A world populated by four tribes who can manipulated the elements of fire, water, earth and air can only regain balance upon the return of The Avatar, but the ambitious ruler of the Fire Nation is interested only in conquest.
M. Night Shyamalan clearly wished to create a epic fantasy world in the vein of Lord Of the Rings by pillaging Eastern religions and philosophy. Unfortunately the mythology he created is muddled and inconsistent and despite some impressive visual spectacle the whole film falls flat on its face. The kid’s TV standard cast are completely lacking in the kind of presence or charisma needed to pull off this kind of thing and some painful exposition and very clunky dialogue make it very difficult to care about any of it. Shyamalan’s grasp of directing action misses the mark badly; watching children perform Tai Chi in slow motion as hordes of extras fling themselves around does not exactly make for a roller coaster ride of thrills and excitement. The costumes and effects are nice but with the sole exception of the visuals, everything about this film seems deeply amateurish to the point where it looks like a very expensive school play.
Plus anyone brought up in Britain in the 1980’s is going to have a very hard time taking a film that constantly references the characters’ experiences at the hands of “the benders” seriously!