Last weekend, I decided to treat myself to a movie and went to see the brand new film "The Last Airbender" (TLA). I honestly enjoyed it thoroughly and thought it was well done.
Well, a couple of days later, I went on rottentomatoes(dot)com which is a site that collects reviews from film critics all over the country as well as reviews from regular viewers. It compiles all of the reactions from the film and assigns a numerical grade (0% to 100%) based on all of the responses. Each film's page also offers quotes from and links to all major reviews of the films.
I was expecting TLA to fair pretty reasonably, but to my astonishment, it has achieved a consistent grade of 8%. This number is HORRENDOUS by rottentomatoes' and anyone's standards. I immediately read several of the reviews to find an explanation. Well, there seems to be a collective lynch mob mentality against the film's director M. Night Shyamalan. Many of the reviews seem like a personal attack on him rather than against the actual film. The interesting thing about all of the reviews is that each one finds a different thing to bash about this film. In one case, it's the acting. In another it's the writing, and yet, in another it's the overall film itself. The critics have ripped this movie to shreds and all agree that no sequels should come of it.
In my humble opinion, I will be the first to say that this film is far from perfect, but I do not believe that it deserves the level of vitriol and downright hatred that it has elicited from reviewers.
I have some concessions I am willing to make . . .
1. I can agree that some of the acting left a bit to be desired. The casting of the actor Jackson Rathbone who played the brother to the waterbender and who has a role in the upcoming Twilight: Eclipse film probably should not have happened. He spent more time just seething and being angry than actually acting. Otherwise, I thought it was a very competent cast in this plot and action-driven film.
2. The dialogue is another element that could have been tweaked a bit, but it was probably sacrificed a good bit in favor of the timing and pacing of the film's sequence of events. I think good writing can only enhance and accentuate all of the visuals. Though the dialogue maintains the film's overall flow, a lot of depth and feeling is lost in the end. Less of everything else and more spoken insights might have been a better direction.
3. Lastly, this film is an adapted work based on an animated series from Nickelodean that lasted three seasons and was wildly popular. I have never seen the original series and am not aware of the ways that the original work might have been compromised in favor of a live-action, two and 1/2 hour time constraint. The general concensus is that the original series is far superior, but as is often the case with film adaptations, major changes are made to accommodate a movie format. It's possible that much of the story's soul was lost in the translation. This is unfortunately not uncommon when it comes to adapted works.
Okay, now for the reasons why I like this film. First of all, here is the theatrical trailer:
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1. I happen to like the movies of M. Night Shyamalan that I have seen. (The Sixth Sense, The Lady In the Water, Signs, and Unbreakable are the only ones I have viewed.) Regardless, I always approach each film as a clean slate. Every director, just like every artist, deserves a fair chance with each new work. Shyamalan deserves no less. With this said, I can appreciate that he has branched out into a big-budget fantasy film and into all of the risks that come with it. He often infuses elements of spirituality and mysticism in his work, and I can see why TLA may have appealed to him.
2. The story is rich with spiritual symbolism and dark themes of retribution. It is clear to me that this film was not just a special effects extravaganza. It was intended to tell a mystical story about right versus wrong and the greed that often guides the hand of power. Without being terribly overt about it, these themes ran through the film very evenly. Even though the execution may not be perfect, it's intention is still very noble. I compare this to last year's colossal load of congealed, fly-infested, runny, blotchy dog poop that was Transformers 2. The whole movie was one big explosion with no depth whatsoever. Now THAT movie sucked and was a huge disappointment for me since I am a Transformers enthusiast.
3. The visuals are STUNNING. From an aesthetic point of view, every shot is gorgeous. This film was made with a visual artist's eye. Panoramic shots of other-worldly vistas, fighting sequences delivered without interruption, and top-of-the-line special effects that justify the huge budget that I'm sure this movie came with. I marveled at the technical and visual artwork that fuel this film. The price of admission is worth this alone.
I will conclude by saying that I enjoyed this movie. It gave me all of the thrills and escapism that I look for in a fantasy adventure movie. Whatever is inspiring the mass massacre of all things M. Night Shyamalan is disturbing to me. I hope he makes the sequels for TLA and continues to make movies through his very capable and slightly unusual lens.
If one voice disagrees with the masses, does this make that one voice any less right or valid? See this movie and find out for yourself.
I, for one, will be seeing it again very soon.
So I wait with suppressed impatience for some movies to open here in the Nashville area. Today, I went with my Mom to see the new movie "The Soloist" that opens in US theaters nationwide this weekend. Here's the preview . . . [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q5GvsB3NfD0] I enjoyed this movie tremendously. In fact, I think any musician in particular would enjoy this film. My second favorite instrument happens to be the cello, and there's plenty of its gorgeous resonance to enjoy in this film. Robert Downey Jr. and Jamie Foxx both do outstanding work in it. In an artistic sense, this movie is sonically and visually beautiful, but I have to say that I was a little confused as to its intent. It seemed as if it was torn between being social commentary for homelessness, being a character study of a brilliant musician, or being a film about friendship. What I often find when there's too much being said is that very little winds up being understood. Perhaps if a more distinct and singular intent was pursued, this would have been a more solid film, but since this film is based on true life, perhaps the truth was just as conflicted and complicated to begin with. In any case, this film is worth seeing just for the pure artfulness of it all. The music, cinematography, and acting are truly first-rate. Now, I'd like to show previews of movies I hope to see in the near future. First off, I admit to really really really wanting to see what will probably be this summer's biggest blockbuster film: Transformers 2: Revenge of the Fallen (!!!) Ahhh Yeah!! I am a very dorky Transformer fan. It's the coolest movie franchise EVER!!!! Here's the newest preview that was just released: [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dmgbbGJW6ZE] I can't wait!!!! I have a lovely little collection of Transformer toys that I have yet to brag/blog about. This is coming soon. Needless to say, I am itching for a little bit of revenge. Finally, this last film that I want to mention is currently enjoying a limited release in select US cities. It's not here in Nashville right now, but I sure as heck hope it gets here. It's rottentomatoe rating is currently at 87% percent and rising. This is unusually high for any film, let alone a foreign film about two little Korean girls . . . Here is the preview for a little film called "Treeless Mountain": [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u9ermzhKx54] The reviews for this one are off the charts. It paints a heartbreaking picture of child abandonment and resilience. I HAVE TO SEE THIS FILM!! These movies are on my mind. I'd like to watch more films in theaters this year, but hopefully, only the good ones. We'll see. -gordo
This movie deserves all the accolades that it got. But I still find a lot of people who have not seen this movie. Nicholas Cage depicts a Ukrainian living in USA who chooses to adopt the arm dealing business. The movie tells his story and the hidden truth behind weapons, war and horrors within. It might be an eye opener for a lot of the people who do not know what goes on behind the scenes in arms dealing and who are the player involved in the continuous cycle of violence.
Direction: ★★★★★★★★☆☆ 8/10
Cinematography: ★★★★★★★★☆☆ 8/10
Acting: ★★★★★★★★☆☆ 8/10
Storyline: ★★★★★★★★★☆ 9/10