Reviews: The Last Airbender
A fucking disgrace to the franchise
This movie is fucking horrible. Where to start? The acting was some of the worst I've ever seen. Even though the 3 lead actors were kids at the time of filming, their performance was still unforgivably atrocious. The fact that they were casted to begin with is almost laughable, as the majority of the characters in the show were some type of Asian. But the actors for this "film"? Most of them are either white or Indian. No Asians here! Much of the cast have been whitewashed. It was completely devoid of any of the humor the animated show that it was based off of contained, once again proving that making something Darker and Edgier does NOT always improve the quality of a work. Also, the fights in this movie were just terrible. The only fight that was anywhere near good was the one where Aang and Zuko fight...without using any of their bending. One has to wonder how a movie with a production budget of $150 million can have some of the worst CGI and special effects ever put to film. Some of the scenes weren't even lit properly, like that one scene where Aang is practicing water bending while Sokka and Katara are sleeping. And then there's the pronunciation of the names. It's Aang, not "Ungh", and it's Sock-ah, not "So-kah". Jesus fucking Christ. And to top it all off, when a news network in the UK interviews M.Night Shayamalan, the person responsible for this large-budget fuck-up, what does he have to say in response to critics panning this movie? He says that American audiences just don't get the "European sensibility" and cultural references of his films. I don't see what Europe has to do with a film based on an American cartoon that's based on Asian culture. This film gets a negative 5!
A childhood love gone wrong 2 out of 5 stars (nostalgia=bias)
When I was a child I loved the cartoon, so when I heard they were making a movie of it I was estatic. When I went out and bought the DVD I thought it was an ok movie and hoped they made a sequel. I think now it is a good time to note that I had not and still not seen a lot of movies and my experience with it was getting up at 6 am every morning and watching the battle sequence in ATTACK OF THE CLONES on repeat. A few days ago I happened apon it and decided to watch it, my mistake. The acting was horrible, the characters not very faithful, and the director M . Night Shayamalan playing the bad guy. I was rocked to my core. I went online and looked up reviews and they all recognized it as it was and how I saw it now. The above score really says it all but I still find myself not giving it a one or a zero becuase I loved it so. There you have it all persons flaw, for after all is said and done a person can never reveal the truth, emotions override all things an unbiased answer can never be said. And for this I apologize.
It's a bad movie
"The Last Airbender" is not good movie. It's not even an "okay" movie. It's just bad. Really bad. I'm not talking about the fact that it's a bad adaption or about the whole racism debate; when I say that this movie sucks, I mean that it sucks as a movie. Why? Well, let me explain: The cast is a bunch of morons. There's a girl going all Leeroy Jenkins on what looks like a giant radioactive gas bubble, earthbenders that can't recall what earth looks like, waterbenders that are unable to extinguish some small flames, and a little monk that runs away from home because he'll never have a family. Monks can't have a family? No shit?! Of course, I could forgive this movie if it had good fighting sequences. I love movies like Commando, 300 or Ninja Assassin even though their plot sucks simply because they have really good fighting scenes. This movie, not so much. The slow-motion and the elaborate, embarassing choreography makes all the fights look like 300 on estrogens at best, and at worst, they don't even happen. Talk about anticlimax. There's even a scene where Aang summons a giant wave to crush the firebenders's warships, only to... not crush them. Rather, he shows us this fucking killer wave for what feels like hours, before simply making it vanish. What the hell?! And this two points aren't nearly the only things that are wrong about this movie. The effects are boring, the story sucks, the movie conveys no message, it has no emotional impact, it doesn't even have hammy lines to make up for it. The movie is a heartless waste of time, it has neither a soul nor entertaining value, it's as if the director intended to show us how a movie can suck without suffering severe budget issues. If that was his intention, he fucking succeeded. Congratulations!
An Analogy to Explain My Disappointment
The ending of this film ruined any hope it could have had. We have Aang drawing up the giant wave and...holding it there. The Fire Nation ships back away, the wave drops, and Aang collapses. One must wonder why the ships did not simply come back. I instantly thought: What if Luke Skywalker hadn't blown up the Death Star, but just radioed them and said "hey, I'm sitting right where I can destroy this whole station, but I don't want to kill anyone, so if you promise to disarm your planet-wrecking gun, I'll back off." Now, a competent villain like Tarkin or Vader would casually agree to his demands, wait for him to come out, and then kill him and let the station do as its WMD thing. Similarly, a competent Fire Nation commander would have checked, especially since they're now missing not only their admiral but also the Fire Lord's brother and should try and figure out what happened to them at least, and seen if maybe whoever raised the freaking huge wave exhausted themselves by holding a tidal wave still for a couple minutes, and if so, move back in. Even when the waterbenders could bend they weren't doing that good. Essentially, Aang not being decisive and just scattering the fleet like the show is equivalent to Luke Skywalker not destroying the Death Star: The fleet still exists, still has all its weapons and any men who were still on the ships, and likely will be pushing for stronger attacks on the Northern tribe in the future. Aang only accomplished a delay of the inevitable instead of a massive show that things have changed and the tide is turning. For that alone, ignoring all the other issues (I couldn't even see Zuko's scar and spent half the movie thinking it was on the wrong side, the craptastic bending, etc) this scene ruined it above all else.
Not that bad.
I honestly say it wasn't that bad because from the moment I heard about it, I knew it was going to be terrible. And it was, hence why I say it's "not that bad", it didn't disappoint my expectations for it. I remember the first thing people got upset over was when the liberal PC police created rivers of tears about how Aang was being played by a White kid who can't act instead of an Asian kid who can't act. If they knew how the actors were selected, they'd know the director, who I'll keep nameless, wasn't looking for someone with experience or any care to actually teach the actors to act. Instead decided to see what Greenland looked like (where the water tribe was filmed). It's hard to take this film seriously, and what's supposed to be serious only makes it end up being funny. Such as the "pebble dance" or the very hilarious war cry shouted out by the water general (is it supposed to be Paku? I don't remember them saying his name). And let's not forget the penis hair. And that LETHAL rock that "really hurt" that poor fire soldier! One last hilarity, watch anyone reading this, watch the deleted scene where they're in this village and they just break out into dancing, oh my god, that was hilarious. For more hilarity just mentally image the actual characters in that scene. I was laughing for about 20 minutes. So yeah, the movie sucks. The pacing was too quick, too much exposition throughout the whole movie, no Omashu, Zhao wasn't portrayed appropriately (arguably none of them were but I felt Zhao had it worst). The only good actor in this movie was Iroh. A thin, non tea loving, impersonating Iroh. I'm surprised it's been 3 years since this film was released. Time flies, huh?
Come, let us reason together.
