The Last Airbender


Shyamalan is out of his element…

The Last Airbender review - There are a lot of benders in M. Night Shyamalan’s latest.

There are Firebenders, Earthbenders and Waterbenders. There’s only one Airbender though. In many ways, he’s the biggest bender of them all.

Done chortling? Good. Because there are many other things to laugh at besides the fact that ‘bender’ has certain childish connotations this side of the pond.

You have Slumdog Millionaire’s Dev Patel, scowling and petulant as a banished prince who can’t return home until he has located an all-powerful ‘Avatar’ unseen for 100 years. (“Bring me all your elderly!” he orders in one of the more priceless lines.)

You have insipid teen sibs Katara (Nicola Peltz) and Sokka (Jackson Rathbone) who, despite residing in the icy North, talk like they’ve flown in from Sweet Valley High.

And you have Airbending Avatar Aang himself (Noah Ringer), a pint-sized baldie with a Mohican-style tattoo and nought charisma. (“Do you have a spiritual place?” he asks, as if enquiring where the loo is.)

Fans of the original animated TV show will be up to speed on the fundamentals of the Airbender-verse, a land where each of the four elements has its own ‘Nation’ and where the gifted few – through a boggling combination of mind control, Tai Chi and dodgy FX – can manipulate those elements.

With no Airbenders to keep the peace, the Fire Nation is out to conquer all. To stop them, Aang must learn to bend water, fire and earth too. Little of the above is rendered exciting or even intelligible onscreen.

 But the bottom line is that Shyamalan, Oscar-nominated director of The Sixth Sense, the bloke once regarded as the next Spielberg, has been reduced to a Lord Of The Rings-Heroes-Golden Compass mash-up laden with some of the worst acting, action and dialogue you’ll endure this year.

Some may take heart that, having sunk so low, Night can’t possibly go any lower. But didn’t we think that with The Happening?


Half a star for James Newton Howard’s imperious score and another for Andrew Lesnie’s lensing. But even that’s marred by muddy 3D in a film lacking any sort of dimension.

Film Details

User Reviews

    • OnScreen

      Aug 13th 2010, 8:57


      This film sucked big time! Here's what our full opinion: (Hope you don't mind the links Dan)

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    • madrox

      Aug 13th 2010, 13:03


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    • willow138

      Aug 21st 2010, 3:35


      This is the BIGGEST let down ever. I watched the original series a few years ago and love every episode. There was such huge scope for 3 fantastic film versions. Yet the first movie was total w*!k. So sad because they condensed it in all the wrong places. The casting was all wrong too. All the characters seem to have changed race, physicality and attitude. Worst movie adaptation ever.

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    • willow138

      Aug 21st 2010, 3:37

      oh and their names are pronounced incorrectly as well as some characters who are important being left out.

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    • CtrlClick

      Jan 9th 2011, 10:15


      First time while watching a film that I thought the choreography was all wrong. It’s like they didn’t put any effort into the fight sequence. It’s was something I’d expect to see in xena warrior princess. The story in the cartoon was better written and better acted. The casting was all wrong.

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    • sevdamm

      Feb 25th 2011, 9:55

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