The Last Airbender, the movie, is a must see if you want to learn how NOT to make a film.
Hard to figure out how someone M. Night Shyamalan – director without rudimentary skill of basic Arch-plot writing could be afforded such resources to make a movie like this.
Unneeded voice-over to explain entire chunks of plot – check.
Montages to show the passage of time and major events – check.
Endless expository dialogue – check.
Zero character development – check.
It’s a virtual classroom with the lesson of “here’s how this movie did something – Why doesn’t it work as a storytelling device?”
The Last Airbender the movie is probably not a 7% which was the rating on the Rotten Tomatoes website. I attribute that low rating to all the die-hard fans of the Last Airbender cartoon series which took the same characters and idea and made the exact opposite choices – i.e. No VO. No Montages.
Information that came as a consequence of character interaction and physical action. Humor and genuine character relationships that were established and then grew over the course of the narrative.
However, the film IS almost like an outline or rough draft of the incredible movie that could have been made.
It’s almost like they shot half a movie and took it to studio execs and said “we are thinking of turning this into a FEATURE FILM!”
As an exec I would have said great… go back and finish the draft and let’s get Peter Jackson to direct.
It’s also a lesson in how NOT to adapt source material. I guarantee you that if you gave it a chance and watched through the 3 seasons of the Last Airbender cartoon version you would have seen the potential for something amazing as I did, and then felt the disappointment…