The Last Airbender is not a perfect movie by any means. The dialogue and writing are narmy, which negatively affects the acting as well, and the movie is nowhere near as lighthearted and fun as its source material. And it's plenty tough to understand what's going on unless you've seen the show. However, I didn't go into this expecting a lighthearted movie. I went in expecting something Shyamalan-y - dark, but not extremely so, and beautifully visualized. I got what I wanted and more in that case, because the movie is absolutely loaded with amazing live-action replications of the original series' unique world, not to mention dark and violent at exactly the right times. To be honest, I think the negativity comes from two things - one, it's not very faithful to the original series, and two, it's made by M Night Shyamalan, which seems to give most people sufficient excuse to bash a film. I myself like Shyamalan's work, especially Signs, The Happening, and Unbreakable (though oddly, not The Sixth Sense.) This movie is no exception. It's not as good as the other films I mentioned, but given Willing Suspension Of Disbelief (which I seem to be better at than most people), it's still pretty enjoyable. Also, the constant complaining about the so-called "Race-bending" and the changing of characters' name pronunciations really seems like so much excessive nitpicking as far as I'm concerned. As long as the actor can do the role justice, their ethnicity shouldn't be any problem (look at Denzel Washington in Branagh's Much Ado About Nothing for proof.) Complain about the actor's skill, not their race, please. For example, if you wanna gripe that Sokka is depicted poorly in this film, say that it's because he's played by a bad actor (which he is, sadly), not because they picked a white guy to play him. Oh, and one last thing. The final scene with Azula. If they ever get to make the other two live-action films, I would love to see Azula just as calm and soft-spoken as she was depicted in that one scene, because if they also include her big Villainous Breakdown at the end, it would be that much more shocking. All in all, a reasonably average, but severely underrated, film.
It was, in fact, good
The fact is, I liked it. Yes, I wish there was more stuff done right and a lot more detail, like the romance between Sokka and Yumi, the Southern Air Temple, and so on, but I enjoyed it. The beginning was annoying and not good. However I felt it ended strong. So many people expect an exact clone of the series (if it's exactly the same in every respect, except being live action, then no, it wouldn't have been worth seeing) too bad for such unimaginative people it was different. There were surprises, characters had apparently different interpretations leading to them being different characters. So if you don't like change, don't bother going to see it. Yes, if they change it too much it won't be what it's based on. This is a judgemont call that should be left to every individual. However, if you like being surprised and things change, go for it. Yes many things were changed. I liked it, while the Earth Bending scene was rediculous, compressing so many scenes into a length of time children could sit through (need I remind people of Avatar's original intended audience?) was done incredibly well. Zhuko and Azula were aged (which is good, in my humble opinion). Not to mention some of the scene from the serious I didn't like were a bit glossed over (the 'We're your family now' from the sourthern air temple, it's still there, but impressively and thankfully put in the background). At first I also had issues with the race thing. However I was impressed, Sokka especially. The actor was perfect for the role. I also love how everyone keeps trying to make an issue with the race thing. It wasn't a problem in the least. Also, Azula, very creepy, very good. Ultimately, considering it's, how many episodes? Compressed into a single movie it's good. Even not considering that, it's good, at least decent. Some bits were rediculous, but over all I enjoyed the move. I'm also happy with the changes.
So much awesome, yet so much fail
First of all, I will say that there was alot that was done right for this movie. The special effects were good, (though the time-delay bending was weird), I thought the change in firebending was rational, and I thought that the way Shyamalan decided to cut the movie down (what scenes to keep and how) was fairly effective for an adaptation. Unfortunately for the movie, while they did some things very well, they also did some things EXTREMELY BADLY.
- First off, the dialogue. 90% of the lines were NARMTASTIC and some hilariouslu out of character. One of the scenes that I thought could have been really awesome, (the scene with the Earth Kingdom guy turning in Aang to the Fire Nation), was completely ruined by the lines that he used to describe his motivations.
- I feel bad that the actors are being told that their acting was terrible, because I truly believe that NO ONE could have delivered those lines and made them sound any better. Especially Noah Ringer, who I thought did an excellent job at acting and even made some Narmy lines almost acceptable.
- Secondly, the name changes. I cannot imagine what possessed Shyamalan to change the pronunciation of the names. I realize that he was trying to be "culturally accurate" but, 1) the cultures in Avatar are LOOSELY BASED off of real life cultures; they are not actually, historically representing those cultures, and 2) Who's going to be more upset: the few linguists and/or people of that culture possibly in the audience (Wow, they're pronouncing the names of characters in a FANTASY world incorrectly; this movie sucks) or the HUGE, CRAZY FANBASE GUARANTEED TO BE IN THE AUDIENCE. (Wow, this movie sucks because they EFFING SCREWED UP THE NAMES!)
This is what happens when you take one of the greatest achievements in Western Animation...
And turn it into a 90-minute eclectic insult toward women, Asians, "martial arts films", and Avatar: The Last Airbender. My suspicions that this movie would gargle gonads were first tweaked when M. Night Shyamalan promised to "not have so many fart jokes like in the show" in the Last Airbender. Somehow, a man who was apparently a "huge" fan of the show, which was critically acclaimed by the likes of EBERT for its intelligent writing and great characterization, thought that there were rampant fart jokes in the series. Y'know what, go and watch the entire series, right now, from start to finish. Whether it would be on your own box set, another person's box set, downloaded, or even on Nickelodean's endless reruns. I guarantee that you'll count a grand total of, like, FOUR fart jokes in the entire run of the show. So here we have this supposed "huge fan" of the series equating the series' rather intelligent and witty humor(which revolved more around in-jokes, slapstick, and next to NO "gutter humor") to the humor one would find in a "typical cartoon", which the series went out of its way to separate itself from the normal slew of Spongebobs, Flapjacks, and Chowders. And then there was his supposed "vision" of bending. Somehow, he watched the show and thought that the way bending operated, as opposed to having the appearance of a natural extension of the user's body(much like a sword or some other martial arm), with the bender "building up chi like an air cannon" through the movement of their body and then unleashing their bending in a single blast. This "building of chi" is accomplished through idiotically superfluous movements that would make the swordsman from Raiders of the Lost Ark(you know the one) look like a no-nonsense, professional warrior. And then we have the characters. Sokka goes from the charming, yet still competent, comedy relief to an intense, serious warrior who "starts a rebellion" amongst conquered villages. Aang goes from his happy-go-lucky, endearing self to a sullen little piss-ant named Ong, who is now a goddamn Christ archetype complete with enforced-virginity(seriously, Shyamalan WATCHED the show and got THIS out of it!?). Katara...ugh, Katara...she goes from the badass, caring motherly type of character to a character that STRONGLY screams Stay In The Kitchen...
So Okay It's Average
I saw it, and liked it. It wasn't anything special, but it was enjoyable. The fact of just who they got for Zhao was hilarious.
The people complaining about the Race Lift, however, are annoying. The Mighty Whitey thing could've been handled much better, but saying "influenced by Asia = they're Asian" is very, very stupid. Is the Avatar world Asia? No, it's the Avatar world. They could be blue (although that'd make Film/Avatar Hilarious In Hindsight). It depends on what Mike and Bryan say. After all, it's the world they created.
It's not terrible, although I agree that the acting could've been better. Quite good for compressing 10 hours into a movie. Note that he did write a faithful script... and it was 7 hours long. The sequel's apparently already being worked on, maybe it'll be better.
(...Now watch as I get comments telling me why I should've hated it and/or from people calling me racist.)
I was in a bad mood when I wrote that part. As for the 7-hour-long thing, that was based on a comment that was on the page itself. And I should've noted that I was annoyed by the Race Lift, but was mostly pissed at how people were reacting (I tend to forget to note important things, isn't there a term for that?). I wasn't saying that they shouldn't, I was saying that if the creators wanted it they didn't have to. Mistaken For Racist?
EDIT: Thanks, "220.127.116.11". I don't have the artbook, and none of the sites I read (which, by the way, is a lot of them, so I think it's just bad luck or something) said nothing about it. That certainly explains a lot.
