|As a mega-fan, I was breathless with anticipation; the special effects looked sweet from the previews, the realization of the vision seemed on the money, and even though they refused to cast actors of Asian or Inuit descent and thus started a boycott, I was willing to forgive and go along with M. even though the Happening didn’t happen for me. It turned out this was a terrible idea. From the first 15 minutes, not only was I disappointed, I was disgusted and very nearly made it my first “Cinema Walk Out” ever.
Except for the kid who played Aang, the casting was abominable. The acting was atrocious. Every line was delivered with over-reaching emphasis or as if the actors had never ACTUALLY felt those emotions before! It made it nearly impossible for even us hardcore fans to sync up and suspend disbelief. And aside from the stunning costume design, the characters became nothing like their cartoon counterparts!
The flow of the film was staccato at best, which is ironic, since the purpose of the film was to condense and bring continuity and polish to a many-episode series! Some parts were over-condensed, summarized, and narrated, yet there were moments that were dragged out for FAR too long. The story was so terribly butchered, mashed, and reformed that you couldn’t follow the plot if you hadn’t seen the show. There were extreme close ups on faces that made no sense, moments where it seemed like none of the supporting cast knew what they were supposed to be doing. One of the most troubling things is that there were none of the jokes we know and love from the series! The only laughs it got were hysterical guffaws from audience members who couldn’t believe that that was how the scene was staged or the line delivered.
The actors couldn’t even pronounce the names correctly! Aang is ay-ng, not Ong. It’s Ai-ro not Ear- ro, Saw-kuh, not Soe-ka.
As I sat there, I caught myself thinking: “This has all the terrible stiltedness of one of the great childhood classics like Labyrinth or Neverending Story, minus all the redeeming charm, whimsy, gifted direction, or enchanting thema.” And in no way did the special effects make up for it. There were a few awesome snippets from fight sequences, but they were largely terribly crafted (too slow or too fast; too rehearsed or filled with people almost play fighting in the back ground–or worst, went on far too long, past pique, until you could give a shit). I mean a fucking tidal wave happens and he directs everyone to just stand around and go…. “Um, should we move the ship?…what if I put my arms like this, would that be dramatical enough, Mr. di-rec-ter?”
At one point I heard someone say, “What’s this, the interpretive dance scene? Is he going to express his feelings at the Fire Nation?”
Our audience began as a packed, squirming 500+ occupancy theater and ended with a diminished crowd of savage fans stomping through the snowfield of popcorn thrown on the ground in outrage by the steady stream of people who stormed out DURING the film. If I could popcorn bend, I would have been set for some serious dueling. I mean I’ve never seen so much garbage thrown around or heard so many pissed off people growling. This was a travesty, and I swear I will never see another Shyamalan movie ever; he wrote directed, and produced this betrayal and had the nerve to be proud of it. He had so much to work with: a beautiful landscape, a moving plot, a complex interplay between morals and humor, and a cast of wonderful characters, and he fucked it up!
The worst part is, they plan on making it into a franchise.
This has an %8 on rotten tomatoes.