First Reviews Of M. Night Shyamalan's Airbender

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The Last Airbender has started test screenings, and the reviews are pouring in. Find out what the people are saying about "M. Night Shyamalan's Star Wars".

The Last Airbender is based on the Nickelodeon cartoon, but the film will be all live-action. The film centers around Aang: A boy with special powers who has to save his world, which is caught in the middle of a war with the Fire Nation. The nations of this world are all based on the elements. Plus, some of the people from these lands can control the elements. Aang can bend air, and is the very last Airbender on the planet. But there are also Waterbenders, and so on. And to top it all off, everyone kicks ass at martial arts. We've been to the set and seen the amazing world M. Night created, but that's all we can say for now.


Ain't It Cool News, however just got two reviews in from the very first screening of Airbender, and the reviews were incredibly mixed.

First Review:

- The score is finished, and fantastic!

The music sounded like a great James Newton Howard original, unlike other test screenings I've seen where it's all music from previous movies.


- The narrator in the intro makes it very clear that the film will be a trilogy.

- The reviewer is impressed with newcomer Noah Ringer in the role of Aang. He's had zero formal acting training until this point, but is a little dynamo when it comes to martial arts. Which is terribly important, since Aang is the heart and soul of this film for he is the last airbender, and he can restore the peace. But this reviewer isn't familiar with the source material at all — but still, a good child lead is hard to come by.

Aang is played by Noah Ringer who absolutely looks great in this role. For a kid carrying the film as the titular character, he does a great job for the most part. I'm convinced that with a few roughly edited and performed scenes fixed by the time it's released, he'll prove he's worth his salt. It looks like this is his first movie too, so I'm even more impressed.


- Shaun Toub, playing the role of Uncle Iroh, is, in their opinion, the best part of the film. Dev Patel from, Slumdog Millionaire, is great as well as the role of Zuko the angry fire lord. But apparently Jackson Rathbone's Sokka is unbearable. We're taking this with a grain of salt as Soka and his sister Katara are the comic relief in this series. So maybe they just weren't ready for that type of martial-arts humor.

Talk about overacting. Not a fan of him in this film. Ugh. Here's hoping they find a way to smooth his performance out, or at least downplay him a bit.


- The fight scenes look great, even when they are still very rough.

- Overall, very pleased said it has a good vibe, and if you can walk out of an extremely rough fantasy film with that feeling, that's a good thing.


Second Review, Not As Nice:

This review is pretty harsh, and we feel the need to mention the reviewer said this was their first test screening. When going into something that's still rough, especially the first time, it's very difficult to look past everything that's unfinished. We hope this was the real issue.


- They hated, hated, hated all of the actors. All of them.

This was some of the most wooden acting I've ever seen. The lead child actor was the main culprit and he seemed amateurish compared to some of the others, [but] his two friends weren't much better. Out of the adult actors, the guy who portrayed Commander Zhao should never be allowed to act again.


- Too much cheese. The reviewer complained that some scenes didn't match the overall feel of the film, and perhaps they tried to incorporate too much from the cartoon. There are some things you can only get away with in animation — like punching a fish to death.

- But they still liked the story and the Earth, Fire, Wind and Water elements. Which really makes us worried, because if you actually like the fantasy plot, the rest shouldn't be that hard to sell. It's a magical world after all.


Read the full reviews in their entirety over at AICN.

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I just started watching the cartoon with my wife this week— add me to the list of people saying "wtf, they filled the cast with WHITE PEOPLE?"