Review: The Last Airbender

The title character of M. Night Shyamalan's junior mystical martial-arts fantasy The Last Airbender is a young boy named Aang (Noah Ringer) with big, bright eyes, a monk's shaved head, and an intricate array of symmetrical tattoos that culminate in an arrow pointing right down his forehead (it's sort of the equivalent of a third eye). He also has the ability to bend air - that is, to whoosh and shove chunks of the atmosphere around him so that the air literally gets turned into a weapon. Aang, we're told, is the only person on earth who still possesses this ancient talent (though a number of others know how to bend water, fire, and clods of dirt). On an earth engulfed by tribal warfare, the gift of air-bending has made Aang the Avatar, the only one who can save mankind. He's a leaping, flying, butt-kicking prepubescent Christ figure in Zen robes. To accomplish his air-bending, Aang assumes a series of highly balletic tai chi poses, twirling and bowing his body, curling his hands around like a boy dancer. The movie should have been called Crouching Billy Elliott, Hidden Air Pocket.

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