This movie should win an award! Seriously! The Razzie award for the worst movie/ film adaptation of the year! M. Night Shyamalan has come far far far from the success of Unbreakable, and The Sixth Sense.
Don’t get me wrong. I loved the critically acclaimed animated nickelodeon series of “Avatar: the Last Airbender“. I watched episode 1 of the first Book (season), to the last of the 3rd and final book. Each season contained 20 or so episodes of 20 minutes each. Doing the math, that’s approximately 1200 minutes or 20 hours worth of view time. It didn’t end there of course. This series really grew on me…and I simply loved the story and it’s characters. I watched the entire 3 seasons again in the complete DVD with commentary (that’s when funny little comments or pop ups appear during an episode, mostly of jokes, trivia and side comments.)! I think I’ve made it now clear that I’m a fan and that I entered the cinema with very optimistic expectations, despite the single digit ratings (8% on rottentomatoes.com), horrid reviews, and negative comments circulating around the interwebs.
Apparently, this movie was based solely on the first season, or “Book 1: Water”, hinting that, if we don’t somehow incarcerate Shymalan, he’d probably make (and destroy) “Book 2: Earth”, and “Book 3: Fire” as well. Soooo…what do you get when you cram almost 7 hours worth of episodes for Book 1 of the series into a 1 and half hour movie? You get this…
It felt like the entire movie was moving in fast forward, stopping only at character introductions, shallow dialogues, CGI opportunities, slow-motion takes, and a very cheesy and rather sudden romance between 2 characters. Simply put, this movie was more like a live action Preview of the series then a standalone film! You think watching a bad movie is torture? Try watching one with your beloved characters in them, and see everything they stood for, burn to the ground…and then some.
I entered Cineplex 5, nostalgic. I came out furiously nauseated.
First to catch my mind were the deviation of the right pronunciation of character names. Kitara’s “kehtara” became “katara” (minor yes, but look at the others), Sokka’s “sock-a” became “Soaka”, Iroh’s “Ayrow” became “Eero”, and the main protagonist, Aang’s “aang (long a) became a very unflattering “ung”…as in “dung”…hmm…come to think of it, it’s quite appropriate.
So where do I start? The shallow dialogue? The even shallower and incomprehensible storyline? Oh wait, there was no story-“line”. It was more like “story-dots”, where the audience is given the task of connecting them to make their own line. What about the plot? It’s like a broken down road filled with holes and gaps…hence the “story-dots”. The CGI was so-so, acceptable. That’s all I can say about that.
However, the character development was definitely the worst of them all. There is minimal, if any, development or attachment to the characters, even for me. You’ll most likely walk out of the cinema and forget who the characters were…except of course for Aang, because he’ll come to mind every time you’re reminded of “Dung.”
The movie fails so badly in properly introducing its characters…who they are…why they do what they do, and why they are doing what they are doing…the audience are alienated…they are presented with this strangers on screen. And because we can’t comprehend their personalities, we are left detached, making it hard to connect or relate to their story. You most probably won’t remember powerful Aang, caring Katara, brave Sokka, confused Zuko, wise Iroh, adorable Appa and…the “girl who floated and died”…yup…even I’ve forgotten. Yes, instead you’ll remember “baldy with arrow tattoos that glow”, “girl in blue who can make water move”, “guy from twilight”, “slumdog millionaire”, “uncle of slumdog millionaire”, “big fluffy elephant thing that can fly”, and “the guy from twilight’s love interest who gave her life to a fish, floated in the water and died”, respectively. Sad…very sad…but true.
How would I rate this movie? On a scale of 1 to 10, 1 being Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li; 2 being Dragonball Evolution; 6 being Superman Returns; and 10 being Up, Toy Story3, Titanic, the Dark Knight, Godfather 2, Citizen Kane, Memento, Scarface…you get the idea…The Last Airbender would be a ZERO (0)…Disaster movie would be -1…
If you’re new to the Avatar: Last airbender(animated) series…don’t bother. You’ll come out confused (“What the heck did I just watch??), and regretful of the PHP170 (that you could have used to watch Inception), or worse, PHP200+ for the very messy 3D (because the film wasn’t shot with 3D cameras…so was digitally rendered into 3D)…
If you’re just familiar with the series…it would be better to watch the series rather than getting the wrong ideas about the story and its wonderful characters. And if you’re a fanboy/fangirl …don’t make my mistake and get all hopeful or even get curious about this movie…because it really is a “Insert-degrading-profanity-here”.
Look…I even found the right(more appropriate) poster: