Before I launch on â€œThe Last Airbenderâ€ first let me say that Iâ€™m not familiar with the movieâ€™s source material.Â Iâ€™ve purposely been avoiding the series so I could approach M. Night Shymalanâ€™s latest film without any preconceived notions.
Iâ€™ve loved M. Night Shymalan since â€œThe Sixth Sense.â€Â â€œLady in the Waterâ€ is a beautiful movie – scary, moving, funny and tragic.Â I dug â€œUnbreakable,â€ â€œThe Village,â€ even â€œSignsâ€ great despite itâ€™s huge plot hole.Â I imagine a scene where the aliens (the aliens whoâ€™s physiology is utterly compromised by water) are sitting around a table and discussing planets they might invade.
One of them pipes up, â€œHey you guys I got an idea.Â We should invade Earth.â€
â€œEarth?Â Never heard of it.â€
â€œOh, Earth rocks.Â Itâ€™s like 70% water – there is so much water in the atmosphere, water vapor condenses into liquid and falls from the sky.â€
The others look at their comrade in disgust, â€œYou want us to go to a place that is covered in 70% acid and that same stuffs falls right out of the sky?â€
â€œWell, they have chocodiles.â€
I could roll with all that because ultimately â€œSignsâ€ was not about an alien invasion.Â It was a compelling story about a man dealing with the loss of his wife and a crisis of faith.Â I could roll with it because the characters were living their own stories and that is what made those movies so great to watch.
â€œThe Last Airbenderâ€ has none of the strengths of Shyamalanâ€™s other movies and all of the flaws.Â There is so much plot to plow through there is really no time at all the learn about, empathize with, or care about any of the characters.Â The characters in â€œThe Last Airbenderâ€ only have time to deliver exposition.Â They are shallow, stiff, cardboard representations of characters.Â As a result, when the actors have an opportunity to act, there was no drama because I didnâ€™t care about any of the characters on screen.
The movie closes on a note that reeks of sequel.Â Maybe subsequent efforts will be more enjoyable.Â I have my doubts.
As a sidebar, I dig the nature of an adaptation.Â From book to film, or television to film, or whatever to whatever, the narrative experience has to change to meet the constraints and strengths of the medium the story is being adapted to.Â I canâ€™t imagine that fans of the series will enjoy this movie.Â There was just too much plot to get through and the only way to get there is to sacrifice the characters.
Joss Whedonâ€™s Shepard Book said, â€œHow we get there is the worthier part.â€Â Iâ€™d add that who we travel with is as important – I want to care about the folks with me on the journey.Â Its that feeling of empathy that gives the victories and defeats meaning.Â â€œThe Last Airbenderâ€ seemed like it had a great story – Iâ€™ll get a hold of the DVDs and check it out in itâ€™s original form.