I forgive you, and applogize Michael Bay. I was wrong.
When MB Transformers came out I really hated it. I hated him. I thought he truly bastardized the series. Racist character archetypes, mediocre dialogue, to many humans, not enough actual transformers, those were just some of my complaints. Transformers 2 was even worse on almost every other front as well. More racist, worse dialogue, really juvenile humour. The only thing was the balance of transformer Vs. human characters was much more appropriate. Regardless of that, it still cemented my hated of this man. Boy did the Last Air Bender show me how simpleminded I was being. How ignorant I was about how much worse everything could be. The last Air bender is by far the second worst film I've ever seen. Here is a point form list of a few things I've seen that is horribly wrong with it:
- Basically no bending in the entire fucking film.
- Terrible, terrible acting. Not surprising since the kid hired for the lead role in the movie has quite literally never acted before. Seriously. No b-list movies. No theater. No commercials. No training. Nothing.
- The camera work was amateurish.
- The action scenes you could literally fall asleep watching.
- So much fucking exposition. Hey asshole, centuries ago someone invented a little thing called a "flashback". Ever consider trying it?
- Horrible, horrible dialogue. We know you went to the library and learned about a fish. We heard you the first six times. We get it. STFU already.
Why I liked The Last Airbender.
Spoiler alert I actually watched the movie. I don't know maybe I'm just weird, but I enjoyed this movie. I mean sure it wasn't the dark knight, but I thought it did a good job of adapting the corny dialogue of the series into a movie format. Now a large number of reviews said the plot was disjointed, but saying that would be saying the cartoon show has a disjointed plot. The plot of the movie is the Avatar goes to the North Pole to learn Water-bending. On the way he comes across earth nation villages under control of the fire nation, just like in the show they've lost hope until one of the main characters talks some sense into them. Some people say the speech by Aang was atrocious, but it was very similar to the one in the show. See for yourself. (http://www.avatarspiritmedia.net/transcripts.php?ep=106) On the groups journey to the North Pole they’re followed by Firelord Ozai’s son, Zuko and brother, Iroh, who have the goal of capturing the Avatar to restore Zuko’s honor. Then people complain about the ending and how he didn’t kill the fire nation armada with his giant wave of doom. Well see he’s a monk and they generally don’t like killing people so… I mean at the end of the series he didn’t even kill the firelord when he had the option to. Oh and then theres how M Night Shyamalan an Indian, (India, not the slang for Native Americans.) is racist for casting the main characters as white and then everyone else as a mix of races. I’d like to say he wasn’t being racist seeing as he had the north pole as white and the south pole as tan except for the two main characters… whose grandmother was from the north pole… and therefore white… And for Aang the actor they picked looks like a perfect live action rendition of the cartoon character he portays.
Everything that could have gone wrong, did.
Ugh. That word describes my experience with the horror that is The Last Airbender. Instead of ranting why it sucked hardcore, I'll simply list why. Visuals weren't that great. While I have to admit the locations and sets were decent, the movie didn't give us time to appreciate it. The bending didn't match the actors movements at all. Writing was horrible. Pacing was horrible. Acting was horrible (with the exception of Dev and Shaun. Sadly, the ten seconds we got of Azula was my favorite actor), camera angles were horrible. The Last Airbender was not a good movie. At least the effects were decent.
So many poor decisions.
I've been pretty hard on Shyamalan since Lady In The Water and The Happening but even after those two bombs, I am baffled at how many poor decisions he made.
- I disliked the Mighty Whitey Race Lift but was willing to look past it if the actors could bring some of my favorite characters to life. Even so, putting white leads in a world that is almost entirely Asian is distracting. One has to wonder why Sokka and Katara are the only white people in their village. Are they adopted? There is no explanation and it kept me from losing myself in the world of the film. It reminded me of the fakeness of it all. Shyamalan argues that anime is based off "ambiguous" features but the fact is that the movie wasn't an anime.
- Like many other fans, I can't understand why Shyamalan decided to alter the pronunciations of the characters' names. I can't understand why Shyamalan chose to Asian-ize the names but de-Asian-ize the cast. Also, it is another thing that is just plain distracting for the fans. It's like a little pebble in your shoe that keeps you from enjoying a nice walk.
- I could put up with the Race Lift if the actors were qualified. They weren't. Aang was flat and spoke like he was reading a script (though this might be a result of Shyamalan's writing). I've seen better performances from other children. My biggest problem is Katara. Shyamalan cast her even though she couldn't do martial arts, an integral part of Katara's character.
- I have a problem with nearly all the characters but will stick to the leads. Aang lost his positive personality. Katara was a victim of Chickification whose best moments were either cut or given to Aang. Sokka lost all the fun parts of his personality. This is the fault not of the actors but of the writers. Their dialogue lacks flow and realism. The result is an angsty, joyless film. The cartoon expertly balanced light-heartedness with the more serious elements. The film shows no such balance.
- Shyamalan obviously had no idea how to direct a fantasy epic. The infamous Earthbending scene is the best example. The slow moving rock was probably a result of Shyamalan not knowing how to properly time the actions of his actors so that he could animate the rock later. He couldn't handle the special effects necessary to make this kind of movie work.
You understand why this has 5 million bad reviews when you see it.
Just...I couldn't get through the whole movie. I was laughing at the horrible shots and terrible acting, or just crying from the pain of watching the movie, and thinking of the show it killed. Let's just say that I'm glad I didn't go see it in theatres, I'm, glad I got it from my Great Grandmother for free, and I feel sorry that she lost a buck buying the bootleg. BURN IT WITH FIRE.
Poor Adaptation, but Narmtastic Acting makes it worth a Viewing!
Not much can be said about M. Night Shyamalan's "The Last Airbender" that hasn't already been said. The "pragmatic changes" were poorly done, the characterization was shallow, and it ultimately felt like an "In Name Only" adaptation. Some of the changes I found perfectly understandable such as the Firebenders needing a source to use their abilities or playing up more on Aang's pacifism. The problem however is the changes left much to be desired. Fire Benders hardly ever actually use their abilities, even when a fire source is present and the Avatar's required pacifism goes against the major conflict Aang faced in the finale of the Cartoon Series. The acting was rather hit or miss. Noah Ringer as Aang is often the source of most the movie's mocking. As opposed to the cheerful child in the show, Noah portrays Aang as a sullen and depressed, and really doesn't feel like a kid who could inspire hope in the people in the world. Nicola Peltz as Katara doesn't fair much better. Katara and Sokka both essentially play the roles as Satellite Characters, but in the case of Katara, Peltz seems completely unable to express any form of emotions, and as a result, Katara always appears with a blank stare. On the positive side, I actually did like Dev Patel as Zuko. True, most of Zuko's more defining moments were dropped from the film, but at the same time Zuko comes off as an actual conflicted character. Unlike his animated counterpart, he's more restraint and shows reluctance for the actions he must take. I'd go as far to say that Dev Patel was the best actor in the movie. As my title show, I didn't completely write off the film. I'll be the first to admit, as far as Adaptations go, the film was utter hogwash. Despite this though, the acting and fight scenes were so melodramatic I couldn't help but find the film to fall in the "So Bad It's Good" territory. It's a shame the such a great series had to be stuck with an adaptation like this, but the hilarious narm it provides reaches the level of Dragon Ball Z Evolution and The Room. To the very least, film is worth watching just because it provides a good laugh.
