The Last Airbender Review

Published 5 years ago by , Updated July 2nd, 2010 at 11:13 am,

the last airbender review air temple The Last Airbender Review

Shyamalan and Paramount Pictures tried to cover the story arc of a  full season of the Airbender cartoon in about ninety minutes of movie. With this cast and the special effects, it’s hard to fathom that they spent $150 million dollars making it. There’s an hour of missing movie out there somewhere, one that explains these characters and their story in full. I just know it.

What we do get are multiple occasions where instead of traveling with the characters, building their relationships and giving us something we can attach to, instead we’re just thrown into new scenes in completely different locales, with either a subtitle explaining to us where we are now, and/or narration saying a certain amount of time has passed and that stuff has happened. Then, before we experience much of anything with the characters we’re supposed to be attached to, in the new locale we’ve been thrown into, we’re quickly thrown into another poorly set up scene – which quickly takes us to yet another location/locale without any purpose or sense of direction.

The hardest part about accepting The Last Airbender for what it is (not), is that there are no redeeming qualities to it. From the trailers and other marketing, you’d expect at least the action sequences and special effects involved would provide some entertainment – and while there are some cool action bits, even that aspect of the film falls short.

thelastairbender20 570x308 The Last Airbender Review

During the few scenes involving hand-to-hand combat, in a movie heavily focused on martial arts styles (each corresponding to a different bending ability), most of the time the fight scenes didn’t come off as cool or enjoyable. And in scenes where they could have really showcased wildly entertaining bending fights, they instead opted to repeatedly show a lengthy martial arts dance routine, just to employ one basic bending assault – whereas in the cartoon series, there were many intense action scenes where each punch and kick from Prince Zuko would launch fireballs at his opponent.

There is one bright spot in the film: Fan-favorite character Uncle Iroh (Shaun Toub) is the standout character of the movie, cool and lovable as he was in the cartoon. Uncle Iroh is Prince Zuko’s mentor and while being a calm and often comedic character, he is a powerful Firebender, good-natured in contrast to the ill-tempered young Zuko.

last airbender image3 570x308 The Last Airbender Review

Unfortunately for moviegoers and fans of the cartoon, The Last Airbender does almost everything wrong and it certainly isn’t helped by the tacked-on 3D, which doesn’t add much to the film (at best) and saddles it with muted colors and flat depth (at worst). This is a movie unintentionally aimed strictly at children and the youngest segment of the cartoon’s fanbase. If your kids love flashy things and big animals, then they’ll probably like this – unless they start trying to understand the plot. In my opinion, you’d be better off taking them to see fireworks this weekend – it will probably be more entertaining.

In the end, I just hope this movie doesn’t hurt people’s interest in watching the amazing cartoon series which spawned it. That would truly be unforgivable.

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Share your disappointment with me on Twitter @rob_keyes and be sure to follow us all @screenrant.

Our Rating:

1.5 out of 5
(Poor, A Few Good Parts)

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  1. I’ve unfortunately bought the movie, thinking that it would be good. Boy was I wrong! I love the tv show to death. I have the complete box sets and me and some friends have “Avatar” nights where we watch the series. This “movie” is the worst it could have possibly been, and then some!
    1. The names! Why oh why, are the names being mispronounced? I don’t care if they were trying to make them culturally correct. The point is, they should have remained true to the series in order for fans to know who’s who.
    2. The characters, or lack of that is. There is NO emotion in this film. The characters are so bland with no depth at all. All they do is stare off into space, deliver lines that were way too dramatic and then stare off into space again! The characters in the show were amazing! I wanted to be them, where in the movie, I want to leave their sorry butts behind and go on the journey myself! The right way!
    3. The story. Where is the plot?!!! I only understood why they were traveling because I’m obsessed with the show! And even then it was difficult! Spend more time on plot development rather than set development!
    4. The bending! The most important aspect of the show, and the movie misses completely! Why are they doing an elaborate martial arts form and THEN the element reacts? Last I checked (last night) the benders movements affect the element immediately! They move together to create the reaction! The bending is a direct connection to the bender’s chi! Ask the writers!
    5. Zhoa going to the fire nation every other scene. How the heck do they expect a man, who’s suppose to be traveling north, following the Avatar, to come back to the Fire Nation (in the south) every few days to give the fire lord an update? REALLY??? Did the script writers even remember that the fire lord isn’t even revealed until book 3?
    In conclusion. Come on! Get it right the first time, and then MAYBE people will like it! I know for a fact, that everyone I know who watches the series, hates, and I mean HATES the movie. The only people who semi-enjoy the movie are those who have never seen the awesomeness of the show “Avatar: the Last Airbender” and even they have difficulty. If there is to be a sequel, (please not until this poor excuse is remade the right way) it is going to take a lot of convincing to get fans of the series to go see it.

    • Watch the Nostalgia Critic’s review of this movie and you’ll feel a lot better.

  2. The movie sucks, reasons have already been mentioned, and I agree completely…

    I’m a fierce fan of the TV show, I loved it, I couldn’t wait for the next episode to come out…

    It really annoys me that they totally “killed” my favorite character, which is Zuko grrr, I couldn’t watch the whole movie (I didn’t go to the cinema, as the trailer itself dissapointed me tremendously)…

    Anyways, I really hope they don’t make it a trilogy before they fix the plot, or at least create one.

  3. I’ve never seen the show, and even I hated this terrible excuse for a movie epic. At least hire a decent director. Anyone but Shyamalan would’ve made this a great movie.

  4. I loved the movie.

  5. Here years late because I caught Unbreakable on TV, and kept clicking links.

    Pretty much everything was bad, but the worst part to me is how a professional TEAM can take an established story, where its all been said to us before, and INTENTIONALLY MISPRONOUNCE THE MAIN CHARACTER’S NAME(and other things).

    The source material was spoken. There is no question as to pronunciation. The assumption that “no, no, we know better” alienates and insults the audience.

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