|DVD The Last Airbender
Run time: 103 min
Genres: Action | Adventure | Family
Director: M. Night Shyamalan
Writers: M. Night Shyamalan
Stars: Noah Ringer, Nicola Peltz, Jackson Rathbone
The world is divided into four kingdoms, each represented by the element they harness, and peace has lasted throughout the realms of Water, Air, Earth, and Fire under the supervision of the Avatar, a link to the spirit world and the only being capable of mastering the use of all four elements. When young Avatar Aang disappears, the Fire Nation launches an attack to eradicate all members of the Air Nomads to prevent interference in their future plans for world domination. 100 years pass and current Fire Lord Ozai continues to conquer and imprison anyone with elemental “bending” abilities in the Earth and Water Kingdoms, while siblings Katara and Sokka from a Southern Water Tribe find a mysterious boy trapped beneath the ice outside their village. Upon rescuing him, he reveals himself to be Aang, Avatar and last of the Air Nomads. Swearing to protect the Avatar, Katara and Sokka journey with him to the Northern Water Kingdom in his quest to master “Waterbending” and eventually fulfill … Written by The Massie Twins
|Plot Keywords: fire, water, avatar, kingdom, attack|
Release Date: 13 August 2010 (UK)
Budget: $150,000,000 (estimated)
Opening Weekend: £1,653,776 (UK) (13 August 2010)
Gross: $131,564,731 (USA) (17 September 2010)
After waiting extremely eagerly for this movie, I sat in the theater and was extremely eager for it to END. Ear-oh? Oong? Soak-ah?! Could they have butchered the names anymore than they did? Worse, the entire movie felt like a string of clips put together for an hour and a half and not like a movie at all. All the major parts of the Book of Water were skimmed over, while things like the freeing of the earth nation village (while important) were given screen time that could have been given to major events like the southern air temple.
The actors were dismal, with the exception of Dev Patel as Zuko and to a lesser extent Shaun Toub as Iroh, who wasn't an accurate portrayal of Iroh visually but at least captured the character's wisdom much better than many of the other actors on board for the movie. He however failed to provide many of the aspects of Iroh that made him endearing in the series.
I will give that the northern water kingdom was gorgeous, but that's about all I have to say kindly about this movie.
If you love Avatar: The Last Airbender as the series, I recommend giving this movie a miss. It's heartbreaking how they butchered something that had such fantastic and barely needing change source material.
I went to see the Midnight showing of The Last Airbender tonight. I am a huge fan of the series and had been awaiting this movie for months. I understood that this was to be a children's movie, but the series was for children as well and I loved that. What could go wrong? This movie was a cinematic abomination. The entire movie, which covers the first "Book" of the series is rushed together and jumps around in a totally nonsensical manner. There is absolutely NO time spent on characterization. None of the characters had any depth at all and may as well have been cardboard cutouts. Major plot points are summarized through narration or montage and the film would leave any person not familiar with the story absolutely dumbfounded. With all of my heart I discourage you from seeing this movie. Go see Karate Kid. Go see Killers. Go see (I cannot believe I am saying this) Eclipse. Just stay away from this movie.
I would like to share my son's review. He just turned 8 and dictated as his dad typed:
I just hate it so bad!!!
I'm a HUGE fan of the the cartoons. I have the whole series, including Water, Earth and Fire.
It was a HUGE disappointment because even by the time I saw the commercial, I knew it would be completely crushing!
I mean, the characters! Iroh was the greatest disappointment. He was not kind and wise enough. And also he was not old enough.
And why can't they say anyone's name right!???
I thought it was completely disrespectful to put the characters skin colors the opposite.
After the first twenty minutes of it I was bored already but I have to say the effects were decent.
And the Avatar did not have enough happiness in him! I think it's important to the movie. Aang is the main character of the movie, and he should at least get a little more happiness inside of him!
When I got home that night I had to watch the cartoon series for some time to completely forget about the movie!
And… actually, I'm watching it right now!
If anybody wanted to see this movie I would suggest they close their eyes and ears!!!
Dad's two cents:
My son became interested in Avatar the Last Air Bender, the animated series at age 4.
I bought him the entire series on DVD as soon as the episodes were available and he and I devoured every episode, again and again.
Compared to the magnificently crafted animated series, I'd have to say the live action movie was an abysmal embarrassment, a sophomoric and vapid display of ignorance.
