The Review at a Glance: (max score: 5 )
Audio/Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )
Studio and Year: Paramount - 2010
MPAA Rating: PG
Feature running time: 103 minutes
Disc Format: BD-50
Encoding: AVC (MPEG-4)
Video Aspect: 2.35:1
Audio Format(s): English DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio, French/Spanish,/Brazilian Portuguese Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles: English, English SDH, French, Spanish, Brazilian Portuguese
Starring: Noah Ringer, Dev Patel, Nicola Peltz, Jackson Rathbone, Shaun Toub
Written & Directed by: M. Night Shyamalan
Music by: James Newton Howard
Region Code: A,B,C
Blu-ray Disc release Date: November 16, 2010
"Four nations, one destiny"
Experience the thrilling live-action adventure based on the hit Nickelodeon series Avatar: The Last Airbender. Join Aang, an extraordinary boy with incredible bending powers, as he journeys through an exotic land filled with magical creatures and powerful friends. As the Avatar, he is the only one who can end the age-old conflict between the four nations, Air, Water, Earth and Fire. An inspirational journey, The Last Airbender is exciting entertainment for the entire family!
Based on the first season of the animated television series Avatar: The Last Airbender. The Last Airbender is an action adventure film that centers around Aang, a twelve year old boy who is the long lost Avatar - a spiritual figure that holds the world in balance through every incarnation. His mysterious disappearance 100 years ago allowed the Fire Nation to declare war on the other nations (the Air Nomads, the Water Tribes and the Earth Kingdom) in their attempt to conquer the world. Aang is a reluctant hero with reservations about his role as the Avatar. After being discovered encased in ice by Katara and Sokka who befriend him, the trio set out on a journey to reunite the tribes and thwart the impending dominion of the Fire Nation who will stop at nothing to prevent Aang from fulfilling his destiny.
I knew nothing about The Last Airbender before seeing the trailer for this film the first time. I thought the teaser looked interesting but didn't offer enough for serious consideration. I don't recall seeing it playing at the local theater or hearing any feedback one way or the other until I received it for review and my son told me he heard it wasn't very good. After watching it I would have to say that his information was accurate. From what I have read the TV series, which is well received, was influenced by Asian art, mythology and various martial arts fighting styles. I think the film conveys that pretty well but otherwise there is little plot/character development which would have help derive a better connection to the source material. Seeing as this is the first in a planned trilogy I couldn't understand the lack of deeper thematic emphasis. Based on the dialogue, the shallow nature of the script, and surface level characters I couldn't escape the feeling that the film is geared toward young audiences. The level of action is fair (although repetitive) and the special effects prove engaging but the poor attempts at drama/romance only serve to muddy the water. With the exception of Dev Patel I found the young cast members to be mediocre at best. I realize that the campy dialogue didn't help but I found the wooden/lifeless performances by Noah Ringer (in the title role), Nicola Peltz, and Jackson Rathbone to be a distraction. The ending is clearly set up for a sequel although I would hope that Paramount will rethink things and start with a new director and better script. M. Night Shyalaman has struggled to reclaim the success of his early works and unfortunately The Last Airbender serves as another failed attempt. I don't think the film is a total loss as it might appeal to young viewers especially if they only have a cursory knowledge of the source material. Those looking for an engaging film experience should look elsewhere.
The rating is for fantasy action violence.
AUDIO/VIDEO - By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100 / EXCELLENT = 83-91 / GOOD = 74-82 / AVERAGE = 65-73 / BELOW AVERAGE = under 65
**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Low frequency extension:
- Surround Sound presentation:
- Dialogue Reproduction:
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Black level/Shadow detail:
- Color reproduction:
The Last Airbender comes to Blu-ray Disc from Paramount featuring 1080p AVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 24 Mbps and lossless DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio sound that has an average bitrate of 4.2 Mbps.
This is a great looking high definition video presentation that boasts vivid primary colors and strong depth and dimension. Images are sharp, delineated and revealing of subtle textural detail that enhances the perception of minutia within clothing, physical features and objects onscreen. Blacks are rich with deep highlights that when coupled with the boldly applied contrast provides plenty of pop to both light and dark sequences. Detail in shadowy backgrounds and uneven lighting is excellent which enhances depth of field during low level sequences. Fidelity never wavers in this pristinely rendered high def encoding from Paramount.
I thoroughly enjoyed this very involving DTS-HD Master Audio surround mix that delivers an enriching home theater experience. Integration of the front and rear soundstages is seamless as discretely placed sounds follow a deliberate and realistic path as dictated by the events onscreen. This is an active sound design that incorporates a vast number of sound effects that are intricately mixed to engage the listening position. Bass is robust and can sometimes be substantive in depth but never rises inappropriately in prominence within the soundfield. The delicate blend of James Newton Howard's music, discrete/spatial ambience, crystalline dialogue and invigorating dynamics is supremely enriching as it weaves an aurally stimulating pattern across the surround platform. I wasn't impressed with the film itself but there is no question that it looks and sounds great on Blu-ray.
- (HD) Discovering The Last Bender (9 featurettes totaling 58 minutes):
- (HD) Siege of the North - 18 minute featurette
- (HD) Origins of the Avatar - 7 minute featurette
- (HD) Katara for a day - 5 minute feature
- (HD) 4 deleted scenes
- (HD) Gag reel - 4 minutes
- (HD) Avatar Annotations - PiP feature that includes brief interview clips and behind the scenes footage from select scenes during the film
- Bonus DVD of The Last Airbender (which includes a Digital Copy for those who want to take it on the go)
Based on the first season of the popular animated television series Avatar: The Last Airbender, The Last Airbender is an action/adventure film with good potential that goes unrealized thanks to a poorly conceived script, uninspired direction, and mediocre cast performances. Its debut on Blu-ray Disc from Paramount Home Entertainment boasts terrific audio/video quality and a solid set of supplemental features that include a bonus DVD and Digital Copy. While I can't recommend this as a blind purchase it might be a worthwhile rental if you have young viewers who find the source material interesting.
AVS Forum Blu-ray Reviews
Reference Review System:
JVC DLA-RS20 1080p High Definition Front Projector (Calibrated by Jeff Meier)
Stewart Filmscreen - Studiotek 130 G3 100 16x9 Screen
Anthem AVM50v THX Ultra 2 Preamp/Video Processor
Sherbourn Technologies - 7/200 Seven Channel Amplifier
Oppo BDP-83 Universal disc/Blu-ray Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
Samsung BD-C7900 Blu-ray Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
Toshiba HD-XA2 HD DVD Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
Sony Playstation 3 Blu-ray disc Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
Philips TSU9400 Pro Series Touch Panel Remote Control
Canton "Ergo" Series speakers
Axiom Audio QS8 Quadpolar speakers
SV Sound PB-13 Ultra (Rosenut finish)
APC AV S15BLK Power Conditioner/Surge Protector
Furman SPR-20i Stable Power Regulator
Wireworld, VizionWare, Audioquest, Better Cables, Best Deal Cables - Audio/Video/Speaker Cabling
Cool Components - CP-CP102 cooling package