Instead of us slowly watching their love for each other grow, we simply see Sokka arrive at the Water Nation one day, he makes eye contact with Princess Yue for a moment, and then abracadabra?in the very next scene, they?re deeply in love. Of course one of the main characters comes out and tells us that they?ve now been at the Water Nation for weeks now but we never get the chance to see this. Therefore it feels rushed and we don?t really get a chance to explore the Water Nation with the main characters before the bad guys arrive. Sigh.

Finally there was Aang. I really wanted to care for Aang but the nonchalant way his back story was presented made it really hard to feel sorry for him. So he runs away from the monastery and when he returns a hundred years later, all of the monks who raised him have been annihilated by the Fire Nation. That?s a pretty dire situation for a kid to deal with. Unfortunately, all the film shows us when Aang returns to the scene of the crime is a sea of skeletons scattered across a field. Aang looked pretty sad but the audience sure didn?t seem to care. I think for us to really feel something for Aang it might have worked better if maybe we see him run away right before the monastery is invaded. This way we have an emotional connection to what Aang is feeling when he returns home. A similar film that did this well and rather quickly was ?The Golden Child.? Before the Golden Child was kidnapped by Sardo Numspa and his cronies, there was a scene where several monks were killed in order for them to kidnap the Golden Child. Without two words of dialogue, this scene made us feel sorry for the Golden Child since he?s just witnessed his people being wiped out right before his eyes and we know that this kid must be something special for Numspa to go through so much trouble to get him.

What was good about the movie you might ask? Well, Shaun Toub was really good as Uncle Iroh, he presented some depth with his character but unfortunately it was never totally fleshed out. M. Night Shayamalan finally did a movie where he didn?t cast himself. The film also had some really nice special effects and the costumes were outstanding.  James Newton Howard did a phenomenal job with composing the music from start to finish. He?s sure to get another Oscar nom for this one. And eventhough Dev Patel?s portrayal of Zuko started out with a lot of overacting, he improved a lot by the end of the movie.

To conclude, my main issue with Airbender was its lack of subtlety. Shayamalan had a tendency through the film and its dialogue to force feed us every little nugget of information rather than trusting that we ?d be smart enough to figure  things out for ourselves. Having not seen the cartoon, I can?t really comment on whether the movie does or does not do it justice. However, I will say that as a martial arts, fantasy action film, Airbender was pretty painful to watch. The film ended with a total set-up for the sequel to come but after reading about all the controversy surrounding the casting choices and the lackluster performances in the movie, I have to wonder if Part II will ever see the light of day. I?m really interested to see what happens when the film hits theaters next week.

Note: Just to let you guys know that the author of this review is a chick. I have nothing against chicks, but some chicks that are busy in their make ups and hair actually review movies too... 
« Last Edit: June 27, 2010, 01:26:32 PM by Rohan »

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Re: THE LAST AIRBENDER: Reviews - Critics.
« Reply #1 on: June 27, 2010, 01:32:08 PM »
POSITIVE REVIEW


Product Rating: **** 4 Stars
Pros: Excellent effects, Decent hero story, Decent acting

Cons: Very obvious set-up/story arcs.

The Bottom Line: A surprisingly engaging fantasy film geared for youngsters, "The Last Airbender" is tight enough to entertain adults as well.

Review


It has been a long time since I saw a good fantasy hero story that I actually enjoyed enough to enthusiastically recommend. Appropriately enough, the same may be said for movies by writer and director M. Night Shyamalan. Both streaks have ended, though with the emergence of ?The Last Airbender? and Shyamalan finally has the franchise he always wanted (?Unbreakable? was supposed to be the first in a film series, but its commercial failure prevented the director from continuing with that). In many ways, ?The Last Airbender,? which is Shyamalan?s 2010 entry into Summer Blockbuster Season is a very typical hero story, but the density of its opening instantly clues the viewer into the beginning of a franchise, whether or not Shyamalan wanted that feel to it. In other words, even from the beginning, there is an appropriately epic quality to the film.

It ought to be noted right up front that: 1. ?The Last Airbender? is a remake or reimagining of the anime work ?Avatar: The Last Airbender,? and 2. I have never seen an episode of ?Avatar: The Last Airbender,? read any of the manga nor even seen any of the new action figures that accompany this film. I went into the preview screening of it a complete blank slate. That said, ?The Last Airbender? is an ambitious start to the franchise, even if it seems like Shyamalan and his production crew had to pull punches at certain moments.

