io9 on The Last Airbender: “M Night Shamalan Finally Made a Comedy.”
The Last Airbender is a lavish parody of big-budget fantasy epics. It’s got everything: the personality-free hero, the nonsensical plot twists, the CG clutter, the bland romance, the new-age pablum. No expense is spared — Shyamalan even makes sure to make fun of distractingly shitty 3-D, by featuring it in his movie.
Shyamalan’s true achievement in this film is that he takes a thrilling cult TV series, Avatar: The Last Airbender, and he systematically leaches all the personality and soul out of it — in order to create something generic enough to serve as a universal spoof of every epic, ever. All the story beats from the show’s first season are still present, but Shyamalan manages to make them appear totally arbitrary. Stuff happens, and then more stuff happens, and what does it mean? We never know, because it’s time for more stuff to happen. You start out laughing at how random and mindless everything in this movie is, but about an hour into it, you realize that the movie is actually laughing at you, for watching it in the first place. And it’s laughing louder than you are, because it’s got Dolby surround-sound and you’re choking on your suspension of disbelief.
Later in the film, Katara says my favorite line ever, “We need to show them that we believe in our beliefs as much as they believe in their beliefs.” It’s as if Shyamalan had a cue card that he was planning to turn into an actual bit of dialog, but he forgot. There’s a lot of cue-card writing in this film, and it feels like Shyamalan is leaving things as sign-posty as possible, in order to make fun of the by-the-numbers storytelling in so many Hollywood epics. The master has come to school us all.
Also, Roger Ebert on same:
“The Last Airbender” is an agonizing experience in every category I can think of and others still waiting to be invented. The laws of chance suggest that something should have gone right. Not here. It puts a nail in the coffin of low-rent 3D, but it will need a lot more coffins than that.
The good news is, we still have the animated series. And that’s what I’ll be watching tonight.