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Movie Review: The Last Airbender

When you drive an hour to experience a drive-in, you might as well go all the way and watch two movies. We had planned on seeing Sorcerer's Apprentice and Toy Story 3 (which I had already seen) but ToniAnne's daughter had also seen the latter show twice before, so we moved to the second screen and watched "The Last Airbender" instead. Wife said after we came home, "Please warn me if you're planning to take me to another movie by Shymalan!" Heh - I had to chuckle about that - but here's where the expected flaying takes a slightly different turn.

I actually enjoyed it. As I think about the reasons why, I think it was because I had never seen the original cartoon series (and I knew in advance that the movie was trying to cram too much information into a single film) and the effects were good. Make no mistake - the acting was abominable, with all due respect to the players. That, at least, was apparent from the very first moment; and, it seemed more because the cast selected was unknown and untrained, rather than well-known or top-drawer actors being poorly directed. But as the film progressed, I found myself being drawn into the story, which is probably more of a credit to the source material than the live-action version.

At this point, I want to watch the animated series. I just looked at a preview on Amazon, and I'm saddened that Shymalan's version was so poor - because it could have been spectacular. [Small rant: Two of the most visually impactful scenes which were shown in the theatrical previews didn't even appear in the movie. Snarl! I hate it when they do that...]

On a more general note, I'm not sure what's up with Mr. Shymalan. Sixth Sense, of course, was perfectly executed. His reputation of being a one-hit wonder or a one-trick horse doesn't seem entirely deserved, because I've perceived that his films are not meant to be horror by nature, but rather excursions into the human mind. I enjoyed Unbreakable and Lady in the Water - and even The Village and Signs were entertaining enough - but he just hasn't been able to get things to click since his first major hit. I'm hoping he's got at least another blockbuster in there, because when he does it right, it's phenomenal.

Overall Rating: Six stars out of ten.

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Jul. 31st, 2010 04:24 pm (UTC)
Shyamalan's future is dim. When people tired of his signature formula, he made a completely different kind of movie (as he would have with Unbreakable if not for executive meddling) and got good reviews only from people unfamiliar with the source material. Add his reputation for arrogance, and I suspect he'll fade away in the next decade.


The Old Wolf

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