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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.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
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.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The only thing I can really say about The Last Airbender is this: Epic Fail. Just how epic? Paramount Pictures gave M. Night Shyamalan $150 million dollars to adapt the popular Nickolodeon cartoon for the big screen. What they got is an absolute mess of a movie, complete with poor acting, the most hackneyed script ever, and a last-minute conversion to 3-D that only serves to destroys what was possibly some lush cinematography. The Last Airbender is perhaps the worst film of the summer, a feat I thought Jonah Hex had locked down. However, Airbender makes a determined effort. Let me put it this way, as good as Toy Story 3 was, Airbender is just as bad. It was hard to find anything wrong with Toy Story 3. It is nigh impossible to find anything right with Airbender. The story is ridiculously complex. In a world where people can manipulate (bend) the four elements of air, earth, fire and water, depending on their tribal affiliation, there exists a being (the Avatar) who can manipulate all four. This person is also the sole being capable of communing the the "spirit world" which serves to keep things in balance. This being went missing 100 years ago, only to be found in a giant ice sphere by two children of the water tribe. In the 100 years the Avatar has been gone, the Fire tribe has begun conquering the others, though we're never really told why. The disgraced Prince Zuko(Dev Patel, the Slumdog Millionaire himself) of the Fire tribe wants to the Avatar so he can return to his family. The Water children need to save the Avatar to ensure the Fire people don't win. For this point on it becomes to silly to try and summarize. Shyamalan succumbs to his own hubris, loading the film with long, boring exposition communicated through long, boring speeches that I'm sure were meant to be inspirational. Instead they are clichéd, burdensome mounds of words that only slow down an already languidly paced film. He heaps some unnecessary narration on top of the exposition, condescending to the audience as he does it. Perhaps the narration was put in to help the film's target audience, the prepubescent b0ys and girls who watch the cartoon, understand where this convoluted story is going. Sadly, it doesn't. The dialogue is so corny, it left me squirming a little. Also bothersome is the ham-fisted way Shyamalan expounded his themes, which seem to be responsibility, responsibility, and the horror of industry destroying nature (lifted with little change from the Lord of the Rings). Seriously, the Fire people sail their world's oceans in giant steel yachts that feature gigantic smokestacks over visible flame. These stacks spew out a never ending cloud of dark, ashy smoke. The metaphor could not be more clear had it just been printed as a subtitle across the screen. The acting is bad across the board. The child cast as Aan, the Avatar, Noah Ringer, a wooden child actor if there ever was one. He speaks his lines as if reciting them of a cue card just off screen. The two Water tribe children, Katara (Nicola Peltz) and Sokka (Jackson Rathbone) are no better. A colleague of mine I saw the film with noted that Rathbone seemed downright anxious every time he was on screen, delivering his lines tersely, with little emotion. The older actors just phone it in. The usually reliable Cliff Curtis looks bored stiff as the leader of the Fire people, while the main antagonist, a Fire general played by Aasif Mandvi, is neither menacing nor scary. He comes off as a schoolyard bully, all bluster and no balls. The only actor I found brought any sort of depth to his role was Shaun Toub (Yinsen from Iron Man). Playing Prince Zuko's Uncle Iroh, he's conflicted between his duty to the prince and his beliefs in the spirit world, something the Fire people have come to consider children's superstition. Perhaps the most egregious error of the movie is the 3-D conversion. 3-D tends to suck all the light out of the images it portends to display, leaving viewers with a murky picture where shadow and light blend together. There are no crisp lines in the film, no real detail. Which is a shame, as the film's setting should've been its biggest strength. The movie travels from an arctic campsite, where the whites should have popped against the bluish hues of the ice and water around it. When it travels to warmer climates, the greens and browns should have been awe-inspiring. It's not. It all looks faded. Much as with Clash of the Titans, the 3-D is barely noticeable throughout the film, and contributes nothing. I fear that Hollywood has cynically latched onto this fad for the high ticket price it commands rather than for any real artistic merit. My only relief was the movie was short, so I didn't get the usual headache 3-D movies tend to give me. I didn't expect much going into The Last Airbender. However, I didn't expect it to be quite so bad. It's like watching a train wreck unfold over 94 minutes. The problem is, that 94 minutes feels like an eternity. The end of the film hints at a sequel. I hope some divine being takes mercy on us all and never lets that happen.
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
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.
I walked into this movie with pretty low expectations. I didn't expect
something as good as the cartoon, I didn't expect a perfect adaptation.
I expected some glitzy action sequences, cheap emotional ploys, just
some fun summer fair.
What did I get? A movie so indescribably horrible I can only shake my head in bewilderment. Believe the critics. The writing sucks, the acting is stiff, the pacing clumsy, the 3-D beyond bad, the overall tone way too dark and brooding. Not much here is salvageable.
Obviously Shyamalan got completely caught up in the mythology of the world and missed the fact that what made the original cartoon so great were the CHARACTERS. Of which there are none in this film.
