In a mostly Chinese world where the practice of Tai Chi gives you the power to control the four elements we find a tired and trite movie. Our hero is a small boy who is the only survivor of a race of Monks who lived in high temples and had the power to bend air. Everyone, with the exception of our tiny hero, speaks in a stiff and overly formalized style. So it is a shock every time Aang says anything in his hip and modern American fashion. This was a George Lucas style special effects movie-think Phantom Menace, not Star Wars.
I knew I was in trouble when the Coming Attractions started rolling-they were all for kids movies-like Disney Princess style kids movies. I didn’t expect M Night Shyamalan to be making a Saturday Morning cartoon and I didn’t expect to see those dreaded words-To Be Continued -as the credits started to roll either.
The story is a well worn and familiar one with nothing remotely original about it. Our poor little hero is given a quest by the gods and evil forces stand in the way of completing that quest. One of the many odd and wrong notes in The Last Airbender is a white haired girl with a gigantic fake smile plaster on her face, even as her city is being destroyed. The cast is filled with odd choices and the story rambles and roams in countless meaningless directions.
I have never seen the cartoon and never even heard of it, so I didn’t have any expectations on that front. The cartoon is named Avatar, a title that’s already been taken in the movie universe. It would have been nice if there had been something in the trailer that said From The Hit Nickelodeon Cartoon instead of featuring M Night Shyamalan’s name-not a name that springs to mind when you mention children’s films. Of course, then I would not have gone to see it.