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The Last Airbender

Cast: Jackson Rathbone, Cliff Curtis, Dev Patel, Nicola Peltz, Shaun Toub, Aasif Mandvi, Cliff Curtis Direction: M. Night Shyamalan

JUST what was M. Night upto this time? The Last Airbender seemingly tries to be so many things all at once that by the time it's over you're left wondering what it was all about.

On the surface, M. Night Shyamalan was out to make a fantasy drama.

No, make that a fantasy- adventure drama. Sorry, it should be martial arts- fantasy- adventure drama.

Oops, I forgot the family genre bit, so it's actually a martial arts- familyfantasy- adventure drama... Heck, just chuck all the nitty- gritties about genre. Let's just say The Last Airbender is a screen adaptation of a Nickelodeon anime series and is directed by apna Shyamalan.

Did I forget the film's in 3- D? If I did, it's just because this is the worst use of 3- D technology on Hollywood screen yet. Mindless as the film is, the technology unfolds on screen in a way that it becomes obvious they added the third dimension as a last, ditch effort, probably aware the film wouldn't sell in a 2- D format.

In the film, the world is divided into four kingdoms of Water, Air, Earth, and Fire. These kingdoms are supervised by an Avatar. The Avatar is a link to the spirit world and has powers to use the might of all four elements.

When young Avatar Aang disappears, the kingdom of Fire attacks the Air Nomads with plans of world domination. As an evil Fire Lord continues conquering the other kingdoms, Aang will eventually return to foil his evil plan.

The cast looks unsure of what's expected of them -- Dev Patel included. But that's probably because all the actors received badly- written roles.

Shyamalan starts off with the obvious intent of fashioning an ambitious sci- fi saga, but soon veers unnecessarily into dark subtexts that only make the film a drab affair.

Given the subject idea at hand, this film should have been all about out- and- out fun. Either Shyamalan's way ahead of his times for us to fully comprehend what he's trying to do of late, or else he's simply lost it.

I'm going with two stars for this one -- that's a star and half more than what this film deserves. Honestly, I'm being liberal because I still believe ( and hope) M. Night hasn't really lost it, that he'll be back in form soon.

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Publication:Mail Today (New Delhi, India)
Date:Jul 10, 2010
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