Animation adaptations into real world films haven't fared so well recently, titles such as Dragonball Z have fallen by the wayside and left fans to resorting back to watching their old season collections on DVD. Similarly, M. Night Shyamalan has not had a good directing run recently, his past few films, The Happening and Lady in the Water, have been panned both critically and commercially. The Last Airbender may be based on some great material, but the real life adaptation just isn't an enjoyable film, or adults or for children.
The Last Airbender stars Aang, a hero who would prefer to play around rather than take on his role as an avatar. Aang and his friends Katara and Sokka travel to the North Pole to find a Waterbending master to teach Aang and Katara the secrets of the craft. While this is happening a war is brewing with Fire Lord Ozai who is targeting the Earth Kingdom and the Water Tribes after already vanquishing the Air Nomads. An animation series gets 26 episodes over several seasons to describe this, The Last Airbender only has an hour and forty five minutes.
It must be said that this is only just a passable film, but only just. There are very few memorable moments and when you come to the end of the film it's hard not to feel relieved that you've actually made it. I don't think children are actually likely to sit through the entire film, it's full of wooden dialogue, so as a child's film The Last Airbender really fails, as an adult watching the movie it is unlikely I would ever feel possessed to watch the movie again, despite the fact that the box office success of the movie suggests a sequel is probably an inevitability.
On Blu-Ray The Last Airbender looks great. It is a movie that contains many special effects, unfortunately (or fortunately) the crisp look of Blu-Ray only helps to bring out the films visual shortcomings, there are special effects that look fake, at the beginning of the movie it feels as if the whole introduction is green screened, it's a really quick way for the viewer to feel disconnected from the film.
On my PlayStation 3 the video quality hovered around 24Mbps and at times the film can look stunning, when the special effects are up to scratch. The panoramic scenes (such as one over the Southern Air Temple) look great and when Shyamalan is playing with the colours (such as Aang in his trademark yellow outfit passing by the lush green tree) the film does look good. The small details that Blu-Ray brings out such as markings on the back of Aang's head do look good.
This transfer features a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track which hovers around 3.5 to 4.0 Mbps and the movie sounds great. The fire throwing and waterbending sound fierce coming through my 5.1 speakers and the Master Audio track is a solid way to show off your surround sound system. While there are no other audio tracks the disc does contain subtitles in English, French, German, Spanish, Dutch, Danish, Finnish, Norwegian and Swedish.
Discovering The Last Airbender (58:15/HD): Discovering The Last Airbender is a nine part documentary which is sort of like a making of, this documentary is worth watching if you want to know a little more about the film as it does provide some extra detail on the some of the characters.
Origins of the Avatar (7:18/HD): This showcases of the original animation and shows how The Last Airbender links in with the animation.
Katara for a Day (5:37/HD): This is a short featurette that takes a close look at what life is like on the set for a young actress in a major motion picture.
Deleted Scenes (11:24/HD): There are only eleven minutes of deleted scenes, which given the pacing of the film really should have been longer, these are mostly throwaway scenes and their deletion makes perfect sense.
Avatar Annotations (HD): This is a picture-in-picture feature that offers behind the scenes footage as well as interviews as the film plays. Fans of the film, or filmmaking, may get something from this track.
Review By: Luke Van Leuveren