Well, I've finally decided to watch The Last Airbender, and unsurprisingly was disappointed with most of the movie. But it's not even about the most popular complaints floating around right now. Okay, I agree with most of the comments about the acting. I knew going in that there was no way they were going to be able to make a movie better than the show. And considering Book I was about 20 episodes long they were going to have to leave a lot of stuff out. But it's not so much what they left out as how they transition the story through all that missing stuff. It's the difference between the results you get from say the movie adaptation of "Harry Potter" and ... well, the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy.
Nearly the entire movie was miscast, and I'm not even talking about all the Indian people playing the characters. You know how George Lucas likes to take really good actors and try to get them to act badly in Star Wars movies? Well, Mr. Shyamalan seemed to take mediorce actors and ... doesn't seem to really care about their performances. A lot of the scenes were just poorly directed. Exposition scenes basically became "talking heads" sessions and very often the camera wouldn't even be on the character who was talking, as if the director had no faith in the strength of the actor's performance. I really really hate being "told" what happens or what is going to happen, whether in a book or a movie. They didn't even use visual montages for this, except for a few seconds of showing Aang fighting Fire Nation soldiers, which was more than likely left overs from the first village liberated, we just know they started a rebellion and freed many villages because the characters TOLD us.
Character introductions ranged from not good to no introduction at all! Momo just appears and you don't even know he's joined the group until you see him flying around about a half hour later. In fact, people who have never seen the show will not learn Momo and Appa's names.
And they just did a terrible job during narrations. All of Katara's monologue as well as Zuko's flashback. When there is narration, absolutely no one else talks and a lot of these scenes they talk right over seemed to be completely filmed scenes that I rather would have watched than be told about. But I guess one of the requirements was to give the movie a 90 minute running time.
And that time constraint really hurt the story. All this rushing never gives us any time to actually get to know any of the characters, with the exception of Zuko and Aang, but then they're the only ones who actually get any kind of backstory with flashbacks. We have to make the assumptions that Katara is a compassionate strong willed person with faith, and Sokka is the smart-alecally one with a pure heart. The same way we have to take Katara's word that Sokka and Princess Yue fell in love.
There just seemed to be a lot of lazy directing. Even during "dramatic" scenes, there was no dynamic from the camera, it was just sort of there and things just happened without actual build up. Like when Zhao kills the moon spirit. That whole scene was poorly set up. Iroh was standing right next to him!! If he really didn't want Zhao to kill the spirit he could have just nudged him with his elbow and he probably would have missed with his dagger.
Speaking of miscasting, they really picked the wrong actors to play Zhao and the Firelord. They had absolutely NO presence. When Darth Vader walks into the room you know who's in charge. The best way I can describe these guys and the whole movie is ... bleh.