The Last Airbender

From Awful Movies Wiki
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Norm norm of the north.png

"I'm Norm of the North, king of nothing." — Norm, Norm of the North

This is a good article.


The Last Airbender
Last airbender ver8.jpg
"The ghostwriter who changed M. Night Shyamalan's original script under his name, you and Paramount Pictures have devastated the legacy of the Avatar: The Last Airbender animated series... and now you shall pay the ultimate price!" — All the previous Avatars offended by this movie
Genre: Action
Fantasy
Adventure
Directed By: M. Night Shyamalan
Produced By: M. Night Shyamalan
Sam Mercer
Frank Marshall
Written By: M. Night Shyamalan
Based On: Avatar: The Last Airbender
by Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko
Starring: Noah Ringer
Dev Patel
Nicola Peltz
Jackson Rathbone
Shaun Toub
Aasif Mandvi
Cliff Curtis
Seychelle Gabriel
Cinematography: Andrew Lesnie
Distributed By: Paramount Pictures
Release Date: June 30, 2010 (New York City)
July 2, 2010 (United States)
Runtime: 103 minutes
143 minutes (originally; cut to 103 minutes)
Country: United States
Language: English
Budget: $150 million
Box Office: $319.7 million
Sequel: Untitled The Last Airbender sequel (cancelled)


"'The Last Airbender' is an agonizing experience in every category I can think of and others still waiting to be invented."
Roger Ebert[1]


The Last Airbender is a 2010 American action-adventure fantasy film written, co-produced, and directed by M. Night Shyamalan. Based on the first season of the Nickelodeon animated television series Avatar: The Last Airbender, the film stars Noah Ringer as Aang, with Dev Patel as Prince Zuko, Nicola Peltz as Katara, and Jackson Rathbone as Sokka. Development for the film began in 2007. It was produced by Nickelodeon Movies and distributed by Paramount Pictures. The film premiered in New York City on June 30, 2010, and was released the following day in the United States on July 1, 2010.

Plot

The four nations of Air, Water, Earth, and Fire lived together in harmony until the Fire Nation declared war by attacking and invading the other three. A century later, there is still no end in sight to the destruction. However, an Airbender named Aang discovers that he is the Avatar, a person with the ability to control all four elements. He joins forces with Katara, a Waterbender, and her non-bending brother Sokka to defeat the Fire Nation and restore balance to their world.

