This film is the film 101 on how to not make an adaptation of an existing source material. I'll just get this out in this sentence: I really, really, really, really despise this film yet in a strange sense, I am thankful to it. After watching this film, for the first time in my life I was absolutely irritated and angry at a film. Before this, whenever I saw a bad film I usually just get annoyed and say it was bad then shrug it off. Then this film came along and after I watched it, I wanted to voice my hate of this film and in the long run, I wanted to voice my opinion in general for entertainment media. At first, I was angry because it was a shameful adaptation of one of my favourite cartoons then my hatred turned into thinking why and how an incompetent film like this could ever be made. This film completely change my perception on how I look at and personally critique films today.
This film is directed and written by M. Night Shyamalan and is an adaptation of Avatar:The Last Airbender, one of Nickelodeon's most popular and beloved cartoons and it is a tale about a world where people, who are called benders, can manipulate one of the four main elements of water, air, earth and fire and the Avatar is the only person who can manipulate all of them, making him the Messiah of that world. It would be unfair if I constantly compare this atrocity with the cartoon it was adapted from instead of judging it as a stand alone film and would probably write a list of why you should watch the cartoon instead but I will keep it minimum so that I could keep it to a general level of hate but I make no promises. M. Night Shyamalan has progressively become a joke as the quality of his films have dropped as the years go by. I don't hate him but rather pity him as he does have potential as shown in The Sixth Sense, his most famous and considerably, his best film and Unbreakable, a highly underrated film. He's a good director but the element that has completely let his potential drag is his writing or to simplify: he should not write. Ever since Signs, his writing has gotten laughably worse and worse and I thought it hit the low point with The Happening although that film was probably his most enjoyable one as it was hilarious and entertaining because of how bad it is. That is not the case with The Last Airbender.
The film begins by mirroring the opening intro of the cartoon and sadly, this is the only part of the film where it is the most faithful to the cartoon. After that, we are introduced to our main characters; Katara, Sokka and eventually the titular Last Airbender, Aang or "Uung", going with how the film pronounces it. The introduction of characters is only 15 minutes and from that time and this scene alone, I could already see some of the many flaws of the entire film. First, the pacing is terrible. When the three main characters are introduced, it is done so fast and so awkwardly that it doesn't give us time to breathe and get to know these characters or what is going on in general and this pacing problem is predominant throughout the film. This is the result of Shyamalan trying to cram 20 episodes of story into a two hour film. Second, the dialogue is awkward and embarrassing. This is a Shyamalan trademark where the characters don't speak like normal people and is completely unnatural. You could say it makes them quirky but in reality, it makes them annoying and irritating. Third, the effects are very average at best. The effects are probably the best thing about this film but it says nothing to the quality and it is more of a distraction. Fourth, the acting is horrendously bad and the actors are wholly miscast. Putting aside that casting white actors in the main roles in contrast to the adaptation that was predominantly Eastern Asian and Inuit culture influenced was step one on trying to make this film as inaccurate to the cartoon as possible, the wooden, not-giving-a-shit expressions on the actor's faces, their terrible interpretation dance martial arts choreography and their monotone delivery in conjunction with the already embarrassing dialogue was my final verdict that this film was going to suck.
30 minutes into the film and I already hate it. I hate the characters, I have no idea which plot point I am following and I hate how it interprets the cartoon with each painful scene after the other. After nothing interesting or eventful happens, we come across the film's most infamous scene where the main characters stumbles upon a prison camp full of earthbenders, one of the four bender types who can manipulate any type of earth at will. Where the hell do I start? This entire scene completely cemented my full hatred of this film because it is the point were it completely desecrates its source material and it is the moment where I was intellectually insulted as a general audience and to add insult to injury, this scene has nothing to do with the plot and can be edited out of the film altogether. The prison camp is surround in earth, which means that the earthbenders could just escape any time they want because there are like 5-6 firebender guards and a lot of earthbenders. Aang or "Uung" did ask why they are being dumbasses for not escaping, which they answered "because we have no hope" in which I replied "bullshit". In the cartoon, the earthbenders were imprisoned in an oil rig in the middle of the ocean with little to no earth so it made more sense. Also, the action scene is just atrociously shot and badly choreographed. The action scene is shot in one take, which makes the whole scene draining and unexciting, the actors and the extras either just stand there or do weird looking choreography and most importantly, why does it take 6 earthbenders to move one measly rock!?! Can someone tell me why it took 6 earthbenders to move one tiny fucking rock?!? This is probably the point where I would storm out of the cinema.
After watching one of the worst, most insulting scenes I have ever seen in any movie, the movie unfortunately doesn't get much better than that as it moves on. Terrible pacing, pointless plot points, bad acting, and awkward, wooden dialogue are consistent throughout and it doesn't help that the earthbender prison scene still lingers as my brain gradually shrinks from watching any more of this god forsaken film. As the film finishes on sequel bait, the film painfully ends as you see the M. Night Shyamalan name at the start of the end credits and at that moment, your middle finger instinctively eclipses his name. I have never been so irritated and angry at a film in all my life. It's not just that it completely shits on what made the cartoon so great but it's knowing that a film this bad can get you so emotional at a very negative level. Would I even recommend this film? Maybe there are people who like this film and if that's the case even if you are 100% wrong then that's fine but I wouldn't recommend this film to anyone or anything. This is a master class in terms of full cinematic failure. Watch the cartoon but never watch this film.