Shoot me down, I didn't hate it like it was Satan.
My reaction was mostly, "meh". You can't ever really expect anything to live up to the original. This wasn't a GOOD movie by any means, and it also wasn't downright abhorrent. It's just kind of a two-and a half star, just...not notable at all. It's really just like it doesn't exist, and I truly do not understand why we're wasting so much energy hating it (or as to why I'm leaving this review here? Touché, sir). It can't be exactly like the original series, because, well, there'd be no point in even adapting it into another medium. Still, of course it could've been better (everything can, but this one needs a little more help). For a second, let's take into consideration the material they were working with here. It fits into the fantasy/action genres, and we're working with real life. Obviously, fantasy's pretty hard to do here, so they at least managed to do it (barely). This could've been a more tolerable film, with the CGI already being alright enough (the eternal earthbending dance almost made me laugh though), and with a few better actors (I say a few because Noah Ringer and some others were good enough) and a different writer this could've been very enjoyable. This is another one of those frustrating movies for me. It's not bad enough for me to hate and not good enough for me to like. It's just forgettable; in one ear and out the other in a second.
A disappointing failure to live up to the potential
I'll be kind and open my review with the elements I feel this movie did right. The visuals of the movie were impressive, from the sweeping landscapes to the set design to the bending visual effects. The music, while more generic than what we heard in the show, was intense and moving. Certain characters and scenes were done well. I thought Iroh, in most cases, was easily recognizable as the wise, good-natured old aesthete from the show. The rescue by the Blue Spirit was well done, for the most part. And Azula, for all that she appears for 4 seconds, struck me as being properly bat-crazy-evil. Some of the changes the movie made were acceptable, to be put down to Pragmatic Adaptation or even (minor) Adaptation Distillation. The decision to increase the time frame of the story to 4 years will allow the romance subplot between Aang and Katara to develop at a more natural rate (and to culminate at a more natural age, something that bothered me slightly in the cartoon series). The requirement of non-Master-level Firebenders to have a source of flame didn't bother me, as it made Firebending line up more properly with the other bending disciplines. The plot compression is unavoidable, in order to present a 20-episode series in 2 hours. The above said, the movie sadly failed to live up to the sum of its parts. The dialogue was frankly disappointing (I haven't cringed this much since the Star Wars prequel romance subplots). It seemed that everything that made the main characters unique was washed away, leaving a bland patina of vague good-guy-iness. There were far too many plot holes and Fridge Logic moments that didn't even need a trip to the fridge later. Many of these have been touched upon by previous reviews - the decision to hold Earthbenders on the ground, the reluctance of said Earthbenders to rockalanche the Fire Nation soldiers into dirt, and Iroh's "I'm going to call fire and do... nothing" moment come most readily to mind. Honestly, it was hard to see what Shymalan was going for in this movie. The pace was too slow and stretched-out to be a good action film, there wasn't nearly enough humor for a comedy, and there was too little characterization for any sort of drama. In the end, the film just fell flat.
"I don't deserve their praise." No, you don't.
First of all, let me say this: Avatar The Last Airbender is one of my favorite cartoons of all time, and one of my favorite shows in general. I was quite excited about the movie. Then I actually watched it. The movie consists of five notable elements: the visuals, the effects, the writing, the actors, and the story. The general consensus is this: Visuals: Good. Effects: Passable. Writing: Terrible. Actors: Terrible. Story: Bad, but gets some slack for having to summarize ten hours into 90 minutes. While I mostly agree with one through four, I have to say they shouldn't even get the bonus points on story. After all, just look at Season One. Only a few episodes are absolutely essential to the story, and even less to the plot of the season. -The two-part pilot -The Blue Spirit -The three episode finale All Shymalan had to do was summarize these six episodes, and everything else was fair game. And don't forget episodes are 30 minutes with commercials. Without this, it's closer to 22 minutes. M Night Shymalan had to summarize two and a half hours into one and a half. Hardly a herculean task. If done correctrly, this movie would have spent 20 minutes on the pilot, then a 40 minute second act, and finally a 30 minute finale. The movie's structure is way off, and even if the acting was competent, the movie would still suck as a result. The failure of this movie lies squarely on the shoulders on the writer, M Night Shymalan. If they do make a movie of book 2 (which is far more story-driven then book one, by the way,) then a change in writer and core cast (well, I gues Dev Patel as Zuko was fine) is necessary for me to even consider spending money on it, and you should do the same.
Not as bad as I'd heard. Not as good as it could be.
Full disclosure of bias here: I followed the series that this was based on, though I didn't get into it as early as some did and I was never very involved with the fandom. So... actually, I quite enjoyed this film. It has some major flaws, which I'll talk about in a minute, but it was fun to watch and I certainly don't regret seeing it. I'm not going to talk about the unfortunate implications in the casting here - that's already been covered by people who can explain it better than I - but I agree that there is an undercurrent of racism. The biggest problem with the movie is the pacing. It is trying to cram a 20 episode tv show into 1 and a half hours and it suffers for it. A lot of important information is conveyed via narration and infodumps, which gets grating after a while. I can see why it was necessary, but it made the first half of the film feel incredibly disjointed. The second half is better. Once they reach the northern water tribe, the pace slows down to something more reasonable, and we've already been told most of the important information so the infodumps disappear. It is also the point where some of the changes made from the TV series - and people who have seen both the movie and the ending of the series know exactly what I'm talking about here - become obvious. Personally, I didn't mind the changes. Aang's difficulty with waterbending fitted the way they were portraying him, and did make sense for a twelve year old boy who had just learned he'd lost everything - though this is probably more in line with the Aang's character arc in the second series than in the first. My point is that while during the second half it became a looser adaptation, it also became a better film. This is something I see a lot with adaptations, and is related to the pacing problem I mentioned earlier. The acting is reasonable. The actors were clearly struggling with a mediocre script, and some did better than others, but Katara's actress is the only one who did badly enough to irritate me. In conclusion, it's a decent film if you can stop comparing it to the series, but would have been a lot better with a decent screenwriter and casting director.
I've always been a defender of M. Night Shyamalan, until The Happening was released. And I even managed to enjoy parts of that movie, despite it being one of the worst movies of that year. Even if I ignore the fact that it's a miserable failure as an adaption of the show, this is bad beyond belief. Everything about it. The worst part is probably the acting. It's just one step up from an Ed Wood movie. This is a completely unwatchable, abominable cinematic abortion that has been rightfully salvaged by critics as the heinous piece of shit it is. Don't go see it. Don't go see any new M. Night Shyamalan movie ever again. I'm disowning the man. I don't know what he did here, but I wouldn't want to know. Get away from anything the people involved in this movie (with the possible exception of Dev Patel) even touch and never, ever, pay for any movie that's converted into 3D ever again.
