The Last Airbender Reviews
Absolutely butchered the source material, but extremely awful even if you've never seen the show. Can't even begin to list all of the things wrong with this travesty of a film.
You want a great adaptation of a cartoon? Go watch the Speed Racer movie. Yes I'm serious! In my opinion, it was the best film based on a cartoon that I did watch during my youth.
It is a common trend for many popular TV shows and comic books to hit the big screen to increase fan base and gain money. Some even become live-action films. There are many great live-action movies like for instance the "Avengers. However, some popular cartoons such as Avatar: The Last Airbender should stay as a cartoon. Due to its horrible special effects, characters, and dialogue the film, The Last Airbender, is a horrible live-action adaptation of the original TV series.
The special effects on the element bending in the movie looked unrealistic and horrible. waterbending throughout most of the movie moves in a sluggish pace with prolonged martial art performances. The movie's main plot is about the avatar, who can manipulate air, mastering the element water before the other elements earth and fire. In the fight scene between firebenders and waterbenders, a waterbender freezes some of the soldiers to prevent them from attacking others however, it does not actually show the waterbender creating the ice on scene just sound effects as he moves around, then ice appears after the scene cuts. In the TV series, waterbending moves water at a faster pace, does not require many martial art moves and does not look like a dripping glob, but takes different forms and can be quickly used as offense or defense. In general, the movie made waterbending boring.
There was no creativity and imagination with the earthbending in the movie. Earthbending in the film is just a person floating a rock that wobbles, moves one mile per hour toward the enemy or summon a bigger rock as a shield, which was hard to see because of it being covered by the dust of dirt. Literally, it took six men who did a type of army dance to create a wall big enough to cover a man and child even though the same man they protected created the exact same size wall by himself to protect the child in the earlier fight scene between earthbenders and firebenders. This made the six men look pathetic and weak. In the TV version, earthbending is base on strong martial art stances that can create different sizes and shapes of rocks that can really do damage and can definitely move faster than one mile per hour.
The fire looked, in some scenes, not life threatening. Throughout the cartoon series, firebending was seen as terrifying force due to it being the enemy's source of power. Sometimes during the film, the firebenders' fire would have a smoke trail and at other times, there would be little to no smoke trail at all. Commented by the agreeable words of Robert Ebert, "Firebenders' flames don't seem to really burn" (Ebert 1). There were some parts in the movie where the fire looked unnatural that even children could tell the difference. In the scene when a firebender and waterbender fight, the fire hits the waterbender knocking that person out, but the waterbender does not have any burnt marks on their skin and clothes at all. Even though the genre is fantasy, the film could have at least made an effort to create burnt marks on the characters' clothes after getting hit by the flames.
The airbending in the movie compared to the show was repetitive and time-consuming. Out of the four elements, airbending actually had some descent moments. Even so, sometimes is not enough to escape criticism. When Aang airbends, it is just like the other elements with the same slow build up and when the wind finally appears, it repeatedly comes from the ground throughout most of the film. Airbending, again like other elements in the show, is supposed to be versatile with different movements when the bender does different poses, but through most of the movie nine times out of ten the main character, Aang, does the same airbending moves.
The main character, Aang, in the movie did have similar physical features compared to his TV counterpart but, lacked the emotions and personality. Aang is a 12-year-old airbender, who has a joyful personality, frozen in a glacier for a century and has to learn three elements to save the world. In the movie version, Aang's personality is the opposite; he is hardly happy throughout the film and when he is happy or shows other emotions, it appears to be forced and empty.
The Southern Water Tribe siblings were both dull characters and not as amusing as the cartoon version of themselves. Sokka is the comic relief of the show that is not a bender and is the older brother of Katara. Sadly, in the movie Sokka was a different person, he was not funny and was too serious in the movie. Katara has a motherly personality, who motivates others, and improves on her waterbending throughout the show but in the movie, just like the others, Katara lacked the personality of her TV counterpart. She was not that caring in the movie and instead of treating Aang as a friend like in the series, she treats him like an abandoned puppy she found in the street in the beginning of the film. In addition, throughout the movie she does not hold well on her own in a fight.
Prince Zuko in the movie is the most unrecognizable character when compared to his cartoon counterpart. Now Zuko's personality on the film was pretty close to series, but his physical features, which shaped his personality is almost non-existent. For someone who got part of his face burnt off, the movie version of Zuko just looks like he had sunburn on his eye. What's more, Zuko is mainly bald with a little bit of hair in a high ponytail in the first season, but in the film, Zuko had a good amount of hair with a few pieces on the burnt part of the face. The minor characters are also a piece of work, an example being Iroh who is Zuko's uncle. Iroh in the movie was slim, tall, and a wise older man instead of being a short, plump, and nifty hilarious elderly man. The movie in general was too stern and lacked the appeal and passion that the TV series had.
