This weekend, M. Night Shyamalan’s latest film will have to fight off toys, vampires and werewolves to earn some decent change over the holiday. Unfortunately Twilight and Toy Story 3 are the least of The Last Airbender’s problems. The film is an adaptation of a popular Nickelodeon animated series created by Americans who were inspired by anime and Asian culture. The show was ten times more entertaining than anything this film has to offer and despite its splashy special effects and action sequences this might be another dud for the once hot director.
There are two major flaws that force The Last Airbender into “craptastic” territory, casting and its script. Over the past year Shyamalan received a lot of flack for not hiring more ethnic actors in the main roles of Aang, Sokka, and Katara. The director has responded to such criticism by saying the characters have ,”culturally ambiguous features… [you're] meant to see yourself in it.”
For the Water Tribe, I wanted to go Anglo/European/Russian, that sort of feeling. Nicola [Peltz] felt that way to me, and Jackson [Rathbone] looks so much like Sokka to me. Really, the only ones I don’t represent in the movie, and it’s intentional, is the blond people of the world. So there, I apologize to them. (Laughs)
I don’t think he understands the big picture when it comes to this issue. He claims that the Water tribe was meant to look European yet he completely ignores that fact that their broken up into two tribes The Southern and the Northern and the Southern look more Inuit with the exception of Rathbone and Peltz.
The idea that these characters are ambiguous also seems strange to me since the creators of the series (Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko,) have said time and time again that they were inspired by Asians and various ethnic cultures (that sounds pretty specific to me).
Shyamalan not only directed the film but he also wrote the screenplay, which was a horrible mess. It was dry, boring, and stagnant. And the uninspired delivery of its actors didn’t help. The performances from the 3 main stars was so stiff it gave Hayden Christensen (circa Star Wars Episodes II and III) a run for his money.
[Spoiler Alert] The film has been set up as a trilogy just like the show. It’s broken up into books and has an abrupt ending that leaves it wide open for the next movie. Shyamalan should have made the finale a little more conclusive because I don’t think this movie will earn enough to warrant a sequel. How many tentpole films have been set up as franchises and failed? Have we forgotten about The Golden Compass?
In closing, if you’re not a fan of the show and don’t have any background on the characters you won’t be interested in what this movie has to offer. It’s unfortunate because the series is really amazing and deserves its accolades yet Shyamalan’s film does it a huge disservice.
What did you think of The Last Airbender?