Given the critical maulings his recent films (Lady in the Water, The Happening) have received, director M. Night Shyamalan was likely braced for negative reactions to his new opus The Last Airbender. But the venom directed at this $280-million, 3D movie is startlingly poisonous, even by the standards of this year's other critical stinkers Sex and the City 2 and Grown-Ups. Not everyone hated it, but detractors far outnumber defenders. Here's a list of quotes you won't be seeing on The Last Airbender's poster: (Watch the trailer for The Last Airbender)
"This is a film that resembles a video game in all the bad ways — Manichean premise, non-existent characterization, an obsession with dutifully explained "rules" — while still managing to miss out on the kinetic momentum of Xboxiness. If there has been a duller, more stagnant action film released this decade, I managed, thank God, to miss it."
—Christopher Orr, The Atlantic
"The Last Airbender is an agonizing experience in every category I can think of and others still waiting to be invented."
—Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times
"The Last Airbender is dreadful, an incomprehensible fantasy-action epic that makes the 2007 film The Golden Compass, a similarly botched adaptation of a beloved property from another medium, look like a four-star classic...it’s a tossup as to which is worse: the script, which regularly grinds to a halt to Explain Everything until the movie curls up and dies; the shockingly dingy camerawork; or the execrable 3-D. The latter comes in two modes: barely noticeable, as if the technicians set the knob at 1.3 and went out for lunch, or actively irritating. Really, I’ve got winking-Jesus postcards that look better."
—Ty Burr, Boston Globe
"This colossal folly, the fiasco of the summer of 2010 — gives us all a ringside seat at the sight of Mr. 'I See Dead People's' career gurgling down the drain."
—Roger Moore, Orlando Sentinel
"A joyless, soulless, muddled mess... It's bad enough that this is one of those glossy CGI monstrosities, utterly divorced from anything resembling reality; transferred needlessly to 3-D, it's just plain ugly."
—Christy Lemire, Canadian Press
"The Last Airbender isn’t that much different from the rest of this summer’s generally dire multiplex fare—from The A-Team to Jonah Hex—which started with established properties and half-decent ideas, then cranked up the volume, velocity, and effects to the point where neither sense nor tender moments could escape. But it is remarkable in one respect: It’s the worst of them."
—Scott Tobias, The A.V. Club
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- How a degree from Duke University dashed my dreams of buying a home
- Half the world's population lives in these 6 countries
- This is why you can't trust the NSA. Ever.
- What would a U.S.-Russia war look like?
- Why you should stop believing in evolution
- Innocent before proven guilty? The bizarre bipartisan rush to clear Rick Perry
- What Keeping Up with the Kardashians can teach America about interracial marriage
- The real-life events that inspired Game of Thrones' Red Wedding
- This 1,600-year-old Viking war game is still awesome
- It's time for the police to rethink 'shoot-to-kill'
Subscribe to the Week