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In just one week, Monday January 21, The Last Airbender movie will premiere on cable television on Nickelodeon, shown twice at 6-8pm and 8-10pm. The movie is no longer streamable from Netflix and Epix since last week, likely to ensure a higher audience turnout. Nick has also been promoting this event with TV commercials:
Nick is of course looking to maximize revenue from advertisers (and demand may have exceeded, as originally they intended to show it only once at 8-10pm). Most film fans like me have seen and bought the movie, and haters won't watch it anyway, so the primary target audience are those who have not seen the movie. I am more interested on the advertisers, which I suspect to include the After Earth movie starring Will and Jaden Smith, and promos for the upcoming The Last Airbender: Legend of Korra. It is possible that this is a prelude to the announcement of the sequel The Last Airbender 2, which may or may not be directed by M. Night Shyamalan. But I rather not get fans' hopes so high (or crush haters') and prefer to discuss that on my other blog. As a precedence, when another Paramount movie G.I. Joe: Retaliation was originally due to be released on June 29 2012, the first movie G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra premired on television on Feb 4 2012, just to get the promotional ball rolling for the sequel.
That Monday is also Martin Luther King, Jr. Day for 2013, a national holiday. It seems totally fitting to me, though I understand that many of you may find inappropriate. I see this movie as having a diversifed cast, especially with story that centers on Aang, played by an actor of Native American heritage, another parallel story on Zuko, played by an actor of Indian heritage. If you find "cultural cross-dressing" offensive, then I can only ask of them "not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character." Otherwise, let us agree to disagree.
The responses I see on twitter is range from utmost excitement to outright disgust. If you are looking for a reason not to watch it, feel free to pick from many, including the creator's advice to Dante Basco. Otherwise, I can tell you that if you are not offended by the changes, the adaptation is a lot closer to source material than movies with more stuff to gut out like X-Men, Spider-Man, The Avengers, Batman, and yes, even Dragonball Evolution. Some things to watch out for fans of the original series who have not seen the movie:
- The pronunciation for some names were changed from American English: Aang (ɑːŋ), Sokka (Sōka), Iroh (ɪˈroʊ), Avatar (ɑvətɑr), and Agni kī Duel (अग्नि की डूएल). Some characters like the Dragon Spirit pronounced "Avatar" the same as the original series. If you must nitpick, it is AHNG. Not ONG, UNG, AWNG or UUNG.
- Firebending require a source, which they have to bring around if they step out of the Fire Nation. The strength of fire depends on the fuel not size of the flame. Burning 1 ml drop of oil per second is about 35,000 W of heat, but depending on physical activity, a human body only output from 70 W to 870 W, which is not enough to cause a third-degree burn but enough for Zuko to slowly melt the ice in the movie.
- To balance the above with airbending, since air is "everywhere", airbending require a source of wind power to move air, similar to Wind Release in Naruto. Aang can use his staff to build up wind power when surrounding wind is limited. Aang is able to escape by drawing wind draft from a ship door left open behind Zuko, but Zhao made sure Aang is imprisoned deep inside the temple when captured.
- Iroh performed a simple test with three objects, to see which of four elements a person is able to bend. A bender will only pass one of the test, so when Aang passed two of the test, Iroh and zuko looked at each other, then proceeded with the other two test just to be sure.
- Each bender has a "home advantage", i.e., resides and dominates in an area surrounded
by his bending sources. The Fire Nation is able to upset this balancing equation when they are able to forge their war machines from metal, allowing them to overpower other benders on their own turf.
- The concept of Avatar is fusion of Hinduism and Buddhism like the show, but use Hinduism reincarnation rather than Buddhism reincarnation, i.e., the incarnation of "the same soul" instead of "a stream of souls." Aang is revered as a god manifested in a mortal form, which is closer to Sanskrit definition of Avatar.
- The Dragon Spirit character is a composite of Roku, Koh, Fang, and Pathik. Maybe even Wan Shi Tong.
- Seychelle Gabriel plays a composite of Yue and Arnook, functioning as both Sokka's love interest and the head of state.