Not Worth It
DISCLAIMER: This review is for fans of the series, not for newcomers. SPOILERS WILL BE UNMARKED. The Last Airbender attempts to fit the twenty-episode first season into a two-hour movie, so some leeway should be given. While it's a Pragmatic Adaptation as regards to the plot, there are some things that are sorely lacking or were changed when they should not have been. The biggest of these is the Agni Kai between Zuko and Zhao, Aang's merging with the Ocean Spirit, and, obviously, Zhao's death by the Ocean Spirit (killed by random Waterbenders in the movie); in addition to Avatar Roku not appearing. (Suki and Jet are also MIA, I'll let that slide. I'll miss Bumi though.) While the martial arts is OK, the special effects doesn't seem to measure up. It has the grandeur of the series but it is not as fast-paced as in the series; sometimes there is a time-lag of a several seconds between complex martial arts moves and Bending, as opposed to the series where Bending occured immediately after simple motions. There is also completely new music, which is just general dramatic music rather than the cultural Asian-influenced music of the series, and even the main theme is missing. And nobody can pronounce anybody's name right. The only good change that is that the Ass Pull of Firebenders pulling fire out of.....nowhere has been partially changed; in the movie most Firebenders must carry a fire source, and only elites (like Iroh) can pull fire out of nowhere. On a side note, the sources of the Fantasy Counterpart Cultures have been changed. In the series, Air Nomads were Tibetan, Water Tribe Inuit, Earth Kingdom Chinese, and Fire Nation Japanese (its military similar to the Imperial Japanese Navy of WWII). In the movie, the Earth Kingdom is still Chinese, while the Water Tribe appears to use mostly European actors, and the Fire Nation appears as an Indian Empire (to match the casting of Dev Patel as Zuko). And of course Aang himself is 'white'.
What Would You Be Paying Money To See?
This.◊ Thank you, goodnight.
Well...this is thoroughly disappointing.
I went into this movie with really low expectations, and still managed to be profoundly disgusted. By about fifteen minutes in, I was unsure if anyone that had worked on this project had actually bothered to watch the show. We'll start with the honestly important plot points of the first season that were left out and/or changed needlessly. 1. Suki. Completely MIA. Suki, who has a role in the second season and becomes a pretty central character in the third. How are we supposed to introduce her now? 2. Zuko's ENTIRE MOTIVATION. In case you hadn't noticed, it's never actually explained why Zuko wants the Avatar so much. The story of his banishment is told, but not the terms of it. 3. The Comet comes in three years. Every scrap of urgency that space-rock endowed on the plot has been stripped. I mean, wasn't that really the driving force, the race against time that was in the background? It didn't show up often, but you definitely got the sense that they couldn't waste time. Now, the issues with characters. 1. Aang. Where is the lovable, happy-go-lucky kid from the series? It's pointed out multiple times in canon that, while he's the Avatar and he has this huge responsibility, he tries to act twelve as much as possible. Yeah, a few times he falls into a Heroic BSOD related to what he has to do, but those episodes are usually plot-important ones. He doesn't just angst and look upset for no reason. 2. Katara. Katara, what have they done to you? This is even more of a cardboard cutout than actor!Katara from The Ember Island Players, and I am shocked that they managed that. Katara in the series is awesome, a true role model for a strong female character. Not only is she caring and kind, but she kicks metric fucktons of ass. She singlehandedly gets an entire culture to rethink its prejudices, for God's sake! Oh yeah, that little scene? Where she, a waterbender with no formal training, takes on an Old Master and actually puts up a serious fight? One of her Crowning Moments for the first season? Not there. Along with her healing abilities, and her various other character development points over the course of the season. Cont'd in part two.
Not even the effects were decent. Sorry, Sokka.
First off, I was going in to this movie objectively. I wasn't going to moan about every inconsistency in the movie compared to an entire season's worth of material of the series because Adaptation Distillation is unavoidable. However, this cut straight to Adaptation Decay, because really, they just went from point A to point B. Many of the cuts will lead to major Plot Holes in the later movies. Knowing it won't live up to the series, I figured it would still be an enjoyable movie at least, right? No, sorry. Terrible acting, it says something when you prefer Aang's Dull Surprise to any other time he tries to actually act. Zuko and his sudden shouting every now and then went straight into Narm territory. The fight scenes and special effects were a disappointment. The choreography was weak, the Earthbending Prison fight scene (which invokes several levels of Fridge Logic when you realize they're standing right on top of earth) was possibly the worst, when it took a whole group of people doing long drawn-out dance moves to move so much as a rock. The style they used didn't match up to the raw power associated with Earthbenders. It was synchronized twirling. Almost every fight scene was just smothered in slow-motion, which made them downright lethargic. The best fight, IMO, was in the storage room, though it also seemed the shortest. Zhao got a bad case of Villain Decay, and was hard to see as any more of a threat than Zuko. Firelord Ozai lost his role of being The Faceless, which was what made him so terrifying the first season. I will not complain about the changes in the names of the characters. It was unneeded and even confusing, but it was advised by a linguist. Katara's Team Mom and Sokka's Plucky Comic Relief / Only Sane Man roles were downplayed so much, they're difficult to notice if you're not familiar with their characters in the series. Loved the detail in the glider though, and Momo (those few moments he did appear) looked great as well. I'm not going to mention the Unfortunate Implications of the casting either.
He has a lot to learn before he's ready to save anyone.
In brief: A weak plot, pretty special effects, and a villain who steals the show? This can only be Avatar. I expected to like this movie. I wanted to like this movie. I'm a fan of the cartoon, and the first trailer was promising. Then the negative reviews started pouring in... but, at the urging of a friend who was set on seeing it for himself, I saw it anyway. And I'm sorry to say they (the reviewers) were right. There's a lot I could talk about with more room, most bad, some good, and plenty interesting, but let's start with the points from the top. First, the actors. Aang's not bad. I seem to be in the minority in liking Jackson Rathbone's Sokka, race notwithstanding. Katara... I'm not sure if it was the actress or her extraordinarily strange lines — if Shyamalan was going for "epic", he's doing it wrong — but she wasn't good. I will say this: The actors playing the Fire Nation characters, Iroh, Ozai, Zhao, and especially Dev Patel's Zuko, were uniformly great. (Sadly, though Patel's gravitas almost makes up for it, Zhao does not punch a fish in the face.) The special effects are... well, they're fabulous. They managed to snare my attention for a few seconds at a time and make me wish they were part of a better movie. Just don't expect any great bending battles. You weren't looking forward to those, were you? But at its base: This was not a good adaptation. I believe it could have been done right, and there are moments where it almost works, or feels like it could have worked — the first thirty seconds, for example. I started to hope. But when text started scrolling from the bottom of a blank screen with a shaky voice-over explaining the story so far, the manic grin left my face and I realized that this was not the man for the job. In brief again: Lousy exposition, jarring transitions, and a near-total lack of the show's spirit and humor. Moments that should have been powerful fall flat — I'm not much for laughing at failed drama, but in the "life energy" scene, I was tempted. Someone behind me just couldn't resist and I can't blame them. It does get a bit better near the end, as it reaches "Siege of the North" territory, but it has a long way to go. The Last Airbender might make good MST3k material, but it doesn't cut it as a good movie.
