I’m usually one of the first people to find ways to defend M. Night Shyamalan’s films, since I have unapologetically been a fan of his ever since The Sixth Sense hit it big over a decade ago.
However, even I can’t really think of a defense for this film, which will probably end up ranking as my least favourite of the director’s films.
The primary reason for this is that the film has absolutely atrocious dialogue throughout. I don’t know if this was because of Shyamalan’s writing or because the source material or child actors weren’t up to par (it’s probably both). The film was jammed packed with over-simplified concepts and mystical mumbo jumbo that the film was painful to watch during dialogue scenes (which was the bulk of the film). In fact, I think the only character in the film to receive a decent characterization was for Dev Patel as the villainous Prince Zuko.
The film is redeemed somewhat towards the end with a somewhat decent final battle sequence. In fact, it was also the only sequence within the film that made decent use of 3D. The 3D effects were so non-existent through most of the film, I somewhat wish that I saw the 2D version instead.
The film is obviously meant to be the first part of a trilogy (and it even features a cliffhanger in the ending). That’s a bit of gamble, since there is no guarantee that the trilogy will be completed.
In conclusion, I might have reacted more favourably to the film if it wasn’t for the cringe-worthy dialogue in the film. However, as it stands, I’ve seen the film once and I am unlikely to do so again.