Cleolinda Jones (cleolinda) wrote,
Cleolinda Jones

So I saw The Last Airbender

Sweet baby Jesus, that was a terrible movie.

We went to see it because my mother loves natural-disaster-type effects. Like, 2012 was basically her catnip. So she sees commercials with all this water and fire flying around and she is like, YES. THIS IS THE MOVIE FOR ME.

And then she heard it got abysmal reviews, so she had me go see Eclipse with her last weekend instead.

(She does not like New Moon "because Edward goes away for half the movie and I don't like the wolf guy much." Eclipse was far more relevant to her interests. Speaking of which, I'll tell you this much: when the first movie came out, she saw what Robert Pattinson looks like in real life, you know, on the street or at premieres or whatever--this was during his major Hobo Defense Camouflage phase--and was appalled: "He looks like JOHNNY DEPP." This is her idea of an insult, people. "JOHNNY DEPP doesn't BATHE. And THAT is what he LOOKS LIKE." "But... you love Captain Jack Sparrow. Like... so much that it kinda weirds me out sometimes." "Oh, well... Jack is different. I DON'T LIKE THAT IN REAL LIFE." But once she found out that he really played the piano in the movie, well--all was forgiven.)

Also, she likes Jasper (you see where I'm going with this), now that he's gotten to do something in the movies other than look constipated. So naturally, after she saw Eclipse last weekend, she was pleased to hear that "Jasper" would be in this one as well. So I'm sitting there, checking my watch every ten minutes while time starts moving backward, the movie is so awful, but I'm thinking, At least she's getting plenty of Jackson Rathbone. So then we walk out of the theater, and she says, "Where was Jasper? I kept waiting for him to show up."

"Mom... that was... he was... the... the guy! You know! The white guy!"

"Which one?"

"You know, the--the one! The brother! With the ponytail! The one who was in love with the princess and didn't want her to be a fish! With the boomerang whatever! YOU KNOW! THE GUY WHO WAS THERE THE WHOLE TIME!"

"THAT WAS HIM? ... He was terrible."

Here's the thing. You go see this movie--I want to see the show, but I haven't yet, so I'm not judging this on how like or not-like the show it was. Forget the show for a moment. (Except for the fact, as I have been told, that Shyamalan insisted on changing the pronunciation of all the names.) The movie, by itself: you watch this godforsaken thing and you can see a good movie inside it. The costumes are great, the sets are fantastic, the music is James Newton Howard and I really like a lot of his stuff, the cinematography was ANDREW FUCKING LORD OF THE RINGS LESNIE. SERIOUSLY NOW.

(Me: "Oh my God, that was horrible." My mother: "Okay, I didn't think it was horrible." Me: "You didn't think it was bad?" My mother: "Look, I didn't say it wasn't bad. I just said it wasn't horrible.")

The problem is M. Night Shyamalan. I have to believe this, because I can't explain it any other way. He's the screenwriter and he's the director, and the problem with the movie was that the writing was terrible and the acting was worse. Everything else--I say this without knowing anything about the fidelity of the adaptation--was just fine. And when you see an actor who you have seen act well on other occasions suddenly reading his lines like he doesn't actually speak English and had them written out phonetically, you have to think that the actors are not the root cause. No, what you have here is The George Lucas Problem, wherein the director, for some wackadoo reason, thinks that a certain wooden style of acting (or "acting") is better suited to his fantasy epic (and yes, Star Wars is fantasy. Ain't no science in that fiction) (well, unless you count the midichlorians, and I thought we all wanted to forget that ever happened), and so suddenly, no one understands punctuation anymore. People stop in the middle of sentences, pick up again, and answer each other like maybe their line has something to do with the one before it; they're just taking it on faith that they're about to say something that has anything to do with the topic at hand. And I have SEEN Shyamalan suck the life out of Mark Wahlberg in The Happening. He is telling his actors to perform this way and I do not understand why.

And the writing, dear God. The movie would have been automatically 50% better if we hadn't had the Captain Obvious Katara voiceover. I don't NEED to be told that Sokka and the princess became friends really quickly, because number one, that is astoundingly lazy filmmaking. People always talk about the whole "show, don't tell" thing, but I don't know that I've actually seen a movie before that literally told you instead of showing you. This is what they came up with montages for. You're a filmmaker, Shyamalan, make some film. But number two, you have shown them giving each other the glad eye, and you show Sokka being all like ME I WILL GUARD HER I AM TOTALLY ON THAT ME ME ME. I can do the math, and I'm pretty sure the kids in the audience can too.

OH! OH! You know what killed me the worst? ...okay, actually, no, this didn't kill me the worst; the air lizard whatever being like, "Ahhhng, use the power of your emotions, let go of all your guilt and anger, and HOLY SHIT, USE THE POWER OF THE OCEAN, YOU'RE GODDAMN WATERBENDERS, WHAT THE FUCK" killed me the worst. The thing that killed me the second worst was when Zuko's all like, "Hey, kid, come and tell my uncle why the prince, who is totally not me, can't just live among the people and give up on this Ahhhvatar thing." And you're sitting there thinking the kid will say, "Because the prince is a dick and we hate him! We would totally kill him on sight!" But instead, the kid and Zuko do this tag-team flashback thing where they explain to the uncle how Zuko got his scar and got booted from Fire Nation society. A flashback in which the uncle has multiple reaction shots. Which indicates, if I am not being clear enough here, that THE UNCLE WAS THERE. WHY THE FUCK DID YOU JUST ENLIST SOME RANDOM KID TO TELL HIM SOMETHING HE ALREADY KNOWS BECAUSE HE WAS THERE? I just. What. The answer, of course, is "So the audience will know." And I understand that sometimes, you just have to make that trip to the Department of Back Story. But that was a ludicrous way to do it.

So imagine a whole movie full of that, and that is what we are talking about.

(Also, we are talking about lines like, "Do you have a spiritual place? Where I can meditate?" "Yes! We have a VERY spiritual place!" Yes! Right here! The Vaguely Redundant Temple of Vague Redundancy! It's spiritually spiritual!)

(It may or may not be magically delicious.)

And I don't know how the bending works in the show, but apparently you gotta bust out five minutes of tai chi before you can so much as splash someone. Really complicated elemental blasts may involve voguing. Really? Is this how it works? I just. Wow.


"Okay, Mom, give the people a verdict. Two sentences: what did you think?"

"I loved the costumes and the big water. The acting was poor at best."


ETA: A clip from the movie that I think you need to see. Because you will understand everything once you do. Bad acting, bad writing, earthbender dance squad. And yes, watch it all the way through.

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Tags: conversations with my mother, movie discussion, movies, my mother

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