That’s right, I warned ya! Warned ya ’till I was blue in the face, but ya just had ta take yourselves up ta Old Man Shyamalan’s house anyhow, didn’t ya? And now, you’ll never forget the horror… never forget those lost hours of your life wearin’ them dumb little glasses and willingly subjectin’ yourself to some of the worst cinema in years. The Last Airbender had a 0% rating at Rotten Tomatoes once all the early screenings weighed in, and now it’s up to a whopping 8% overall after over 120 reviews counted. That’s worse than Marmaduke. You probably think rotten tomatoes just grow on trees, don’t you? Well, they don’t! They grow on tomato plants! And then they gotta get sick or overripe!
Feh. Actually, I’m sure a lot of you did actually heed my advice and take a pass. I know I did. You think I’m paying one thin dime to see this movie, even out of curiosity now to see how bad it is? Okay, admittedly, I did go see The Spirit in theaters just precisely for that reason, but from what I’ve been reading, The Last Airbender movie doesn’t have nearly the amount of pure batshit insanity that makes The Spirit so special (in the way the Special Olympics is also special). Anyone I’ve heard from who did go see The Last Airbender left disappointed, at best. It wasn’t even just a disappointment to fans of the series, it was a disappointment as a movie, even a mindless Summer popcorn movie. It’s apparently the kind of movie that would have rabid fans of Transformers 2 turning up their noses at its shallowness. It’s a movie that cost anywhere from $150 to $280 million dollars (sources vary), that so far has made back only $69 million of that investment. This may, at long last, finally be the fork stuck in the cheesy, stale casserole men once knew as M. Night.
My God, I might actually be talking myself into it. It’s the reviews, you see. They’re so hyperbolic. In some cases, almost fanboyishly angry, even from top names. They felt the need to devote some time to the suck, not just write a few sentences and be done with it the way you would with crap like Meet The Spartans. A combination of beloved source material, horrible movie, and fallen star director seems to have produced a perfect storm of criticism, with the internationally acclaimed joining in condemnation to the humblest Internet sites. Let’s look at some examples:
- “The Last Airbender is an agonizing experience in every category I can think of and others still waiting to be invented.” – Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun Times
- “The Last Airbender is dreadful, an incomprehensible fantasy-action epic that makes the 2007 film The Golden Compass, a similarly botched adaptation of a beloved property from another medium, look like a four-star classic.” – Ty Burr, Boston Globe
- “You can relax, bloggers. The dearth of racially appropriate casting in the U.S. simply means that fewer Asians were humiliated by appearing in what is surely the worst botch of a fantasy epic since Ralph Bakshi’s animated desecration of The Lord of the Rings back in 1978. The actors who didn’t get to be in The Last Airbender are like the passengers who arrived too late to catch the final flight of the Hindenburg.” – Richard Corliss, TIME Magazine
- “M. Night Shyamalan’s big-screen live-action version of the popular Nickelodeon animated TV series constitutes a form of Chinese water torture in which tin-ear line-readings take the place of drips.” – Joe Morgenstern, The Wall Street Journal
- “…the film works so hard to explain its plot developments that it scarcely has any time left over to dramatize them. Exposition has not merely vanquished mimesis, it has burned its homes to the ground and sown salt in its fields.” – Christopher Orr, The Atlantic
- “Shyamalan wanted to ensure that his film, his Last Airbender would not be lost in the Hollywood dross: he wanted to assure this he was presenting the audience with awfulness on a scale that would boggle the mind. He wanted to leave us shaking our heads and marveling at a terribleness that was not merely terrible, but a terribleness that leaves you astonished at just how very, very terrible it is.” – MaryAnn Johnson, FlickFilosopher.com
- “The most well-rounded failure of the year so far.” – Neil Miller, Film School Rejects
- “If any movie ever warranted a class-action lawsuit against the filmmakers, it’s The Last Airbender.” – Keith Phipps, Onion AV Club
- “The Last Airbender is a film directed by M. Night Shyamalan, in much the same way that a steaming pile of crap on your lawn is “directed” by your dog’s anus” – Cracked.com
Of course, if you’re the type who doesn’t trust them critics, you could always get the word of the fan on the street:
But out of all these reviews, my favorite line is from Jordan Hoffman of UGO.com, who ends his saddened rant with a simple declaration:
People are going to be talking about this debacle for a long time to come, methinks. It might very well be Yakmala! worthy, although first I would have to work up the stomach for a screening. Even the behind-the-scenes details continue to be insane, such as Shyamalan’s insistence on proper Asian pronunciation for the characters’ names (thus changing how they were said in the animated series), while at the same time casting a bunch of white folks as the leads. And that still wouldn’t have been as big of a problem had the white folks in question been able to act… as it is, talent certainly doesn’t seem to have been any factor in the decision to make eskimos into caucasoids.
I can’t believe that link above is a condensed interview. He defends himself by saying he included black people in the Earth Kingdom and we’ll all be sorry when we see the second film. He’s, uh… shouting at us? “…the accusers will feel like they won. YOU DID NOT WIN! YOU DID NOT WIN!”
Unfortunately for him, I really don’t think there’ll be a second film.
On a brighter note, Dawn and I finished watching the original cartoon this week. Season 1 was not a fluke. I can’t remember any animated series I’ve ever watched that told such a beautiful, epic, cohesive storyline, with such a satisfying conclusion, as that in Avatar: The Last Airbender. For the love of all things holy (or atheisty), watch this show while Netflix Instant is still mainlining it to your television. Or you’ll be sorry. I warned ya.