Movie review for “The Last Airbender”

Starring: Noah Ringer, Dev Patel
Directed by: M. Night Shyamalan
Rated: PG

            Controversial director M. Night Shyamalan (“The Sixth Sense,” “Signs”) has adapted the popular animated series “Avatar: The Last Airbender” to the silver screen. Critics have panned it. Movie goers (some who suffer from ‘group think’) have bashed it. The question is: is it really as bad as people are making it out to be?

            The movie begins when two siblings, Katara and Sokka, discover a little boy encased in an icy sphere. The boy, Aang, turns out to be the last of his race, the Airbenders. Matters become more complicated when he reveals that he is the Avatar, a special being who can control all four elements – air, water, earth, and fire. Aang’s life is endangered when the Fire nation tries to capture him, thus preventing him from ending their tyranny over the Earth and Water nations. Aang bands together with Katara and Sokka, and slowly they start an uprising against the evil Fire Lord Ozai.

            The story deals with themes of accepting responsibility, friendship, and sacrifice. Aang is a figure who represents innocence, peace, and forgiveness. The film takes place in a traditional Asian setting and is influenced by Hindu beliefs.

            Shyamalan produced, directed, and wrote the movie. Unfortunately, he’s only 2 for 3. The film could have benefited from Shyamalan being more of a team player and enlisting the help of a screenwriter and better casting agent. The acting was weak, with the exception of Dev Patel (“Slumdog Millioniare”).

            The movie is geared towards children. With that in mind, it’s odd that so many adults are upset that the movie strayed a bit from the original Nickelodeon cartoon. From someone who has never seen the series, it was easy to follow and enjoyable for what it was. “The Last Airbender” had flaws – but I don’t think they were fatal.

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