Last Airbender, The

Featured In Issue 152, December 2010

WSR Score2
Basic Information on new release titles is posted as soon as titles are announced. Once reviewed, additional data is added to the database.
Paramount Home Entertainment
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Fantansy action violence
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Single Side, Dual Layer (BD-50)
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Not Indicated
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M. Night Shyamalan
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Dolby Digital 5.1, DTS HD Lossless 5.1
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Based on the Nickelodeon animated TV series "Avatar: The Last Airbender," the "The Last Airbender" tells the story of four nations, Air, Water, Earth, and Fire, locked in an age-old conflict that can only be ended by the Avatar named Aang (Ringer)—a boy monk with the power to manipulate all four elements. Aang, the successor to a long line of Avatars, must put his childhood ways aside and stop the Fire Nation from enslaving the Air, Water, and Earth nations. (Gary Reber)

Special features on Disc One include Bonus View annotations, a nine-part documentary "Discovering The Last Airbender" (HD 58:15); three featurettes: "Siege Of The North" (HD 18:32), "Origins Of The Avatar" (HD 07:18), "Katara For A Day" (HD 05:37); four deleted scenes (HD 11:24); and a gag reel (HD 04:29). Disc Two contains the DVD version and a digital copy of the film.

The 1080p AVC picture depicts a fantasy world in which the mythology of the series is presented in the imaginative production design of Philip Messina and the cinematography of Andrew Lesnie ("The Lord Of The Rings" trilogy), based on a sort of replication of the visuals from the Nickelodeon series. The film was presented theatrically in retrofitted 3D, with the third dimension added during post-production. The imagery is engaging enough but contrast, at times, is weak and shadow delineation suffers as a result during the dark fight scene. Foreground images are generally well defined but backgrounds are typically fuzzy—the filmmakers' style no doubt. Still, the overall impression is one of softness, yet close-ups, such as for instance the great iron ships of the Firebenders, are sharp and clear. The action scenes can be engaging at times, with the bending of effects depicting water, fire, and wind. The color palette is unexpectedly muted with drab hues. Even the depiction of fire is lame. Color is unfortunately bland throughout, with the exception of glimpses of deep reds and greens. Mostly, the scenes are dark and require excellent native contrast ratio performance in a display device coupled to a darkened viewing environment, to fully appreciate the elaborate set pieces. The special visual effects can be quite exciting to experience. And the visual scope also can seem epic in scope. Overall, this is an uneven visual experience, at times, visually engaging with compelling imagery, but generally extremely dark and unemotional. (Gary Reber)

The DTS-HD Master Audio™ 5.1-channel soundtrack is dynamic sounding, with an epic music score by James Newton Howard that is the element that communicates best an emotional feeling. The recording is nicely spacious, with a wide and deep soundstage and extension deep into the surrounds. Dialogue, on the other hand, is wanting in intelligibility, often sounding muffled, chesty, and forward without engaging spatial integration. Sound effects are dynamically portrayed with deep and powerful .1 LFE bass extension to sub-25 Hz frequencies. Surround envelopment is aggressively delivered with panned sound effects and varying layers of density to enhance dimension. This is a quite active soundtrack, with at times, intense SPL energy distributed to every channel. Overall, fidelity sounds a bit muffled and veiled but full and balanced in character and dimension. (Gary Reber)