'The Sixth Sense', 'Signs' and 'The Village' - all great films with unexpected twists, shrouded in debate and controversy. The first even gave us the famous (if now a little comedic) one liner: "I see dead people." Taking this into consideration, it's hard to believe that 'The Last Airbender' - an overrated fumble in fantasyland - was written, produced and directed by a man who has as much of an ability to make people scream and gasp as a rare sighting of Boy George out and about without his slap. This film had the potential to be a blockbuster; however with a great script and a generous budget behind M. Night Shyamalan, he somehow fails where he so easily could have succeeded.

Southern Water Tribe members Katara (Peltz) and Sokka (Rathbone) come across a young child frozen in ice while Katara is practicing her 'water bending' (yes, that's really what it's called). Instantly they know there is something different about this bald headed youth. Aang (Ringer) is the last remaining 'air bender' alive and an incarnation of the Avatar - the only one capable of mastering all of the four elements (water, earth, air and fire) in order to preserve world peace.

However, Aang has been frozen for over a hundred years, and in his absence the Fire Nation has seized everyone with the ability to 'bend' and holds them captive. Now Aang must quickly acquire all four elements before the Fire Nation succeeds in its quest for world domination.

Based on the cartoon of the same name, 'The Last Airbender' has an engaging script that could rival the greatest of fantasy adventures out there. Sadly, and a little frustratingly, the acting lets this film down so much that it becomes more like a Disney channel kids' show rather than the epic flight of imagination it intended to be.

You could be forgiven for thinking that the main child actors were picked from the set of 'Barney'; only their stilted acting abilities would probably leave the purple dinosaur's kids looking like superstars. For such a prominent lead, maybe an actor reminiscent of Haley Joel Osment in his 'Sixth Sense' days would have been more appropriate and more effective in getting the emotions of the Avatar across. Instead we are left with Ringer, who mumbles his way through the simplest of dialogue. The only actor who can hold his head up after his performance is 'Slumdog Millionaire's' Dev Patel (Prince Zuko), an incredible performer who saves a little bit of Shyamalan's dignity.

Yet again the 3D effects that have been added in post-production leave you with nothing but a sore nose and another pair of those 'Harry Potter' glasses in your drawer at home. In fact, you would hardly realise that the film was in 3D had you not been wearing the glasses.

Having never seen the cartoon, the storyline was all new to me and somehow the concept drowns out the atrocious acting. Hopefully (for his sake), with the addition of a few more credible stars, Shyamalan might step up his game for the sequel.

Sarah Carty

Listen to the 'Framerate' review of 'The Last Airbender' from RTÉ Choice.