- Zhao is merged with Ozai, i.e., as "Ozhao" played by Cliff Curtis, and also spun-off as "Zhao Jr." played by Aasif Mandvi. This is similar in Batman Begins, where Ra's al Ghul is merged with Henri Ducard, played by Liam Neeson, and spun-off as a decoy played by Ken Watanabe.
- The Avatar State mechanism is based on Chakras from The Guru episode, so there is a specific emotional block to tap into immense energy of each chakra. Just like in that episode, Aang has flashbacks of guilt when he tries to use the "Power of Water", which prevented him from safely waterbending on god-like levels.
- The intricate tattoo on Aang was Bryan Konietzko's idea.
- Katara DOES have her hair loopies; it is just tucked a little higher above the ears than her animated counterpart had done towards the end of Book 3. Real-world Inuit do not use such a fictional hairstyle for practical reasons: the "loopies" in like in Book 1 would require lots and lots of hair gel, while the "danglies" as attempted by hairstylist Ivana Primorac obsructed Nicola Peltz's vision.
- Sokka's characterization was closer to his depiction in the pilot, and in the episodes "Jet" and "Bato of the Water Tribe". I welcome this "grounded" version because Katara respects him more like a big brother, and he is more of a formidable fighter.
- The only person who moved a pebble in the movie is the Earthbending boy.
- The Imprisoned episode was simplified: the Earthbenders were placed a lightly guarded prison camp with the means to escape literally right beneath their feet as Aang noted, but refused to fight since their spirit were already broken.
- Earthbending father: "Fire Nation sent soldiers. We fought them and defeated them. Then they sent their machines, huge machines made of metal. There was nothing we could do. Those who could not bend were allowed to live in peace, if we were imprisoned."
- Despite claims of "yellowfacing", no white actors were cosmetically made to look like Asians as done in the Cloud Atlas movie. However, many actors were dressed in a fusion of cultures that do not correspond to their real-world heritage, i.e., "cultural cross-dressing".
- The Four Nations are cast around the leads for Team Avatar.
- Air Nomad are cast with "all ethnicities" because Noah Ringer (who is of an American Indian heritage) looked "mixed" according to M. Night Shyamalan.
- Northern Water Tribe are cast with whites including immigrants like Kanna, Sokka and Katara, with an exception of Seychelle Gabriel for Princess Yue due to her royal blood status.
- Southern Water Tribe are cast with Inuit extras from our North Pole.
- Earth Kingdom are cast with East Asians due to Jessica Andres as Suki (Filipino) and Isaac Solstein (Korean) and included blacks as well.
- Fire Nation are cast with dark-skinned people like Dev Patel (Indian), Shaun Toub (Persian) and Cliff Curtis (Māori).
- Suggestions that Fire Nation represents a Chinese version of colonial empire were deliberately removed.
- Written Chinese was substituted with fictitious symbols, a similar action in the Red Dawn movie, which digitally altered Chinese symbols and dialogue to Korean to maintain access to China's box office.
- Chinese elements in Fire Nation armor were substituted with Japanese elements, which necessitates the Samurai armor for Kyoshi Warriors changed to kimonos infused with other Asian elements.
Enjoy the movie. Or not. Share your experiences below!
- ↑ http://tvbythenumbers.zap2it.com/2013/01/23/monday-cable-ratingscatfish-wins-night-teen-mom-2-wwe-raw-pawn-stars-love-and-hip-hop-more/166162/
- ↑ http://tvlistings.zap2it.com/tv/the-last-airbender/MV002578250000
- ↑ https://twitter.com/nickandmore/status/287695090921639936
- ↑ http://that-figures.blogspot.com/2012/02/news-gi-joe-rise-of-cobra-us-tv.html
- ↑ http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=XcRPQcc0vU0C&pg=PA22&lpg=PA22&dq=human+heat+watts+exercise&source=bl&ots=EbAr9nn_XJ&sig=lbTKS6aJfgwnWGL5M8NU_oLy3iU&hl=en&ei=CweVTZP5BYTNswaXm8m-CA&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=3&ved=0CDEQ6AEwAg#v=onepage&q&f=false
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