Great Music, Good Effects, Nothing Else To Enjoy
POSSIBLE SPOILERS AHEAD!!! File the ending of "The Ember Island Players" under Hilarious In Hindsight. That... wasn't a good movie. I'll say. No kidding. Horrible. You said it. But the effects were decent. The only thing the movie does right is satisfy anyone's desire to see what bending might look like in the "real" world. Honestly, though, there are many scenes where the actors are doing all these complicated moves and nothing happens, as if someone seriously did just forget to add the CGI of elements reacting to them. What CGI bending there is is cool, though, and I loved the music. Aside from the visuals and music, there's nothing else about the movie to like. The plot and the characters are very poorly written, it has none of the humor or excitement or drama of the series, it doesn't even make the smallest Mythology Gag to the series, and "Grandma" (*groan*) has the Avatar confused with Captain Planet. The Avatar cannot bend, and I quote, "heart" (chi, yes, but "heart," no!). I expected the grand battle at the Northern Water Tribe to be the moment for the plot to shine, but they ruin everything: Zuko and his arch rival Zhao never fight once, there's no Koh or Aang merging with Ocean Spirit, Yue makes her sacrifice but doesn't turn into the Moon Spirit, and Zhao is killed in the most anti-climactic, pathetic way possible. Only worth seeing once, and that's only if you've seen the cartoon. Interesting things of note: Sozin's Comet has 3 years to arrive (to allow for the real actors to age), Iroh clearly thinks Zuko needs to get laid, and the additional Elemental Baggage to Firebending is just stupid. Stick with adapting only episodes of Nickelodeon shows instead of the whole series, Shyamalan.
even worse than you've heard.
There's exactly one good thing about this film, which is that it's so awful people who boycott it because of the casting won't be missing anything. The SFX are passable, but nowhere near as good as they should have been with the film's budget, and the fight choreography is OK compared to most movies but awful compared to the show. Shyamalan is faithful to the show's plot, but he compresses 10 hours of story into an hour and 45 minutes by hitting each major plot point but jettisoning everything that made the story worthwhile - humor, characterization, worldbuilding, logic. Here's a sample of the writing quality - on the show, Earthbenders are imprisoned on an ironclad ship, and the Gaang steals coal from the engine room so they can Earthbend it and fight back. In the movie, they're just locked in a dirt-floored prison camp, where they stand around helplessly until Aang reminds them that THE GROUND IS MADE OF DIRT. A decent adaptation would have been willing to change the details of the story to save time while preserving its spirit, instead of giving us a plot that's technically faithful but completely soulless. (I mean, why even bother including Momo when you don't have time to do anything worthwhile with him OR time to develop characters who are central to the plot?) I would have been willing to grudgingly overlook the whitewashing of the main protagonists if the white actors had really nailed their characters. They don't. They're all awful even for child actors, although it's hard to blame them considering the dialogue they get (even Dev Patel can't manage much). There is just no chance Shyamalan couldn't have found Asian and Inuit actors who could do AT LEAST this well. And he compounds the racism by adding in sexism - all of Katara's character development and badass moments are systematically either removed entirely, drastically downplayed, or given to a male character. I could go on about more problems - awful dialogue, no characterization, dark cinematography. The decision to change the pronunciation of character names is even more annoying than you imagine. But really, there is just nothing good here. Even wanting to laugh at it doesn't justify the ticket price. This movie goes straight past So Bad Its Good and loops around to So Bad Its Horrible.
Not as bad as everyone says. Still unfortunate.
It wasn't So Bad Its Horrible. It also definitely wasn't So Bad Its Good. I'm not even sure it qualifies for So Okay Its Average. None of the individual parts I noticed were that bad, except the dialog and pacing. The visuals weren't bad. The characters looked good and were fairly believable as being the characters they claimed to be, racebending issues aside. Costuming was good. Sound was good. The choreography was okay, other than looking more like dancing than fighting and being too slow. They hit the major points of the story, and the changes that were made to the script were not that big a deal. For example, extending the story to three years makes sense given the fact that the actors are going to be aging and that's how long it will take to make the three movies. And if anything, it makes the speed with which Katara and Aang become proficient at Waterbending and in Aang's case Earthbending and Firebending more sensible as well. Firebenders needing their element to bend....a bit bothersome, but not so egregious as all that, one or two moments of Fridge Logic aside. Ozai being involved from the beginning was actually an improvement over the source material. What it all comes down to is just clumsy filmmaking. It was like watching a good movie where the DVD skips around at random and a friend summarizes the parts you miss to you. The pacing is clumsy. The dialog is clumsy and exposition-heavy. The plot arc what it needed to accomplish but, again, clumsily. The acting....wasn't that bad. From anyone. At least, considering what the actors had to work with. Where the acting seemed bad, I'm fairly well convinced that the dialog they were being given, and the mood that the director decided to try to set, were at fault. Part of the problem was the gravitas around the project. The movie took itself seriously, which was obviously a big waste, and not just considering the source material. There were a few scenes that unintentionally got chuckles from the audience just because of the humor in the situation, or because it involved Unfunnys being so serious. Honestly, I feel like this entire movie could've been salvaged by making one change: Shyamalan. And I feel sort of bad about saying that, because honestly it does seem like he had respect for the source material. He just didn't have the filmmaking abilities to accomplish anything.
Hilarious beyond belief
I don't think Manoj Nelliyattu Shyalaman was the least bit serious when he made this movie. I mean, its so funny in its stupidity that its impossible anyone to take its seriously. Rather, I think M Night Shyamalan was just trolling with us all along. All the horrible acting, all the racial Unfortunate Implications, the Chickification of Katara, all of that was made so that good sir Shyalaman/Shyamalan/whatever was just mocking us Avatar The Last Airbender fans. And the end result was this thing, which is comparable to Troll 2 in its silliness.
All Style, No Substance
I've been an Avatard since episode six, "Imprisoned." I LOVE THIS SHOW. Now, I had my expectations very, very, very low for this movie. I went with a friend and her expectations were much higher, so she was disappointed. Now, before I continue, I should mention two things. One is that I saw the movie in 2-D, not 3-D. The other is that I watched the series, discussed it online, and absolutely loved the details in all aspects of the show before coming to see it. I basically tuned the "plot" out after the first half hour because I was confused, there were absolutely no relationships between any of the characters, and no conflict apart from FIRE NATION = EVIL, and OTHER NATIONS = GOOD. Stripping the movie of its non-existent "plot" and "characters," it suddenly becomes a lot better. Visually, it is actually a treat to watch as a stand-alone if you do not compare it to the series. (Zuko's character design in particular stands out.) Some of the visuals I actually preferred to the ones in the original series, Aang's tattoo being one, the air temple flashback sequences being another. The visuals themselves at times are quite beautiful, but the rest of the movie does not hold up to them. The plot, even knowing it going into the theatre, makes little to no sense. The dialogue is long, meaningless, and monotone. The acting is next to non-existent. The combination of these elements creates a movie that's stunning to watch but completely and utterly boring otherwise. I do not recall feeling a single emotion at any of the scenes, in contrast to the original series, where I can truthfully say I laughed, I cried, and I connected with the characters.