But really, even just a competently produced film would have been nice. And it almost was. The music was great. The special effects looked amazing, I don't care what anyone says. The fighting was cool. The sets were adequately spectacular. Indeed, it appears the only one who didn't show up for work was Shyamalan. While the adult actors manage to find their way somewhat on their own, the poor kids are obviously lost without someone competently leading them, they spend most of the film in a bewildered daze. Even some of the background extras acted awkwardly. But of course, there are no real survivors of Shyamalan's CLUNKER of a script. I can't believe someone didn't stop this guy. There were maybe two scenes that didn't sound awkward, and they had no dialog. I don't think any film has ever been such a disaster due to one man's gross ineptitude.
Such a shame. It could have been so good.
Just saw this, I don't know what to call it. It was the only movie I've seen where everyone in the theater booed at the end and threw things at the screen. I feel like it was written by someone who can't read, write or care about their or anyone else's work. How do you take something that seemed like such a good idea and make it so terrible. I hope that the man or men responsible for this never get work again. This is what I would hope qualifies as a career killer, because I wish I had slept instead of going to this movie. I want my money, time, and expectations back. As in I expected at least good fun with the 'bending' or fight/dance scenes. I feel like I just got served... Do not watch or let ANYONE YOU KNOW GO TO THIS MOVIE, AND SOMEONE SHOULD PETITION TO CANCEL THE OTHER TWO(three?).
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
M.Night.Shyamalan ought to be ashamed of himself. I went to the
midnight premier of the Last Airbender as a hopeful long time fan of
the wonderful animated series. Less than thirty minutes into the
feature however I realized that my hopes would be dead on the ground by
the time the movie ended.
Over the past few months this film has been surrounded by controversy. The casting choices have caused accusations of racism to be leveled and many fans were left feeling disappointed months before the film even premiered. Now, I don't think M.Night Shyamalan is a racist. I don't know him well enough to make such a slanderous claim. Would I have preferred that the characters in the movie had appeared as the fans had come to know them over the past five years? Of course. However at the heart of Avatar fans, I don't think changing the appearances of certain nations was a racial issue. Simply put, I think people just wanted the characters to look the way they were supposed to look. However, had this movie been written well and had the acting been terrific, changing the appearances of the nations wouldn't have mattered. Because at its heart the story of Avatar is a human story with strong themes of redemption and forgiveness. I think people would have been able to look past their disgruntlement and see the beauty of the story. That is, if the movie had been well written. And I'm sorry to say, it was not.
Naturally, it was always going to be difficult to condense over eight hours worth of animated material into two-hours of movie. How do you choose what goes and what stays in a series where almost everything is interconnected? It was a daunting task indeed. But successful adaption of books, television series, and even video games have been done before. If the works of Tolkien, the master of intricate detail, could be adapted into a series that left a decent amount of his life long fans pleased, surely Avatar: The Last Airbender could be adapted with the same success. Unfortunately, this adaption was far from successful. In fact I think this movie officially joins the list of the most atrocious film adaptions, right along side of the horrendous Earthsea mini-series, the painful Eragon flop, and perhaps the even worse Dark is Rising catastrophe.
So where did this movie go wrong? The better question would be: where didn't it go wrong? The writing was horrendous. High school freshmen could probably manage to come up with a better screenplay. I'm not sure who gave Shyamalan permission to write this film, but whoever it was needs to formally apologize to the fans and to the people who wasted their money hoping to see something worthwhile. The direction was choppycertain scenes made little sense, the camera lingered on other similarly senseless scenes, and at times the camera angles were difficult to follow. The lighting in the film was too dark throughout and when color was added, it was in too much excess. Overall, there was a lack of balance and cohesion in the way this movie was filmed. The plot was a mess. People who weren't familiar with the series would have been left lost, and people who were familiar with the series were left confused. Certain characters that were supposed to do things didn't, lines weren't said when they should have been said, and elements of the plot were just erased entirely. There was no Avatar Roku, only a dragon spirit that may have been an attempt at Fang, but a very bad one. There was no Omashu, no Kiyoshi warriors, there were no refugees at the northern air temple and Aang never attempted to master fire bending. In fact, in the movie he was too timid to learn water bending, which fans know to be a fallacy. And the characters that were featured were not only acted and written poorly, but many of them modeled new pronunciations of their names. I'm not sure of the reasoning behind this. Perhaps the changes in pronunciation were more accurate. Even if that was the case, they never should have strayed from the pronunciations in the series. Fans grew accustomed to a certain way of a saying and hearing a name. To change the pronunciations only led to confusion and distastes. I heard many people in the theatre around me growling in frustration every time Aang was pronounced "Ah-ng".
I won't get into my dislike of the graphics in detail. Appa and Momo were fairly horrendous, the bending was decent but done incorrectly(actors had to make a hell of a lot of movement for anything to happen, whereas in the series each movement corresponds to the movement of the elements), and the 3D was pointless.
