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The boys at AICN have the first reviews for M. Night Shyamalan’s upcoming “The Last Airbender” (aka “Avatar: The Last Airbender”), these from a very early test screening for the movie recently held in Arizona. The reviews, appropriately enough, are complete polar opposites — one positive and one negative. The latter sounds like he actually saw the movie, while the first one (the positive one) sounded like he reviewed the film based entirely off the teaser trailer and images from the movie that have been released so far. I could be wrong, but that’s just my impression.
Read the reviews in their entirety over at AICN. Here’s an excerpt from the positive one:
Overall, I think they have a fun-to-watch summer movie here. I’d put it more on the Narnia level rather than the Lord of the Rings level, but still it has a nice feel to it and unlike most of the other test screenings I’ve been to, I’m actually really looking forward to watching this one again when released to see how it looks in the end, and hoping I am not as bothered by Rathbone then. I’m hoping it’ll help Shyamalan get out of his rut, because I haven’t liked anything he’s done in quite a while (though I’m convinced that if he made Lady in the Water a children’s fantasy with the characters all kids, it would’ve worked and been accepted).
The reviewer thought the young lead, Noah Ringer, did a bang up job in his first movie. The second reviewer — not so much. In fact, he thought everyone, for the most part, couldn’t act their way out of a wet paper bag.
Whoever cast this film should be taken to task, because, if this was the best group of actors you could assemble, I’d hate to see the ones you rejected. 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, 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. His line reading was atrocious, especially when acting next to others such as Cliff Curtis (although he’s been better) and Dev Patel . They were actually the only ones coming out of this one unscathed.
There were also some weird scenes here and there interjected throughout the movie. An oddly miss-placed scene featuring a foot massage as well as some corny attempts setting up romances. One scene that I laughed at (but was intended to be serious) is when a certain baddy punches a fish to death. The horror the horror!
One of the baddies punch a fish to death. Seriously, he might have thought that was a bad thing, but that might just convince me to see this movie.
As always, these are based on very early test screenings, which means incomplete special effects and, for the most part, temp music. The finished product are always different, especially with the CG filled in. When it comes to these big-budget studio fantasy films, CG is pretty much half of the battle.
Then again, CG can’t exactly help bad acting, so ….