Why It's Nothing Like the Show

  1. It has been confirmed that the film's producers didn't bother watching the series it was based on, thus making the film unfaithful to the source material.
  2. Has incredibly poor acting from the cast, ranging from being utterly emotionless (e.g., Noah Ringer, Nicola Peltz, Jackson Rathbone and, to a lesser extent, Dev Patel) to obnoxiously hammy (e.g., Aasif Mandvi). Nate Ploof from "Stupid Beagle Reviews" stated in his review that he'd seen middle school plays with sometimes better acting than this film.
    1. Aside from the middle school plays, some of the child actors try desperately to act if they have any experience.
  3. It heavily relies on exposition without any emotion, with Doug Walker describing the movie as "All explanation and no humanity".
  4. Terrible editing with no flow from scene to scene.
  5. Poor choreography and cinematography with hallmarks, awkward close-ups for the actors and static shots along with the fight sequences.
  6. Terrible writing that tries to cram the entire first season of Avatar: The Last Airbender into a less-than-2-hour-long movie and fails miserably and should have never exist as a film.
  7. Awful attempts at world-building compared to the show.
  8. Barely has the charm that the show had, instead feeling rather depressing and lifeless.
  9. It barely even tries to be "faithful" to the TV show it was based on.
  10. While it was unfaithful, it's just rather possibly 30% of the material removed.
  11. Horrendous grasp of the source material. For example:
    • The most notable changes were the miscasting choices, some of which were caused by nepotism (Nicola Peltz was cast as Katara as a favor to her billionaire father, Nelson Peltz) and name recognition (Dev Patel of Slumdog Millionaire fame was cast as Prince Zuko, who is supposed to be from a culture resembling that of Imperial Japan).
    • The entirety of the first season, consisting of twenty episodes that last twenty-three minutes, a total of seven hours and forty minutes, has been compressed into ninety-six minutes' worth of film (not counting the credits), forcing a huge number of plot elements to be either heavily truncated or outright removed.
    • It also changed many important scenes and some elements:
      • Aang doesn't immediately ask Katara to go penguin-sledding with him after waking up, and he doesn't even tell her or Sokka his name until they're at the Southern Air Temple.
      • Aang barely even fights with Zuko for the first time in the Northern Water Tribe Village.
      • Zuko and his uncle Iroh testing Aang and firebenders stopping him was rushed and ends with Aang escaping while Zuko and Iroh stared at Aang, Katara and Sokka flying away on Appa, and do nothing.
      • Appa, the flying bison in the movie, now has long flatted legs with chicken feet.
      • The Kyoshi Warriors, in the deleted scenes, do not encounter Aang, Sokka and Katara in person. Even they don't have Kyoshi makeup.
      • Haru, an Earthbender who was a young adult in the TV series, is now a little boy.
      • The Earthbender prison camp is in the middle of a quarry, rather than on a metal ship like in the TV series - which creates a massive plot hole, as they could escape very easily, yet they don't do so for some reason. In the series, no Earthbending was possible on the metal ship, so it made sense for them to be roused and empowered by Katara to not lose hope and fight back because there was a big risk and they had something to lose... but in the movie, they're surrounded by Earth! and Aang telling them to rise up.
      • It's stated that, if a person becomes the Avatar, he or she can never have a family. The show actively contradicts this, as Avatars Kuruk, Kyoshi and Roku are revealed to have had families of their own.
      • In the movie, Aang says that, to get airbending tattoos, a person has to meditate for long periods of time without losing focus and that some of the Air Nomad monks could even meditate for four days. In the show, Airbenders get their tattoos after completing all thirty-six tiers of airbending.
      • The Spirit World is just a plain forest with nothing to expand.
      • Instead of Iroh telling the senior officers of Zuko's ship about how Zuko was scarred and banished, Zuko tells a boy about him. How does this boy know about his backstory?!
        • Speaking of it, Ozai and Zuko do not get shirtless and is only seen in his throne room than an Agni Kai duel stadium.
      • Koh the Face Stealer was replaced with a new character called the Dragon Spirit, who also replaced the Fire Nation-born Avatar, Roku.
      • Sozin's Comet arrives at three years than the end of summer.
      • Iroh tells Yue to sacrifice herself to save the Moon Spirit, rather than Yue doing it of her own accord.
      • Zhao stabs the Moon Spirit to death with a knife, rather than killing it with a blast of fire.
      • Rather than the Avatar-stated Aang fusing with the Ocean Spirit and wiping out the entire Fire Nation armada, he instead summons a giant tsunami that causes them to flee.
      • A lot of important characters like the Fire Nation-born Avatar Roku, along with King Bumi, Jet, Suki and Zhao's master Jeong Jeong, are never shown or even mentioned in the movie.
      • There are two mistakes that can be easily spotted in the intro of the movie:
        • In the intro of the show, the symbols of the respected elements behind the benders were authentic Chinese symbols; but in the intro of the movie, the symbols of the elements behind the benders are complete gibberish.
        • There's a grammatical error in the opening text of the movie. Where it says "Water, Earth, Fire and Air Nomads", they didn't put an Oxford comma after "Fire", which makes it look like the intro is saying that the Nomads were both Firebenders and Airbenders.
  12. The film takes itself way too seriously, unlike the TV series, which had both light-hearted and dramatic moments.
  13. Several of the characters' names are mispronounced. For example, Aang is mispronounced as "Ong", Sokka is mispronounced as "Soaka" and Iroh is mispronounced as "Eeroh".
