So I was frantically searching for a movie to add to my Netflix queue when the lone, pitiful movie already in it had the “very long wait” message conveviently slapped onto it, and I decided, “Hey, since I really dig the music from The Last Airbender and I haven’t seen the movie since seeing the entire series then why not watch it again? Who knows, maybe I’ll catch something new?” So I did. I stuck the Blu-ray version at the top of the queue and a day or two later it came to my parents’ house. My 14-year-old sister wasn’t too excited about watching it but my dad and brother were willing and ultimately we all sat down to watch it, the four of us.
So what did I think? Upon seeing the movie in theaters on opening weekend, I was extremely disappointed. I really don’t get disappointed by movies but The Last Airbender didn’t do anything for me at all. I wasn't an Avatar fan at the time since I had just started watching the series and was most of the way through the first season. That didn't seem to affect my opinion of the movie, however. I thought the music was great, and the title sequence was really cool, but that was about it. Upon seeing it for a second time, this still basically holds true, but I’m really glad I watched it again. My siblings and I had a good laugh at some of the lines, and a couple of the more cinematic moments even gave me goosebumps, but overall the movie was executed very poorly. Here's my analysis of the second time through The Last Airbender.
The film is a marvel to look at, I enjoyed taking in the scenery and visual style of all the wide shots despite Shyamalan’s awkward filming style. As I said above, the opening titles are exceptional, and it’s unfortunate that a film with such an epic intro could be so disappointing. The beginning martial arts sequence perfectly captures the essence and elegance of martial arts and the great classic films that feature them. The altered Paramount logo effect is high-class, and the giant swooping letters of the title add a nice preliminary thrill. The music is top-notch, although somewhat repetitive, but there doesn’t seem to be any cues shared by both the film and the TV show from what I heard; I could be wrong. But I tell ya, if they decide to use pieces of “Flow Like Water” in Legend of Korra, I’ll be a happy man! Uhh, let’s see…da da da da dahhh, oh, Seychelle Gabriel—also a marvel to look at ;). What else? Oh! There’s this real cool featurette in the special features called “Origins of the Avatar,” which is an 8-minute-long interview with Bryan and Mike, and while this plays they show a bunch of really cool stills of characters from the animated series in ultra-high def! Such as several individual shots of Gaang members doing action poses (OMG @the ones of Katara especially! I was like, “Where can I get these!?” Truly a marvel to look at…). So yeah, and there were a few deleted scenes including a hilarious one where Aang talks to this crazy fortune-teller lady, plus a gag reel.
I’ll admit, there are people who will defend this film to their last breath, but most people agree that The Last Airbender, subject matter and aesthetic content notwithstanding, was a poorly put-together film. It was a Nickelodeon film, not that that makes a movie inherently bad. Most Nick films are actually pretty good. Let’s name a few: Rango, Series of Unfortunate Events, Nacho Libre, cartoon spin-offs like the Spongebob and Jimmy Neutron movies. Obviously this is an irrelevant fact. However, one might ask, why wasn’t this movie more like Rango? Or at least Unfortunate Events? Rango was actually rugged, and pushed the limits of the PG rating. Events was also edgy, and it was very coherent, though not perfect. This film spontaneously jumps from one segment to the next with little more than a few words of dialog to tie them together. Most of the exposition is told and not shown. And it is told rather awkwardly in most cases. One of the scenes is simply a constant back-and-forth between the same shot of Katara and Sokka and an insanely up-close shot of Aangs face for at least a dozen consecutive cuts! This is one of the most important scenes in the movie and it looks like a child mashed it together! I don’t know if Shame-man was trying to implement a distinctive artistic style or what, but whatever it was, it looked amateur. Also, as my own personal preference, they could’ve made the battle more realistic. The Water Tribe warriors and Fire Nation soldiers sparred for quite a while before Aang and Co. saved the day. You’d think there’d be more than just a few bodies of dead and wounded lying on the ground. Don’t give me the, “Well, that’s too violent,” argument because Disney wasn’t afraid to have dramatic battle sequences in the Narnia movies, and I don’t see how this is any different.
I don’t know why I’d bother going into all these things…I mean, the movie got a 20 on Metacritic—what more explanation could you need. I’m not going to complain about the animals, as some people do, however. I thought Appa’s and Momo’s presence throughout the film was thoroughly maintained. I even noticed Dee Baker’s familiar chirping sounds as the voice of Momo. The creatures looked good. The Komodo Rhino thing is often maligned because it doesn’t have a horn on its nose, but who cares? It’s a giant Komodo dragon. They may have called it a rhino in promotional material but it’s really a DRAGON! If they didn’t wanna put horns on it, that’s fine—then it’s JUST a DRAGON—completely made up for the movie, sorta like that other dragon (Boy, what was that all about?). Whatever. Bad dialog, bad casting (or something), you know the mantra.
I’d compare The Last Airbender to a cheap sports car, nice to look at (like Seychelle Gabriel), even kinda nice to take for a ride (as in WATCH THE MOVIE you perverts! PANA!*), and it has a nice stereo system. Other than that, it’s relatively weak, light, and unreliable: The plot is poorly delivered, the characters are one-dimensional, and you won’t get a whole lot out of it—YMMV. It contains many of the elements you’d expect from a summer blockbuster, but still has a weird, Eragon-esque, B-movie feel to it. It’s probably just M. Night’s directing. I distinctly remember being surprised to see he was directing a big-budget film when I first saw the teaser for TLA. The Happening? Lady in the Water (My older sister called it the worst movie she has ever seen.)? Something just doesn’t jive here. I knew letting Shammy touch an existing IP was a bad idea. Just watch this and it will tell you all you need to know. But, in the end, like an annoying friend from high school who you haven't seen in ages, it was good to see again (especially the new features, PAMA**). It's an odd feeling, but it reminds me of a movie review of Sucker Punch I watched where the reviewer hated it but actually kind of recommended seeing it. As an overall movie, he gave it a 2/10. As an experience, he gave it an 8.5/10. It's a similar concept with The Last Airbender. Finally I leave you with a parting message of great tidings and good wishings:
…IF THEY HAD JUST CALLED HIM AANG, ONCE!!....
(*)Previous Analogy Not Applicable
(**)Previous Analogy May Apply
Well, I hope you all enjoyed this blog entry. Go ahead and comment to your heart’s content. I’ll listen to whatever you have to say. Thanks for reading! OKbye!
- ↑ "The Last Airbender (2010) Critic Reviews," IMDb.com: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0938283/criticreviews
- ↑ The Fine Bros. "50 Movie Spoilers of 2010" Youtube.com: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bzcV_LjRZak
- ↑ Rallis, Peter. "SUCKER PUNCH REVIEW!" Youtube.com: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DPMXq-2mAH0