I'm not going to focus this review on how much of middle finger this was to the series. Even if a movie isn't an accurate adaptation it could still be an enjoyable movie, right? Well, that question will remain unanswered as this movie blew, it sucked, it was flawed in almost every respect. Alright here's one bitching that I haven't heard before, why did they go from Supernatural Martial Arts to Kung Fu Wizard, the martial arts were a Magical Gesture which...just bugs me! And Badass Decay for The Chick and The Smart Guy are expected, but for the main character too? And the exposition was so bad that only fans would get what's happening, but they'd hate it for the decay, so who's it marketed to? First, the characters, Ang (I refuse to call him Aang) is probably the most boring actor of the bunch and his character arc is...to master his emotions? He doesn't have any emotions to master! The lead should not be dull, and his crowd raising speech was god-awful, he wasn't even hilariously bad just sleep worthy, and his stunts were ruined by the camera work. Katara, ugh, The Chick, nothing more, her lines and acting were bad, but were overshadowed by Soka (He doesn't deserve the name Sokka). Yeah, she was completely superfluous to the story. Soka was bad, he was really bad, obnoxious, dumb, aggravating, useless, annoying, arrogant, and a total dick hole. I wanted to kill him when he tried to be funny and laughed whenever he tried to be serious. Iroh was kinda badass, but pointless. Zuko was probably the third best acted part of the movie but, that ain't saying much. Dev Patel jumped from yelling angrily to speaking softly and quietly, which makes me think a lot of these guys aren't bad actors, just the direction was terrible. Ozai was completely useless and probably the least imposing Evil Overlord I've ever seen, he looked like Zhao's less scary brother, not FIRELORD OZAI!!!, I don't know why he was there, not to mention, Azula looks like she's going to sell me cookies, not kick my ass and make me enjoy it. Zhao was simply awesome though, Aasif was epic and seemed to be the only guy to actually use strategy, and if wasn't for his completely balls fighting abilities, he would've won. All in all, terrible, but the effects were good!
Great, not Awesome
The Last Airbender is a pretty good movie, it did fairly at adapting TEN HOURS into a roughly two-hour movie. Although, when compressing, somethings needed to be cut. Like 'The Storm', a favorite episode of mine, but I can let it slide as it had little to do with the plot. The effects for the movie are good, though the 3D effects were minamal. Hey, would you rather have a 3D major gimmick movie or just a few 3D effects? But the elements did look real. The acting was good, they had the feel from the series, but made the part thier own. Overall it was a good movie, however it doesn't comepare to the series. But I hope to see the next two, as long as we support this movie, by seeing it in the theater, telling M Night he has a good idea and reviewing it, telling what could be improved.
Not Terrible, But Disappointing.
No space for introduction. I did not think that what was cut was all bad. Most of it was not needed for the main story of Aang reaching the North Pole. And the replacement story that he is spending his time jump starting a revolution is passable. The only sad loss is Suki, but Sokka having two romances in one movie would have been silly. The weirder loss is of Roku. But, by cutting out a lot of episodes, they cut a lot of backstory as well. To fix that, various characters provide lots of exposition, and it is always provided poorly. Characters will start talking with almost no prompting. And Katara's narration is terrible, and oddly enough, would have fit better as regular exposition. You can see Nicola Peltz waiting for her turn to say her lines. Noah Ringer swings between sad and sort of confused for most of the movie, showing happy or angry emotions only at the beginning. Seychelle Gabriel sounds like she does not have a thought in her head. Jackson Rathborne was okay, for what little he appeared. He did not do much beyond acting cranky, and his love scenes were not impressive. Dev Patel was stuck in single-minded Wangst mode, even more than actual Zuko. The adult actors were better. Shaun Toub was spot on as Iroh, even if some of his more bombastic personality is lost. Aasif Mandvi found a good balance betwen being a jerk without overdoing it. And Ozai was actually a character and not merely a plot device. Another problem was how little depth the characters had because not enough time was devoted to Character Development. Kind of a Catch-22, they could not have the characters bullshitting around when a story is going on, but it makes most of the characters uninteresting. My friend called it the Cliff Notes version of the first season. People who have seen the movie will recognize characters and stories if they watched the show later. But a lot of what made the show fun is lost. But it is not the "excrement wiped on celluloid" film the internet said it was. The characters, while shallow, were at least somewhat accurate, as was the story. Instead it was rather sad. It could have been good, there are parts in there that show the movie had potential. Instead it stands as a testament to why cramming an entire season of a show into a movie does not work. And why the casting director should not work in Hollywood again.
The Last Airbender?
Yeah just saw the movie.. and I gotta say, not worth the $13 dollars I had to pay to apparently see it in 3-D. I say apparently because aside from the Nerdtastic 3-D glasses... there was no 3-Dness. It wasn't beautifully handled like How To Train Your Dragon. It just made things blurry whenever the camera decided to move faster than Matrix Bullet-Time. The characters were bland, there was FAR too much exposition going on to just shove plot down our throats. Grandma seemed to think "Ong" could bend people's hearts to stop the war... Anyway, onto characterization fail: Ratbum wasn't the best Sewka, his wolf tail was way too long (probably so he can hide the shaved side of his head. No dyeing for your art here) and he was so flat and wooden about his lines. Hell, everyone was on the hero side of things. Except for maybe this one exasperated "katarrraaaa!" on Sewka's part. Katara, man I don't even know why she WENT on this trip. Her only motivation for following Ong appears to be because she feels responsible for him since she found him in the ice *eyeroll* Also, they morphed Haru into a little kid not much bigger than Ong. Lame. Zhao I didn't recognize as he did not have epic sideburns and was kinda one of those pathetic sub-bosses you get sometimes. E-roh looked like an aging badass not a silly old man. He also seemed to insist Zuko needed a girlfriend, did not drink nearly enough tea, but at least seemed geniunely kind hearted. Appa was a little uncanny valley in the face. But its not as bad since he moves about. Momo was cute. Also, Azula was more like a girl scout than axe-crazy. What was right: Not much but, there were a couple of things I did like. For one, Grandma had a little throw away line I happened to be "ooh! there! shout out!" about. I also liked how they handled Ong realizing he's the last of his kind then freaking out. The acting bit not so much on the freak out.... But the events of them being there at the southern air temple and Ong not going realizing that everyone is gone meant bad things... That I did like. It seemed fairly in character for Aang even if the kiddo who played Ong couldn't really convey things properly. For the most part... I'd say rent this so you and your friends could go all MST 3 K on it and generally goof about. So long as you don't maintain any high hopes you'll be okay.
A Spectacular Failure, On Every Level.
M. Night Shyamalan's The Last Airbender is, in short, fail on a stick. Before watching this film, keep in mind that it is ''not'' a film adapatation of Avatar The Last Airbender. It is, however, a rather long amateur film by an up-and-coming director, which, while trying hard, is not really very entertaining. The movie is clearly inspired by Avatar The Last Airbender, sharing many elements with the source material, to the point where the main characters are Captain Ersatz-es of Aang, Sokka and Katara. Seriously though, if one is not a fan of the original series, do not watch this film. The plot will be incomprehensible and the concept confusing. If you are a fan of the source material, do not watch this film. The plot has been butchered, and the characters and characterization literally do not exist.