    • Some say that the incorrect pronunciation was done to give the characters more Asian-sounding names, even though none of the characters in the film have accents.
    • It also somewhat explains the title not having the Avatar title because of an unrelated movie directed by James Cameron being released before this film did, and this will also affect most later Avatar universe installments going forward, as even the "Avatar" title in the movie was mispronounced as "Ahvatar". But of course, it also mispronounced "Agni Kai" as "Agni Ki".
  14. Poor grasp of the lore from the series, with bending seeming to be generally much, much weaker:
    • Firebenders are shown to be required to actually use a source of fire, which is a rather baffling change, given that Firebenders produce fire from chi, their own internal energy, in the series.
    • Airbenders rely on sweeping, rapid and circular movements.
    • Waterbenders take forever to start moving a small puddle.
    • In the infamous "pebble dance" sequence, it takes a team of six Earthbenders to throw one little rock by stomping their feet and twirling their hands so one Earthbender could punch it. Unlike that, a single Earthbender in the TV series could lift a giant boulder with one hand, while four Earthbenders were capable of taking down an entire group of Fire Nation tanks.
  15. Immense disregard for real-world physics, particularly in one scene where the Fire Nation soldiers invade the Northern Water Tribe with "drill helmets" that tear through thick ice in mere seconds... even though they would actually take almost four months to drill through the ice. In the series, it took the Fire Nation a few days of constant raiding before they were able to break through the city walls.
  16. The trailer showed a scene where Aang is about to fight the Fire Nation all by himself (that was at least never shown in the show), but the scene never actually appears in the final movie (likely because of the movie being cut short as mentioned above).
  17. Some incredibly crappy dialogue, such as:
    1. "We were forced under the water of the ocean",
    2. "Bring me all your elderly!"
    3. "Who are you...whats your name!"
    4. "This time, we'll show the Fire Nation that we believe in our beliefs as much as they believe in theirs".
  18. Uncharismatic portrayals of the main characters from the original series who act like lifeless human beings unlike their counterparts:
    • Aang, who has always been portrayed as a playful and kind kid who struggles with the responsibility of being the Avatar, is portrayed here as a whiny, angsty brat who almost never cracks a smile.
      • Noah Ringer, who played Aang in this movie, stated that he had "no previous acting experience", proving he was a terrible casting choice.
        • Similarly, Nicola Peltz's audition tape for Katara was described as "subpar at best".
    • Katara, instead of being a self-dependent, mature person who is also one of the greatest-ever Waterbenders and an "older sister" figure to Aang in the series, is now a completely flat character that is an absolute joke of a Waterbender who mostly exists to deliver exposition.
    • Rather than being a humorous, wise-cracking person who has self-esteem issues that he hides behind a "tough guy" persona, Sokka is a serious soldier who has an unquenchable bloodthirst and the personality of a twig.
    • Zuko is portrayed as a generic "edgy" teenager rather than an impatient, yet emotionally conflicted person struggling between his free will and the demands of his father and current Fire Lord, Ozai. His motivation of disguising himself as the Blue Spirit and taking Aang from Commander Zhao is also never explained. Even his signature scar is barely visible.
    • Speaking of Ozai, he is shown in full from the very beginning, whereas the series kept his appearance a mystery until the third and final season. Unlike the first season, where he was a man in the shadows, Ozai himself barely serves any purpose against the Northern Water Tribe and is aware that Zuko is the Blue Spirit. Even his personality is changed from a sadistic tyrant into an emotionless, one-dimensional villain. Also, he doesn't have his Fire Lord crown.
    • Master Pakku barely has any personality or character development with Katara. His battle cry also sounds very weird.
    • Iroh, who's otherwise faithful to his show counterpart, lacks the carefree side of his personality.
    • Commander Zhao, the main antagonist of season 1, is barely intimidating and his rivalry with Zuko is almost non-existent. Instead, he has a bizarre obsession with a "secret library" that he ransacked in order to find information that would help him defeat the Northern Water Tribe.
    • The Fire Nation Soldiers are somewhat lifeless fools who just kidnapped Earthbenders that attack them in defense, while making fun of Aang by asking if he is really an Airbender.
    • The Earthbenders are portrayed as lifeless weaklings and idiots who are surrounded by Earth in their prison camp, rather than being imprisoned on metal ships.
    • The 4 unnamed Waterbenders are lifeless, uncaring killers who drowned Zhao in a water bubble something that the show's Waterbenders would never do.
    • An unnamed villager at the Northern Air Temple is a generic "villain sympathizer" character who betrays Aang to the Fire Nation soldiers so he can get some wanted reward money from them.
    • Azula is a one-dimensional sadist who laughs at Zuko as a young child when Ozai burns his face in Agni Kai.
  19. Pointless sequel-baiting found from the season 1 finale involving Ozai tasking Zuko's sister Azula to hunt down Aang, which is never resolved.
  20. Even when the film tries to have emotional moments, all of those scenes just serve to have characters deliver more exposition rather than talking about or showing how they feel or express what they like or dislike.
  21. A horrible 3D conversion that "won" a one-off Razzie Award for "Worst Eye-Gouging Mis-Use of 3D".
  22. M. Night Shyamalan did a weak job of directing this movie, which resulted in him "winning" a Golden Raspberry Award for "Worst Director" (also mentioned in "Awards and Nominations" section).

