The Last Airbender

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If M Night Shyamalan’s po-faced fantasy epic were half as much fun as its ridiculous title suggests, it might have been possible to salvage a smidgen of entertainment from it. Instead, one is bored and stupefied by what seems like an eternity of vacuous spectacle, cod-Buddhist tosh and clunking dialogue. Even more embarrassing than the risible ‘Lady in the Water’, this wildly misjudged farrago is portentous but never profound, laughable but not remotely funny and action-packed without ever being exciting – all in fuzzy, retro-fitted 3D.

Having been awol for 100 years – during which time the world was thrown out of balance (yawn) and the bellicose Fire Nation conquered the peaceful Southern Water Tribe with their fearsome war machines – the shaven-headed Aang (Noah Ringer) is released from a sphere of ice by two Water Tribe children, Katara (Nicola Peltz) and her older brother Sokka (Jackson Rathbone). It looks like Aang may be the mythical Avatar, the only being who can control all four elements: Earth, Fire, Water and Air. Various interested parties, including the Fire Nation’s vengeful, exiled Prince Zuko (Dev Patel), are determined to harness or suppress the Avatar’s powers.

A series of confusing adventures, explosive battles and vaguely spiritual confrontations follows, while giant furry creatures float in the air, talking dragon spirits offer sage advice, and the moon turns red with shame. Devotees of the original Nickleodeon animated TV series swear this film adaptation is a travesty of its meaningful, allegorical themes – but most of them were aged between six and 12 when they first saw it. Either way, if your actual or mental  age exceeds this, steer well clear.

By: Nigel Floyd

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