The Last Airbender – DVD review

If only it was – there are two more to come…

2010 * PG * 103 mins * £19.99 * 13 December 2010
Also available on Blu-ray (£27.99)
Distributor:
Paramount Home Entertainment
Director:
M Night Shyamalan
Cast: Noah Ringer, Nicola Peltz, Jackson Rathebone, Dev Patel, Shaun Toub

Eight years since he last made a half-decent film (and there are people who’ll debate whether Signs counts…) the redemption of M Night Shyamalan has gone well into extra time. It’s evident from the stylistic love shown to The Last Airbender, Shyamalan’s live-action adaptation of Nickelodeon toon Avatar, that the much-denounced director dearly hoped this would be it.

It’s not. Indeed, it’s almost astounding how bad it transpires to be.

True, he’s not given much to work with – Asian action stylings aside, Avatar was only ever an ecologically-sound take on Mighty Morphin Power Rangers – but the basic requirements of film direction are blown by Shyamalan with regimented, almost poetic buffoonery. The script is awful throughout, delivered by characters who are seemingly comatose and operated by a drunk puppeteer. Even the normally impressive Dev Patel sees his talents reduced to looking like he’s stubbed his toe every time he’s required to be on screen.

Visually it looks great. But then you can dress a turd up in a ballgown and ask it to dance. It’s still a turd. Worst of all, The Last Airbender is boring. As an exercise in making conservation fun it makes you want to eat a McDonalds, set fire to the packaging and laugh in defiance at the film’s lumpen, patronising tone. You may, at this juncture, be asking yourself where the one star comes from? Well, there’s a big mutant space cat in it that we quite liked. Come here kitty, have a star – it’s all yours.

Extras:

A miserly selection on the one-disc DVD (rated): just four deleted scenes, a gag reel, and the creators of the TV show chatting in featurette “Origins of The Avatar” (seven mins). The triple-play Blu-ray adds picture-in-picture “Avatar Annotations”, nine-part Making Of “Discovering The Last Airbender” (55 mins) and two more featurettes – one concerns the set design of the northern city (18 mins); another spends a day on set with Nicola Peltz (five mins).

James McMahon