Redeeming Qualities

  1. The soundtrack, composed by James Newton Howard, is surprisingly amazing.
  2. It has a good recreation of the intro from the television series, barring the use of a gibberish language in place of authentic Chinese characters.
  3. The Earth Kingdom villagers are actually played by Chinese actors, along with the other Water Tribe villagers (besides Katara, Sokka, their grandmother Kanna, Princess Yue and Master Pakku), being played by actors of Inuit descent.
  4. Despite her character's race being changed, Seychelle Gabriel's performance as Princess Yue was moderately well-received by fans (barring the "penis hair" meme based on the rather unfortunate appearance she has when seen from behind in one shot), and series creators Bryan Konietzko and Michael Dante DiMartino would later cast her as Asami Sato in Avatar: The Legend of Korra.
    • Similarly, Shaun Toub's performance as Uncle Iroh was also well-received and seen as very faithful to what he is in the show, despite his character's race being changed as well.
  5. Decent visuals in some scenes.
  6. Despite being generic, the Dragon Spirit's voice acting is pretty good (though it's not really surprising given that it's John Noble, who played Denethor in the Lord of the Rings film trilogy, voicing him).
  7. The production designing and sets are surprisingly good.
  8. The airbending master tattoos look more detailed than the show's rendition.
  9. The teaser trailer released in 2009 was much more promising than the film.

Reception

Whereas the animated series received widespread acclaim, The Last Airbender was universally panned by critics, audiences and fans of the original animated series upon its release, and it is widely considered to be the worst Nickelodeon movie of all time as well as one of the worst films ever made. Many reviewers criticized the screenplay, acting, directing, casting, plot holes, unfaithfulness to the source material, visual effects, editing, characters and last-minute 3D conversion. It is commonly described as "a badly-made summary of the first season of the show". Fans of Avatar: The Last Airbender tend to be especially harsh towards the movie. Years after its release, word got out that its misdeeds weren't entirely Shyamalan's fault, but that of the film's producers, who didn't even bother to watch the series.

On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval "rotten" rating of 5%, based on 192 reviews with an average rating of 2.96/10, making it the lowest-rated film produced by Nickelodeon Movies, as well as Shyamalan's worst-reviewed film to date. The site's critical consensus reads, "The Last Airbender squanders its popular source material with incomprehensible plotting, horrible acting, and detached joyless direction.". On Metacritic, it has a weighted average score of 20 out of 100, based on 33 reviews, indicating "generally unfavorable reviews" category. Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average rating of "C" on an A+ to F scale. Roger Ebert of The Chicago Sun-Times awarded the film half a star out of four and described the film as "an agonizing experience in every category I can think of". Kenneth Turan of The Los Angeles Times said in his review "By specifically critical and broadly adult standards, this film is undoubtedly a disappointment, but it is disappointing in a way that its intended audience may not notice".