Overall, I'd give this movie a 0 out of 10. Fans of the series, don't waste your money. People who are not fans and areconsidering giving this film a chance, use the money you would have spent on the ticket to rent the first season at the nearest video store.
"The Last Airbender", directed by M. Night Shyamalan is tortuously lethargic, uninvited, abysmal, and uniformly atrocious (in every aspect). And that's me being nice! Based on Nickelodeon's beloved animated series (to which I am only vaguely familiar and thus can't compare) is set i a world in which the population is divided amid the four elements (Earth, Wind, Water and Fire) and some skilled practitioners whom can "bend" these elements to their will. Since the elements are naturally at odds with each other, an overall controller is needed to maintain order among the kingdom. This role is played by the Avatar, who can manipulate all the elements and thus can keep balance and peace amongst the tribes. Only problem is this Avatar has gone missing for 100 hundred years. "The Last Airbender" follows a brother and sister from the Water Tribe, Sokka (Jackson Rathbone) and Katara (Nicola Peltz), who discover a 12-year-old monk-child from the Air tribe frozen in a block of ice and his gigantic furry steed (that resembles the luck dragon in "The Never Ending Story").His name is Aang (Noah Ringer), and he, of course is the missing Avatar. Now freed, he finds his home air tribe are all dead and the rest of the world in turmoil. All at the hands of the tyranny of the dreaded Fire Nation. Aang, who never wanted to be the Avatar in the first place (thus why he ran away) must step up, lead a resistance and bring peace back to the Kingdom. However, he must first learn how to control the elements other than air (was imprisoned by an ice storm before he could train). The Fire nation led by Lord Ozai (Cliff Curtis) wants none of this of course and seeks to capture and subdue Aang (they would just kill him but he'd just get reincarnated). Rounding out the plot is Ozai's son, Prince Zuko (Dev Patel), living in exile with his uncle Iroh (Shaun Toub), who also wants to capture Aang and bring him back to his father to win his honor back. Sound like a lot? It is, but surprisingly not as convoluted as it sounds. The scope of the plot, which attempts at mysticism, politics, religion and a whole obvious Jesus angle isn't the problem. Its how the story is told that makes it unbearable. It throws a lot at you with no effect. It fails definition and lacks resonance. Everything is rushed. Characters and story elements are given no development. Take the Fire Nation for example. We are told they are scourge of the once unified kingdom but we arn't shown this. They travel the globe in their ominous, menacing, iron ships and have a mightier than though attitude but all in all nothing that establishes their evil-ness; albeit a later incident with a glowing pond guppy. Because of this we have nothing at stake, no reason to root for the good guys to triumph. Another example would be a big part of Aang's journey. Which involves him letting go of his anger towards the genocide of his people (a scene depicting said genocide would have helped sell the fire nation's douchey-ness) but we never see him get angry enough to make "letting go" have meaning. Void-ness of emotional moments are what really plague this film. I would blame this on the script but the performances are what make it not work. Every actor in this film (minus Shaun Toub) delivers dialogue as if they were reading it for the very first time. Not one thing anyone says carries any weight, none of it resonates emotionally. To say the actors suffer from wooden acting would be insult an to wood. It seem Shyamalan seemed much more interested in the visuals than the narrative (or the dialogue, which is shoddy at best). M. Night manages a few striking images, most of them involving otherworldly landscapes and ornate set design. There are strong special effects and action sequences which are fluid and vivid. Particularly with the fights involving element- manipulation. Winds gusts slamming people around like rag dolls, earth barricades, globs or walls of water and so on are eye popping. The effects are top notch. The hand-to-hand, Kung-Fu fight sequences are well choreographed as well, but a bit too extraneous. Should also mention that this movie is available in 3D and lets just say it's a wasted element (pun intended), an unnecessary afterthought. It wrecks whatever visual grace that might have been (and will give you a massive headache). Though, relatively successful in cinematic aspects Shyamalan, overall fails to capture the sense of adventure. There is a signs of a beautiful journey but it ultimately falls flat. Underwhelming and joyless Avatar: The Last Airbender is sure the be the final nail in the coffin of M. Night Shymalans stunted career. M. Night Shyamalan: Fool me once? Shame on you. Fool me four times? "The Sixth Sense" was clearly a fluke.
First off... Did M. Night Shyamalan even watch the Avatar series on TV?
Or take a glance at it? Also, Dante Basco, the original voice actor
said that he would be interested in playing Zuko, but they made the
cast predominantly white. The show was based in Asia, how do you screw
that up? It was White people, Arabic people, and Hispanics.. Now, there
is nothing wrong with any of those ethnicities (I'm white) but, none of
them looked Asian. If you have seen the series, you'll hate it, if you
haven't seen the series, the lack of plot line and the anti-climatic
story will make you hate it even more: seeing as how you won't
understand what you just watched for almost 2 hours.
This movie was horrible. Don't waste your time. M. Night Shyamalan re- wrote the movie, it wasn't even funny... it's a waste of time.
I hope he paid the actors well, because they had to do a really crappy job for him.
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