The dialogue between characters was dull, not believable, and screen shots were awkward to look at. Ebert acknowledges that the characters "are bland, stiff, awkward and unconvincing" (Ebert 1). When the characters talk, their words have no feel to them making it hard to feel anything for the characters. The characters do a lot of explaining to the point where the audience would feel as if they are watching a boring documentary about history. Ebert states, "The dialogue is couched in unspeakable quasi-medieval formalities; the characters are so portentous they seem to have been trained for grade school historical pageants" (Ebert 1). There are many blank stares into the camera from the characters and sometimes characters just stand around in some fighting scenes. In addition, the close screen shots that zoom in on the characters' faces when they are having a conversation with each other can make some audiences uncomfortable.
Some viewers may say that race does not matter as long as the movie is good and consistent. In some cases, that might be true, but for this movie that is not the case. The show was so popular on Nickelodeon that when many of its fans watched the movie they were confused and rightfully angry that their favorite characters were unrecognizable and in addition with the bad acting, the characters were unlikeable as well. This is supported by Ebert, "This casting makes no sense because (1) It's a distraction for fans of the hugely popular TV series, and (2) all three actors are pretty bad" (Ebert 1). The movie is an inspiration from the show, which is base on Asian culture. Airnomads are base mostly on Tibetan Buddhist Monks, the Water Tribes are most likely Inuit or Eskimos, Earth kingdom was maybe base on the Chinese, and Fire Nation Tribes are base mostly on Japanese. However, in the film, the main heroes were white and the villains were Indian.
Others may argue that because the show is a cartoon and not based on real people race should not be an issue, but those viewers are missing the point. Yes, it is a cartoon, people will never find actors who look identical to the characters, but M. Night Shyamalan could have at least tried to find actors that could almost pull off the look and act like the characters. This also did not sit well with most viewers because many of them saw the film as "good" light-skinned heroes against "bad" dark- skinned villains This is heavily supported by Lou Lumenick's statement, "This fiasco has deservedly generated advance criticism for hiring Caucasian actors to play leads that were portrayed as Asians in the TV show and pitting them against darker-skinned bad guys" (Lumenick 1). Yet, at the South Water Tribe where Sokka and Katara lived, all the background characters except for their grandmother looked Inuit or Eskimo. The Indian actor who plays Zuko in one scene was looking at his family photo, however, the photo is one of the many plot holes the film has to offer, as the picture looked similar to the TV cartoon version of Zuko and his family instead of the film's Zuko and his family.
Viewers will dare say that the plot of the movie was good but here is why they are mistaken. Supported by Lou's claim, "This basic story line was played out over the TV series' first season - the couple of episodes I watched had an offbeat charm - but in Shyamalan's inept hands it's easily the worst of the many overplotted" (Lumenick 1). The movie tried to cramp everything from season one into a 90-minute movie, which created many problems. By overfilling the movie, it missed important parts to the story like Kyoshi warriors, Jet, the other spirits other than the dragon, and so on. In the movie, there were earthbender prisoners on land. Not on a metal ship, not on an ice glacier, but on land where there is rock, that could be bend by the earthbenders. What is worse is that none of the earthbenders did anything even though they have most of the advantage over the Fire Nation soldiers and could have escaped with out the Avatar's help.
Firebenders, except for Iroh, in the movie are unable to make fire on their own; they have to use troches in order to firebend, which was not explained why they need troches. Yet in the show, every firebender can bend their element without a main source unlike earthbenders and waterbenders, unless they (earthbenders and waterbenders) are highly skilled. If that was the case, why did no one have the idea to put out the troches so firebenders are not capable of firebending, that itself could have ended the war. In addition, it was never explained why Iroh is the only one in the movie who can bend fire without a source.
This movie had the potential of becoming great, but due to the lack of creativity and bad acting, the movie fell flat. The first trailer of the movie had many fans and viewers who never seen the show excited and made them want to see the film, never knowing the horrendous truth until it was too late. The Last Airbender movie proved to be M. Night Shyamalan's trick to crush many fans hearts and spend the audiences' money in disappointment.
Ebert, Roger. "The Last Airbender Movie Review (2010) Roger Ebert." 30 June 2010. Web.
Kim, Brad. "Racebending (The Last Airbender Casting Controversy)." Digital Image Know Your Meme News, Know Your Meme, Web. 12 May 2016. 12 October 2016.
Lumenick, Lou. "M. Night's Bad Air Day." 2 July 2010.Web.
The Last Airbender. M. Night Shyamalan. Noah Ringer, Nicola Peltz, Dev Patel, Jackson Rathbone, Seychelle Gabriel. Paramount Pictures and Nickelodeon Studios, July 1, 2010. Nickelodeon Movies. Film.5 October 2016.