Remind me never to ask you people to pick a movie for me to watch/suffer through! Up this week for ‘Screen Savers’ I’ve had the
pleasure nightmarish hell of sitting through The Last Airbender because apparently you wonderful readers hate me!
Long ago the Avatar series was beloved and sacred. Then everything changed when M. Night Shyamalan made a movie…
Avatar: The Last Airbender first aired on Nickelodeon in 2005, it ran for three amazing seasons, spawning graphic novels, games, toys and a beloved sequel. A world of elemental benders, nations of people who could control fire, air, water and earth through intricate movements and fighting styles and an Avatar, all-powerful being with the ability to command all four elements, a bridge between the world of humanity and spirits; a world thrown into turmoil, genocide of an entire people and the world’s only hope has vanished.
The cartoon series became more than that very quickly, it featured a diverse cast of characters all of whom brought deep and powerful personalities and backgrounds, they were some of those most relatable characters on our TV screens for years, Aang, Sokka, Katara, Toph and even Zuko to this day are still some of the most beloved heroes held dear by fans.
So when word broke that a movie was dropping and that a big name studio had picked it up, the internet and the fan base caught fire! Then we learned that M. Night Shyamalan was directing, producing and third strike, writing it too. Joy of joy, the king of twists and flops was taking on one of the most beloved shows at the time… the internet and fan base blew up! Couple that news with the released images of casting choices depicting the heroes as Caucasians and Asians as the villains and the project was dead before it even made it to the cinema.
When it was finally released fans all over the world were left dumbstruck! How the hell did they get it all so wrong!
What made Avatar: The Last Airbender so special was entirely lost in the production of the movie. The movie itself is pretty big, expansive and certainly didn’t scrimp on the budget for CGI but they should probably have taken more time to watch the show, do some research and maybe attempt to grasp the basic the fundamentals of the show.
The fault doesn’t just lie (it actually does, literally all of it) at the feet of the producers, the cast struggled in their roles to bring life to the characters, Dev Patal and Jackson Rathbone should feel particularly awful about their roles. Patal is burnt up by the pressure of trying to play Prince Zuko, a young man torn apart by his past and his future while Rathbone flops harder than one of Sokka’s deadpan jokes.
There is nothing to redeem their performances, there is no diamond in the rough, no one here to pull it together or even hang on to the movie. Noah Ringer tackles our main hero Aang who apparently had a name change as the entire cast refers to him as Ung throughout the entire movie, his inexperience on the screen shines, naivety
You might be wondering what about Momo and Appa? They are the stuff of CGI nightmares! Seriously the loveable sky bison and winged lemur are not just companions to Aang in the cartoon series they’re his best friends and integral characters. Appa is gigantic but a total softie and what Momo lacks in size he makes up for in his personality but in the movie they literally look like genetic experiments gone wrong.
The movie follows the adventures of the first book/season we quickly learn that Aang is the last Airbender alive and also the Avatar. Twenty one episodes of some of the best animation in the last 10 years and it’s bent into one of the worst adaptations ever to grace the cinema screen.
The ‘epic’ battles, the bending of elements just don’t compare to the cartoon, and any fan going in would have their bias but being biased and being forced to watch something you love be butchered, drained of all that it is good and watch that be manipulated for the sake of a few dollars.
Do you remember that episode of Avatar: The Last Airbender in season three where the whole gang get together on ‘Ember Island’ and they learn that there is an acting troupe who have put together a show based on the adventures of the Avatar – it’s shoddy affair, hammed up, campy, low production values and some poor performances. That performance by an amateur group completely outshines this travesty!
The tagline for the movie is ‘Four Nations. One Destiny’, it should be ‘Nothing Like The Cartoon’.
Fans had consoled themselves with the fact the film had bombed so hard it would never see the light of the sequel but as is his nature, predictable Shyamalan has said he’ll continue on with the series because apparently we don’t hate him enough.
Five years have passed and we are still reeling in agony; now we’ve discovered a new Avatar movie is being made….
Editor-in-Chief, part-time super villain and hoarder of cats. If you can’t find me writing, I’m probably in the kitchen!