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July 2, 2010 > Movie Review: The Last Airbender

Movie Review: The Last Airbender

By Jennifer Gau

The Last Airbender is another 3-D movie to come out this year, and not one to miss. M. Night Shyamalan wrote, produced, and directed this action-packed story filled with adventure and legends. It is crammed with choreographed Tai Chi moves, Chinese cultural undertones, and fantastic heroism.

The mythical world of four nations - Air, Water, Earth, and Fire - relies on destiny. Katara (Nicola Peltz), a Waterbender, and her brother, Sokka (Jackson Rathbone), find Aang (Noah Ringer) in an ice sphere while hunting for food. They live in a world where the Fire Nation has launched a merciless war against the other nations. Aang, from the Air Nation, can bend all four elements - the Avatar. It has been a century since the Avatar has emerged and Aang is faced with a huge responsibility... to restore peace among the nations.

Aang has a big problem; he has not completed Avatar training and still needs to master his bending skills. This movie is the first "book" of three so the saga continues beyond this movie's conclusion. In this episode, with the help of his new friends, Aang gives the nations hope against the Fire Nation.

The story is based on the Nickelodeon animated TV series, "Avatar: The Last Airbender." A few differences are noticeable to the TV show fans. In the TV series, much of the show is about building friendships. With the limited time of a movie compared to a series, the same friendships are not fully developed; most of it needs to be filled in by narration. Another difference is the lack of comedic effect offered by Sokka even though there are hints of it; the majority of his expressions are grave and serious.

The music score fits well with the action scenes. It helps to convey the mysterious and intense story of a world that relies on the Avatar to keep peace and balance. Casting and costumes are also well done. These characters closely resemble the animated characters. I does seem difficult in this movie, however, to portray teenagers with adult responsibilities.

In any case, Nicola Peltz and Jackson Rathbone make a convincing team of brother and sister. Dev Patel, a familiar face from "Slumdog Millionaire," plays a determined and young tortured soul as the prince of the Fire Nation, shunned by his own father. An uncle provides great wisdom and protection as the prince follows the Avatar in hopes of regaining his honor.

The Last Airbender does not stray too much from the TV series. Both fans and curious first-timers will appreciate Aang's adventure that exemplifies good morals and proves that if there is a will, there is a way.

Runtime: 1 hour 43 minutes
Rated: PG

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