’nuff said.

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.

0 Responses to “’nuff said.”

  1. j_cheney

    I wasn’t planning on seeing this in the theatre…now I’m not even going to pay a buck for it at Redbox.

  2. Anonymous

    Hee hee. I will always love io9 for their review of the second Transformers movie, and I’m glad to see they’re not dropping the ball.

    • Marie Brennan

      My husband read this entire thing to me out loud while I was working in the kitchen, it was that entertaining.

      Much more so than the movie could possibly be.

  3. dolphin__girl

    This makes me SO sad. I wanted it to be good so very badly, and for a while it seemed so promising….

    • Marie Brennan

      I think the casting kerfuffle was an early sign that the people behind this didn’t actually understand or respect the material.

      • electricpaladin

        Yeah, I wasn’t going to see it in theaters because of the casting, but now I’m not sure I’m going to bother even renting it. It seems like a real sad piece of work.

  4. cheshyre

    MaryAnn Johanson also wrote a great review from a geek perspective with plenty of snark.

    I just keep looking over @ http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/last_airbender/ for the latest pull quotes.

    Reminds me of when the Battlefield Earth movie came out, and the reviews provided much more entertainment than seeing the film ever could.

    • Marie Brennan

      . . . I saw Battlefield Earth.

      I didn’t pay for it, which is the only excuse I can muster. But it isn’t a very good excuse. And I learned my lesson. I can still find the reviews funny even if I haven’t seen the film.

  5. d_c_m

    The good news is, we still have the animated series. And that’s what I’ll be watching tonight.

    Amen! And now to purchase myself some of those fabulous DVDs.

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