Go rent or buy the animated series instead. I think it's some of the best fiction ever written for children. It's incredible. It's an epic parable dealing with sophisticated philosophical, cultural, emotional and spiritual issues which have plagued human civilization since the emergence of reason. And it does it with lightheartedness and joy. The theme deals with no less than issues of greed, power, spirituality, and the formation of identity and moral values. It grapples with the ideals of pacifism. It teaches teamwork, compassion, empathy and humility. It exemplifies wisdom and the appreciation of art, nature and connectedness – connectedness to each other, to nature, to animals, to the universe, and emphasizes detachment from possession. The story line traverses goofy playfulness, tween and young teen crushes and love, family power dynamics, friendship, mental illness, and gut wrenching loss. And it's an incredible primer for Eastern spiritual ideals and mythology.
But these things can't be achieved effectively without superb craftsmanship. So beautifully wrought is this story that the fun, action and struggles are adeptly punctuated with moving poignancy.
The live action version is NONE of these things. No insight, no depth of character, only the most cursory references of some of the core thematic values of the animated series, and those done so poorly as to come off as just… pathetically trite.
The thing I find most upsetting regarding the failure of this movie to deliver is that the original animated series covers all of what I find to be the best of Eastern culture, and we Westerners need to understand these things in this global community. Buddhist and Confucian ideals and philosophies are front and center and, in my mind, are the greatest gifts the East has to offer the world, and the very things that are most clearly in danger of vanishing in the face of the West's insignificant obsession with material gain and conspicuous consumption.
And another thing, too. It's typical that this story was handled on the level it was – dismissively. Adults appear to be largely disinterested in the profound turmoil in which children are engaged as they enter their teens. They are forming their value systems, they are trying to reconcile reality with fantasy and desire. They are trying to find the balance between selfishness and empathy. They are finding what it means to be themselves, members of a community, and a species on the planet. They are in agony grappling with issues we were happy to leave behind. But these struggles are never truly resolved, and our ideas of who we are and how we fit in the world cannot remain fixed, and, yet, when they are challenged, we adults consider ourselves to be in a state of crisis, when that is the perpetual state of being of a young teen. And I would argue it's a state of flux that we should never leave, that we should always be questioning ourselves, our figures of authority, and our place in the world and in relation to those around us. I do not see these struggles as juvenile, but human, and the animated series brings all these struggles to mind. Sadly, the movie did little to bring the richness of these struggles to life.
In my most critical mood, I would say this failure is deeply offensive to my sensibilities as a human being.
But on the other hand, not everyone has the depth of vision and creative genius to pull off what admittedly would be a very challenging feat. I just wish I could see what David Lean could have done with this story.
Shyamalan takes a stunningly sophisticated cartoon and reduces it to one of the most insultingly dumb films I've seen in years. From the script to the visuals, the directing, the acting, there is absolutely nothing that did well, either as an adaptation or as a film in its own right.
Characters who were once powerful and spitfire (Katara) or entertainingly sarcastic (Sokka) are now bland and exist solely for the purpose of exposition. In fact, the entire film comes off as exposition, far too much of the dialog serving as "by the way" explanations, never allowing the plot or characters to really take form. The scenes seem episodic and unconnected, and the film never comfortably establishes its universe, always retreading with an "as you know" or "aren't you that guy who…" to establish (often unnecessary) continuity.
The style, too, is disappointing, capturing none of the magic of the series. Most noticeable was the "bending"–while the series took its martial arts seriously, carefully aligning real-world arts with elements and making the benders' movements coincide with those of their elements, the film gives us characters flailing in generic martial arts forms for a few minutes, only to effect one splash, boulder, or blast of fire. In the series, every movement had a meaning; in the film, only about one in ten does.
Many fans of the series who were angry at the "whitewashing" of the cast hoped that it had at least resulted in the best actors for the parts. However, the acting was at best uninspired, and at worst painfully awkward, though part of this can be attributed to a truly atrocious script. Dialog is stilted and unnatural, certain phrases are repeated needlessly throughout ("great library," anyone?), and in all the only chance the script stands of being remembered is through memetic appreciation of its unintentional, awkward hilarity.
Not even the collective will of a devoted fanbase wanting so much for this film to be good could make it even remotely watchable.