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Roger Ebert Hates The Last Airbender

In spite of our unease about some of its casting decisions, we’ve had high hopes for The Last Airbender, the M. Night Shyamalan-directed adaptation of the excellent cartoon series, which hits theaters on July 1st. But man … it’s been getting Jonah Hex-like abysmal reviews. It currently has a 00% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, and Roger Ebert just dropped a review that gives The Last Airbender a half a star out of four and proceeds to tear the movie to shreds.

Ebert has been more lenient than he used to be in his earlier years as a reviewer, and he’s generally sympathetic to the fact that movies aimed at children don’t necessarily aim to hit the same receptors as movies for adults. But when a review begins, “‘The Last Airbender’ is an agonizing experience in every category I can think of and others still waiting to be invented,” you know you’re in for a treat.

A few choice snippets:

M. Night Shyamalan’s [3D] retrofit produces the drabbest, darkest, dingiest movie of any sort I’ve seen in years. You know something is wrong when the screen is filled with flames that have the vibrancy of faded Polaroids. It’s a known fact that 3D causes a measurable decrease in perceived brightness, but “Airbender” looks like it was filmed with a dirty sheet over the lens.

As “The Last Airbender” bores and alienates its audiences, consider the opportunities missed here. (1) This material should have become an A-list animated film. (2) It was a blunder jumping aboard the 3D bandwagon with phony 3D retro-fitted to a 2D film. (3) If it had to be live action, better special effects artists should have been found. It’s not as if films like “2012” and “Knowing” didn’t contain “real life” illusions as spectacular as anything called for in “The Last Airbender.”

This is right up there with Ebert’s most blistering and funniest jeremiads, and is well worth the full read.

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