The Last Airbender
The Last Airbender is a 2010 American action-adventure fantasy film directed, co-produced and written by M. Night Shyamalan. Based on the first season of the Nickelodeon animated television series BTSW, the film opened in cinemas on July 2, 2010.
The four nations of Air, Water, Earth and Fire lived in harmony until the Fire Nation declared war. A century later, there is still no end in sight to the destruction. However, an Avatar named Aang discovers that he has the power to control the four elements. He joins forces with Katara, a Waterbender, and her brother Sokka to restore balance and harmony to their world.
Why It Sucks
- Incredibly poor acting, which ranges from being utterly emotionless (Noah Ringer) to obnoxiously hammy (Aasif Mandvi). Nate Ploof (Stupid Beagle Reviews) stated in his rant that he had seen middle school plays in the middle school that he once went to that had better acting than the film does.
- It relies too much on exposition without emotion, with the Nostalgia Critic describing the movie as "All explanation, no humanity".
- Terrible editing with no flow from scene to scene, likely due to an issue mentioned later in the wiki.
- Unintentionally racist casting choices, some of which was 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 (twenty episodes that last twenty-three minutes, a total of seven hours and forty minutes) has been compressed into the film (ninety-six minutes long; not counting the credits), forcing a huge number of plot elements to be truncated or outright removed.
- To add insult to injury, thirty minutes of footage was removed from the movie at the last minute to have the terrible 3D conversion as said below thanks to rushing this movie for its release on July 2, 2010, and it was probably not worth it as it made the movie much worse with many of the major problems mentioned in this wiki page. To add even more insult to injury, the Last Airbender movie novelization has over 20 differences (some of which are major) that got axed because of what happened!
- Several of the characters' names are mispronounced, such as Aang being called "Ong", Sokka being called "Soaka" and Iroh being called "Eeroh".
- Some say that the incorrect pronunciation was done to give the characters more Asian-sounding names, but the problem is that no one in the movie has accents.
- It also somewhat explains the title not having the Avatar name because of coming out before this film, and this will also affect most later Avatar universe installments going forward, as even the 'Avatar' name in the movie was mispronounced.
- The characters are horribly portrayed and appear to be flanderized:
- Sokka goes from being a humorous person who has confidence issues that he hides behind a "tough" attitude to having the personality of a twig.
- Aang goes from a playful and kind kid who struggles with the responsibility of being the Avatar into a whiny, angsty brat.
- Katara insultingly goes from being a self-dependent, mature person who is also one of the best Waterbenders on the planet into a completely flat character who's an absolute joke of a Waterbender.
- Zuko goes from an impatient and emotionally-conflicted person struggling between his free will and his father's demands into a generic "edgy" teen.
- Bending seems to generally be much weaker:
- Firebenders are shown as having to actually use a source of fire, a rather baffling change given that, in the show, Firebenders produce fire from their own internal energy (Chi).
- Waterbenders take forever to start moving a small puddle.
- In the infamous "pebble dance" sequence, it takes a team of seven Earthbenders to throw one little rock, while in the show, a single Earthbender can lift a giant boulder with one hand, while four Earthbenders could take down an entire group of Fire Nation tanks.
- Immense disregard for physics, particularly in one scene where the Fire Nation invades the Northern Water Tribe with "drill helmets" that tear through thick ice in mere seconds. In reality, they would take almost four months to drill through the ice. In the show, it took the Fire Nation a few days of constant raiding before they were able to break through the city walls.
- The Earthbender prison camp is in a rocky crater, rather than on a metal ship just like in the television series, which creates a massive plothole as they could escape very easily, yet they don't do so for some reason. In the television series, on the metal ship, no bending was possible, 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!
- Related with the above, it likely was explained better in the length over twenty, twenty-five or thirty minutes version before being shortened due to the infamous 3D conversion mentioned in this page and/or the movie novelization, but this is a prime example of why doing a last-minute 3D conversion in post-production nearly two-to-three months before release can single handedly mess up the movie itself, leading to many of the infamous problems as mentioned here.
- Poorly-choreographed fight scenes.
- The film had a terrible 3D conversion, resulting in it winning a special Razzie Award for "Worst Eye-Gouging Mis-Use of 3D".
- The film takes itself way too seriously, unlike the show that had both light-hearted and intense moments.
- The trailer showed a scene where Aang is about to fight the Fire Nation by himself, but the scene never actually appears in the final movie (likely because of the movie being cut short as mentioned above).
- Noah Ringer, who played Aang in this movie, stated he "had no previous acting experience" which was indeed true, proving that he was a terrible casting choice.
- Even if the film tries to have emotional moments, all of those scenes just have more exposition rather than talking about or showing how they feel or express what they love to do.
- The Ember Island Players, who parodied the first book in one episode of the third book in the original, were way better than this pile of hot garbage.
- The soundtrack, composed by James Newton Howard, is surprisingly amazing.
- It has a good recreation of the intro from the TV series, barring the use of a gibberish language in place of authentic Chinese characters.
- 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 Bryan Konietzko and Michael Dante DiMartino (the creators of the original TV show) would later cast her as Asami Sato in Avatar: The Legend of Korra.
- Shaun Toub's performance as Uncle Iroh was also well-received.
- The special effects, at some moments, are pretty decent.
The Last Airbender was near-universally panned by critics, audiences and fans of the show alike and is often considered to be one of the worst movie adaptations of all time and one of the worst movies of 2010. The movie 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 the movie's release, there has been a word that the movie's awfulness wasn't entirely Shyamalan's fault, but that of the movie's producers, who didn't even bother to watch the series. Or even the last minute 3D conversion mentioned above. On Rotten Tomatoes, it holds a 5% "rotten" with a critic consensus that reads "The Last Airbender squanders its popular source material with incomprehensible plotting, horrible acting, and detached joyless direction." Metacritic scores a film a 20/100 "generally unfavorable reviews". 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". 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 star 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."
The film opened up at #2 on its opening weekend grossing $17,511,097 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 a box office disappointment.
Awards and nominations
The film managed to win five Golden Raspberry Awards including Worst Picture, Worst Director and Worst Eye-Gouging Mis-Use of 3D.
- This was the second Nickelodeon film to receive negative reviews since Good Burger (1997), but the very first Nickelodeon film to get horribly panned by critics, fans of the original show and casual moviegoers.
- In September 2018, Netflix has announced the live-action adaptation 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 will be released in 2020. This, in effect, killed any possibilities of a sequel to the 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 thousands of fans of the original source material.
- There were plans for sequels. Fortunately, the sequels were cancelled following the negative reception and number of Golden Raspberry Awards it won.