There are four known elements in the world: Fire, Air, Earth and Water. The world has been devastated by a long war waged by the Fire Nation upon the Earth and Water Nations (Air has pretty much already fallen to the Fire Nation and those who identify with Air are now nomadic and spread thin). Hope, however, comes in the form of Aang. Aang appears to be only twelve years old, but he is actually far older and he is the last of the protectors and manipulators of Air, an Avatar known as an Airbender. Aang finds himself in the company of the Water Tribe and Sokka and his younger sister, Katara. Aang has the ability to airbend, manipulate air to do its bidding, but he soon learns that the other elements may be within his grasp with the right training.

As a result, Aang, Sokka and Katara set off for the north pole where they hope to find a master of waterbending who might be able to teach Aang how to waterbend and help them to repel the Fire Nation. Unfortunately for the heroes, they are hunted by the disgraced Prince Zuko, who hopes to regain the natural line to the throne by capturing Aang and prove himself to Lord Ozai. But just as Zuko is hunting the young Airbender and his friends, so too are other Fire Nation leaders and all signs point that if Aang falls, the world will fall to Fire!

?The Last Airbender? is an ambitious start to a fantasy series that feels incredibly familiar in some ways. M. Night Shyamalan, who wrote the movie, is clearly not attempting to reinvent the wheel with the hero narrative and the plot for ?The Last Airbender? is simple and direct in a way that will not surprise most moviegoers. Given that this film was co-created by Nickelodeon Movies, it is no surprise that the plot is kept somewhat simple with reversals that one suspects even young people will see coming. Even so, it is not unenjoyable and there are moments that certainly seek to push the envelope of a fantasy film geared toward youngsters.

Even so, there is very little that is truly bothersome for parents in ?The Last Airbender.? Despite having pretty incredible special effects at moments, the relationships are kept very much platonic. Aang appears to be 12 and his friends are only a few years older than him. The movie plays much more like a buddy film than a movie that is building romantic interests between the protagonists (much like the early ?Harry Potter? films). And like many movies with a hero in the process of becoming, Aang goes through a lot of training and dispenses and receives a great deal of expository dialogue. The movie is packed with enough information to make the universe it is set in seem plausible without it ever slowing the pace down or feeling the like the viewer is being unnecessarily lectured.

Aang is a likable protagonist as well. He has all the characteristics of the archetypal hero, including the desire to do good and to help those around him. What Shyamalan manages to do well with Aang is present the idea of responsibility and the way it clashes with Aang?s inherent desires to have fun and do his own thing make him a much more compelling and realistic protagonist. Similarly, Prince Zuko is appropriately fleshed out for a villain who might otherwise appear monolithic. Zuko is the disgraced leader and while there are moments he seems like he might simply be acting out of a sense of entitlement, his desire to regain his position as legitimate heir to the throne seems to truly come from his desire to see his people excel.

Zuko is played by Dev Patel, who might still best be known for ?Slumdog Millionaire? (reviewed at: http://www.epinions.com/content_453693705860 ). In ?The Last Airbender,? he sublimates his good guy nature and presents a character who is hurt, angry and works masterfully as a villain. In fact, the only real difficulty with Patel?s performance is believing his character is so young. Similarly, Jackson Rathbone (Sokka) and Nicola Peltz (Katara) give decent supporting performances that make one want to see where they might go in the future.

But much of the film hinges on the performance of Noah Ringer, who plays Aang. Ringer is actually a tween and he is charged with portraying a character who only appears to be so young. Ringer has moments when he stares, when he sets his jaw and when he speaks where he effectively connotes his character?s true age and that type acting ability is certainly uncommon. Ringer succeeds with what he has to and he holds his own as well in the physical scenes.

As far as the special effects go, they work in ?The Last Airbender,? but are nothing groundbreaking. Fans of big special effects films will be pleased, just as fans of drama will be happy that Shyamalan does not go over-the-top with them.

Ultimately, ?The Last Airbender? does just what one hopes a summer popcorn movie will do: it entertains and makes one care about the characters. Who could ask for more?

