I really don't enjoy reviewing bad films. Some people take a perverse pleasure in venting spleen and letting loose all their bitter, entitled issues on what is - let's not forget - entertainment. I prefer to be positive, full of enthusiastic recommendations and thumbs pointed skywards.
But every now and then you have to see The Last Airbender. It is my first one-star review.
While it may not have been his debut feature, M. Night Shyamalan's reputation was made with 1999's twisty chiller The Sixth Sense. And it has been downhill from there. Sure, there may be some debate over the individual qualities of films such as Unbreakable and Signs, but the past decade has seen the director experience a heavily scrutinised creative slump.
So it is baffling that Shyamalan should be given the reins to such a blockbuster-sized epic adventure, but that is exactly what we get with The Last Airbender. Adapted from the similarly-named Nickelodeon cartoon series, this is the story of a boy, Aang (Noah Ringer), gifted with mystical powers and tasked with bringing peace to a chaotic world.
The film's lore is labyrinthine and dull: its society is comprised of four races, each with distinct ties to a certain natural energy, be it fire, water, air or earth. Members of these races can harness the power of each element, 'bending' them to their will. However, the imperialistic Fire nation (who are distinctly Indian-subcontinent in provenance), impose a rule of terror, subjugating the Eskimo-like Water people and the humble Earth folk. In the past, they also exterminated the isolated monks who practised Air-bending. As made clear by the title, Aang is the last one of these, but he is also the fabled Avatar - a reincarnated semi-deity who has power over all elements.
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