Review By an Avatar Fan for Avatar Fans
Where do I begin? Well firstly, for all you aspiring directors out there, let this movie be a lesson on why it is a bad idea to shoot on location in frackin' Greenland. This movie had a huge budget, but it becomes obvious that much of that budget went into keeping Jackson Rathbone and friends from suffering hypothermia and keeping camera lenses thawed than into important stuff like the CGI and convincing Shyamalan that he has no screenwriting ability. Why Greenland? Honestly, why drag your crew out to the middle of nowhere when you can just as easily find all the ice you need just a few miles hike from Reykjavik, a large and cosmopolitan city? Lord knows Iceland could have used the extra tourism. Anyways, after squandering most of his budget on the first fifteen minutes of the film, Shyamalan decided to do the rest of the shooting in Philadelphia, and it shows. When fire benders storm the walls of the Northern water tribes' fortress, the fake snow and even faker ice look like something out of an old Star Trek set. After spending about half the film wandering around what is clearly the New Jersey pine barrens doing random things, our not-so-intrepid (or interesting or fun or lovable or anything) heroes finally got to do some bending with the much anticipated blue spirit scene. At least, if you call rattling a few wooden shutters around while Noah Ringer attempts to communicate with the fire nation through interpretive dance "bending", then damn did we ever see some bending! Oh that's right, someone forgot to save some money for hiring a competent CGI team that could actually make bending look like the awesome that it was in the television series because they spent it all on shooting in the middle of a freezing hellhole that is six hours sled ride to the nearest shack. And that is the biggest problem with this film - everything that should have been cool wasn't. Katara didn't do any bending because the actress couldn't do the martial arts moves, Sokka had zero sarcastic lines, Iroh was skinny and Appa looked like a furry plastic cockroach. And you know what the sad part is? Shyamalan isn't kidding when he says that he is a fan of the show - he's covered the walls of his house in Airbender posters. I can see him now, curled up in the corner of a dark room, hugging his knees to his chest and crying, the poor bastard.
Is it really that hard to get a character arc right?
Seriously, the only character that seemed to relate to their show!self was Zuko. Personally, I love Zuko, but there is so much more to the show than just his angst. Movie!Aang: It's like they forgot that he's a prodigy at waterbending (not 'til earthbending) and that Koizilla (yeah, remember that? actual giant fish-person thing, not just huge-ass tidal wave) was him completely losing his shit, not coming to grips with his angst. Plus, Show!Aang had to learn to get with the whole "seriousness" thing, not constantly be staring solemnly into the screen. Movie!Katara: Show!Katara is supposed to be a bitchy sister, a motherly figure, and a kickass bender. She's driven by her mother's death, fighting against injustice, and there ain't no one gonna tell her what not to do. I'm really not sure what Movie!Katara's purpose even was. Movie!Sokka: The Meat and Sarcasm Guy. Supposed to be dealing with having become the man of the entire village, coming to grips with having to be a leader, the pragmatist, a brother and really the only nonbender of the group. Instead, Movie!Sokka was reduced to awkward attempts at Show!Sokka humor. And what was up with your warrior's wolftail? Movie!Iroh: For two whole seasons, we all thought Show!Iroh was just this fat old guy who liked tea. He was awesome, but mainly because he didn't put up with any of Zuko's shit and was the kindly wise influence that everyone should listen to. We sort of knew he was a general, got a couple of glimpses of possible coolness, but it's mostly old man goodness. So when he busts out his Dragon of the West moves on us, we flipped out. So unexpected and therefore so completely awesome! Movie!Iroh always looks like he is perfectly capable of kicking ass even without fire and then when he finally does break out his superspecialawesome firebending... he doesn't do anything with it. It feels completely pointless, rather than the freakin' awesome moment of kickass by Show!Iroh. Movie!Ozai: Wait, was Ozai even in Book One? Movie!Zhao: Arrogant kickass independent thinker to weaselly stooge. Also, his sideburns weren't nearly big enough. Movie:Pakku: What happened to his superiority complex? It really stung to hear "water is acceptance" out of that show!chauvinistic old dude's mouth. Movie!Suki: Wait... Movie!Jet: Erm...
A Poorly Done Adaptation
Warning: Spoilers Ahead First is the bad acting and dialogue, Noah Ringer as Aang, Nicola Peltz as Katara, and Jackson Rathbone as Sokka present the worst of it. Second is the pacing. While it is expected that the story be distilled since its being adapted from an entire television season, most of the film feels rushed and makes an overuse of exposition instead of showing what has occured. This also leaves little room for characterization. If the run time had been extended by 30-60 minutes this may have been fixed somewhat as well as allowed for a few of the things that had been cut. Some of the alterations to the story make no sense. Example, the Earthbender internment camp is on land instead of a mining rig leaving one to wonder why they don't rebel before the arrival of Aang. The CGI portrayal of bending, Appa, and Momo is actually good, however unlike the series in which bending of the elements was synced up with characters movements, most of the film has the characters performing martial arts like motions for several seconds before their element actually does anything. In several places it seems like bending should be occurring when it isn't, such as the scenes where Katara and Aang are apparently performing bending katas (always next to sources of water no less) without actually bending. And finally a number of major characters and elements from the series have been cut, including:
- King Bumi and Omashu
- Suki, the Kyoshi Warriors, and Kyoshi Island (A statue of Avatar Kyoshi is shown and named.)
- The Mechanist (The Northern Air Temple is present.)
- Jet and the Freedom Fighters
- Aang's temporary fusion with La, the Ocean spirit, to repel the Fire Nation from the Norther Water Tribe Capital (Instead Aang creates a very large wall of water which merely causes the Fire Nation fleet to retreat instead of destroying much of it. Zhao is drowned on screen by a quartet of Waterbenders instead of La dragging him into the ocean.)
- Avatar Roku in Spirit Form (A statue of him is shown and a spirit dragon is present which may be Roku's dragon, Fang.)
- Katara's Healing abilities
- Much of the characterization of the series (Aang's cheerful demeanor is missing through much of the film. Sokka's intelligence and humor aren't shown. Katara's strong will is absent and her abilities as a Waterbender are lessened.)
A Prime Example of Adaptation Decay.
Let's pretend for a moment that I am not a die-hard fan of Avatar: The Last Airbender. The Last Airbender is mediocre at best. The acting could have been better, the dialogue needed to be outright rewritten, the effects were pretty cool, but the narrative itself was too fast. Putting my fan-cap back on, the movie is a piece of crap. I do not know how someone, especially someone who has supposedly done his research, could so utterly fuck up an adaptation. Right off the bat: 10 hours of animated show. Less than 2 hours of movie. You'd need three hours, at least, to tell the story. So instead, all you've get was "It's been [time] since [the last thing they did in the movie]" over, and over again. Now, before I continue, I never expect an adaptation to follow the source material to the letter. That would just be a lazy re-do to appease the fans. People would still pay to see it, I'm sure. But The Last Airbender is Avatar: The Last Airbender In Name Only. And that goes double for the characters. First up: Aang. In the show, he's goofy and lighthearted even though he's the last of his kind. Movie!Aang was like The Awakening!Aang, but all the time. Furthermore, the reason he gave for running away. Not "I was going to be separated from my mentor and father figure," but "They told me that the Avatar can never have a family." I now want to see the third movie to see how they deal with the one twist involving Roku's family. Movie!Sokka, during the first few minutes of the movie, established himself as a douche and a moron. He looked like about to pimp-slap his sister for splashing him, and a few minutes later, got the bright idea to crach the ice that he was standing on. And he says a line that was close to his line in the first episode. Movie!Katara Was hilarious. Nearly every line was delivered with such cheesiness that I didn;t know whether to Face Palm or laugh till I ruptured something. Movie!Zuko was alright. Could have been better. Also, the scar was barely noticeable in [too] many of the shots. Movie!Iroh was good. Needed to drink more tea though. And the climax. No giant rampaging Godzilla Ocean Spirit Koi Fish. Big wave that does nothing. Zhao does nothing and is killed by random Water Tribe mooks. So in short: If you like the show, you'll probably hate the movie with a burning passion.