Jen Yamato of Movies.com awarded the film one-and-a-half stars out of five and said "The good news for those eagerly anticipating this live-action, big-budget adaptation is that the 3D isn't horrible. The bad news? Just about everything else is".

Box office

The film opened up at #2 on its opening weekend, grossing $40,325,019 domestically. On its closing weekend, it made a total domestic gross of $131,772,187. In overseas territories, the film grossed $187,941,694. Overall, the film made a worldwide gross of $319,713,881 and was considered to be a box office disappointment. It is the fourth highest-grossing film produced by Nickelodeon Movies, behind The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and The Adventures of Tintin.

Awards and nominations

The film dominated the 2010 Golden Raspberry Awards, "winning" five Razzies from nine nominations: "Worst Picture", "Worst Director", "Worst Screenplay", "Worst Supporting Actor" (which Jackson Rathbone "won" for both his role as Sokka in this film and as Jasper Hale in The Twilight Saga: Eclipse) and the one-off special "Worst Eye-Gouging Mis-Use of 3D" Razzie.

Videos

Trivia

  • This was the third Nickelodeon film to receive negative reviews since Good Burger and Snow Day, but the very second Nickelodeon film to get horribly panned by critics, fans of the original show and casual moviegoers since Yours, Mine & Ours in 2005.
  • In September 2018, Netflix announced a live-action series based on Avatar: The Last Airbender, with the original creators (Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko) and composer Jeremy Zuckerman returning. Both Michael and Bryan said that they intended to adapt the series "with a culturally appropriate, non-whitewashed cast" and it would be released sometime in 2021. This, in effect, killed any remaining possibility of a sequel to this film.
  • Shyamalan has stated that this film was the first film he saw as a genuine failure and still hasn't gotten over how he disappointed fans of the source material.
  • There were plans for two sequels adapting the original series' remaining two seasons. Fortunately, they were canceled following the film's horrific critical bashing and the number of Golden Raspberry Awards it won.
  • Noah Ringer, who played Aang in the movie, has not appeared in another film or another project in general after 2011. His second (and last) film appearance was in the 2011 sci-fi/western film Cowboys & Aliens. He was announced in May 2013 to be starring in a film titled The Peppercorn Chronicles, which was set to be loosely based on a 24-minute fantasy short titled Mrs. Peppercorn's Magical Reading Room. As of now, there has been no further information regarding the film, and it is presumed that it is either stuck in development hell or has been outright cancelled or both, he also was likely planned to reprise his role as Aang in the now canceled sequels, it safe to say his only resume of two films that where both box office disappointments and both less then stellar critical panned films respectively.
  • In an "ask me anything" interview posted on the subreddit /r/IAmA in February 2013, Dante Basco (the voice of Prince Zuko in the original series) revealed that Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko had warned him and his fellow cast members to never watch the film under any circumstances.[2]
  • Dev Patel, who played Prince Zuko in the film, later expressed regret and dislike for his role and his experience with the film. In a 2016 actor's roundtable with The Hollywood Reporter while promoting his film Lion during Oscar contenders' season sitting alongside with Mahershala Ali, Andrew Garfield, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Casey Affleck and Jeff Bridges, Patel said "I don't know what I would like to play, but I know what I'm afraid of playing: those big studio movies. After Slumdog, I did a film that was not well-received at all. The budget of Slumdog was like the budget of the craft services of this movie." He added, "I completely felt overwhelmed by the experience. I felt like I wasn't being heard. That was really scary for me, and that's really when I learned the power of 'no', the idea of saying 'no'. Listen to that instinct you get when you read those words for the first time." He described his performance as Fire Prince Zuko as being as though he "saw a stranger on the screen" that he couldn't relate to.
  • There was a Robot Chicken sketch parodying Roger Ebert's reaction to the film.

External links

References

Comments

Loading comments...