The Last Airbender

The four elemental nations once got along thanks to the help of the master of the elements, the Avatar. But that was in the past. Long ago the Avatar disappeared and the power hungry Fire Nation has since been destroying all other nations in an attempt to develop their natural element wielding skills. But the discovery of a mysteriously tattooed boy, Aang, found in the ice by a young waterbender, Katara, and her brother, Sokka, may mean there is a way to achieve peace and once again unite the elements.

The first Avatar movie very closely follows the story of the first season, called Book One, of the original television show. However the translation of the beloved Nickelodeon cartoon into film has taken some very serious criticism for changes made in the race of the actors who portray the lead characters.

To make fans further iffy about the film the plot moves so quickly that at times the lead characters directly state the story to one another, a distracting and very obvious plot device. Furthering the film’s strange execution is the poor over-acting that fills almost every “emotional” scene. While this strong form of drama is very accurate to the original cartoon, the impact is lost in the translation to the big screen.

Still some things about seeing “The Last Airbender” as a film are really fun. The costumes and environments are both true to the original story. Adding to the fun are clever real world adaptations of the original show’s details, such as Aang’s Airbender tattoos. But where the film really excels is in the elemental battles that define the frequent and large-scale action sequences. Part fantasy and part martial art inspired, these fight scenes help to define the characters while providing visual speed to the otherwise overly paced film.

Fans will enjoy seeing the ideas of “The Last Airbender” executed in live action, but there is no real need for 3D. The film does show some of the character developing talent M. Night Shyamalan is known for, but the rushed pace and forced drama is hard to ignore.

3 out of 5 stars