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Re: THE LAST AIRBENDER: Reviews - Critics.
« Reply #2 on: June 27, 2010, 01:38:19 PM »
on 1st review she says she saw traielrs but was shocked to see white people  LOL

yeah thats believable

Rohan

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Re: THE LAST AIRBENDER: Reviews - Critics.
« Reply #3 on: June 27, 2010, 01:41:13 PM »
on 1st review she says she saw traielrs but was shocked to see white people  LOL

yeah thats believable

I know.  ;D - What a stupid B*t*h.

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Re: THE LAST AIRBENDER: Reviews - Critics.
« Reply #4 on: June 28, 2010, 01:57:54 PM »
People are dumb. They get hung up so bad on stuff like that, and "They don't look EXACTLY like the cartoon!" Well DUH. If they looked like the cartoon they would BE a cartoon. Seriously people, get over it.
There Happen to be Signs in the Village that the Unbreakable Lady in the Water has the Sixth Sense.

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Re: THE LAST AIRBENDER: Reviews - Critics.
« Reply #5 on: June 29, 2010, 12:23:57 PM »
i agree, the picky details always get someone
want i did not like about the first review is "all talk and no action"    ???
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Re: THE LAST AIRBENDER: Reviews - Critics.
« Reply #6 on: June 29, 2010, 02:35:20 PM »
Not from the clip I saw...
There Happen to be Signs in the Village that the Unbreakable Lady in the Water has the Sixth Sense.

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Re: THE LAST AIRBENDER: Reviews - Critics.
« Reply #7 on: June 29, 2010, 08:25:55 PM »
Wait wait wait, Aang has a southern accent???   :o :o  :'(

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Re: THE LAST AIRBENDER: Reviews - Critics.
« Reply #8 on: June 29, 2010, 09:17:05 PM »
I love how if its a bad review, rohan will be like "this person doesn't have any credibility" but if its a good one, it doesn't matter who they are.

fact is everyone has opinions. while we want the movie to succeed and be awesome, there's nothing we can do about it if its not good.

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Re: THE LAST AIRBENDER: Reviews - Critics.
« Reply #9 on: June 29, 2010, 11:16:52 PM »
http://www.shadowandact.com/?p=26374   - Another idiotic review.  Based mostly on RACE lol

Rohan

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Re: THE LAST AIRBENDER: Reviews - Critics.
« Reply #10 on: June 29, 2010, 11:19:10 PM »
I love how if its a bad review, rohan will be like "this person doesn't have any credibility" but if its a good one, it doesn't matter who they are.

fact is everyone has opinions. while we want the movie to succeed and be awesome, there's nothing we can do about it if its not good.

yeah everyone has a opinion. If the review doesn't make sense then it doesn't make sense, right? The reason it doesn't make sense cause it was written not to make sense. When a reviewer reviews a movie based on its race WHICH IS A RED MARK of controversy is not a review. It is to spread the bad word. Seriously there are some haters there. M.Night haters.


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Re: THE LAST AIRBENDER: Reviews - Critics.
« Reply #11 on: June 29, 2010, 11:23:31 PM »
I've read some biased reviews that didn't care about the casting...doesn't sound like the movie will be good.  :-\

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Re: THE LAST AIRBENDER: Reviews - Critics.
« Reply #12 on: June 30, 2010, 03:18:58 AM »
I'm getting really worried. Many are saying it's M. Night's WORST film. After seeing Lady in the Water and The Happening, I can't even imagine.  :-\

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Re: THE LAST AIRBENDER: Reviews - Critics.
« Reply #13 on: June 30, 2010, 08:38:19 AM »
I'm getting really worried. Many are saying it's M. Night's WORST film. After seeing Lady in the Water and The Happening, I can't even imagine.  :-\


I don't know.  Night is getting thrashed by the film bloggers.........hopefully critics like it.  :(

I'm more worried about how Night is going to take this as a filmmaker.  :'(
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Re: THE LAST AIRBENDER: Reviews - Critics.
« Reply #14 on: June 30, 2010, 10:06:29 AM »
im going to the midnight showing tonight!!!!!!!!!!!!

i get to see myself on the big screen =)...

the trailers look awesome, but the film will prob be a bust...the trailer is prob just showing all the good parts of the film, WHATEVER still going to see it bc avatar is my favorite show...

not really excited for the film, only excited for myself!!! im an airbending student...go find me!