I have a love/hate relationship with live action film adaptations.
Hollywood has a long history of taking concepts many people are familiar with, and instead of giving said concepts the respect they deserve in a live action film adaptation, by giving them actual plot, theme, and character development, it's meddling producers bowderlize the stories in an attempt to make them appealable to a wider multicultural audience, and in doing so rob the concept of all the dignity and respect that it should have been given. From Street Fighter, to Mortal Kombat, from Schumacher's Batman Films, To Roland Emmerich's Godzillla, from the Michael Bay Transformers films*, to Shymalan's The Last Airbender, Hollywood has rarely ever adapted a well known franchise to the big screen and actually had it be any good. But there have been major exceptions, like Christopher Nolan's Dark Knight Trilogy, or the Harry Potter Franchise.
But it's safe in my mind to say that sooner or later Hollywood will try again to make a Live Action Last Airbender, or Legend of Korra remake/reboot. But unless they learn from their mistakes, Shymalans folly will happen all over again. So I have composed a list of things Hollywood needs to do to make a GOOD live action reboot of the ATLA franchise.
1. Make it longer!:
The Harry Potter franchise proved that a series of films could last more than just a trilogy, and still be good and still attract a major fanbase and following. and lets face it, putting the contents of seven to eight books into three movies is just a recipie for disaster. One way to avoid disaster would be to divide the plot of each season into three Two and one-half hour long movies each. A big epic series, with a big epic plot needs a lot of time to establish a big epic pacing! Shymalans film failed to do that because he reduced the entire plot of the first season into 103 minutes!
2. Cut out all unecessary filler:
Some of the filler episodes of ATLA were necessary to establish certain characters and plot elements (Kyoshi Island, The Avatar State, Jet) while others were completely unecessary (The Great Divide, The Ember Island Players). In live Action film, time is story, so the less time wasted the better.
3. Make it Darker and Grittier, but keep the shows sense of Humor:
Lets face it, as "Adult" as ATLA was, it was still a Y7 tv show aimed at kids. So despite all the implied violence, Magic Kung fu fighting, Genocidal Warfare, and potential destructive power bending had in the series, it was never really dwelled upon because of the need to appease an All ages audience. In a live action film a storyteller can get away with a lot more. In a Y7 tv show characters can't kill, or bleed, onscreen for fear of traumatizing younger viewers, but in a PG or PG-13 rated film, theres no problem! A lot of older fans would love to see bending taken up to eleven in a film Adaptation. The full destructive potential of Bending, Characters actually being killed onscreen, Aangs uncontrollable Avatar state, and the Eldritch Abomination Koh the Face stealer, are all deliciously violent and scary visuals that I would like to see explored and built upon in a live action version. But at the same time, keep the humor relatable and evenly spaced throughout the action and drama. And remember, if all else fails, hit Sokka!
4. A Good director, that specializes in this kind of series.
Shymalan is a good director of Thrillers, Horror, and Suspense films. But a big budget fantasy film set in a world based on Asian Culture was WAAAAAYY out of his league. They would of been better off getting someone who specializes in fantasy films. A few Recommendations:
Guillermo Del Toro: This guy is great at taking obscure and Bizarre concepts for fantasy films and turning them into something special, I mean, look at Pans Labyrinth, or the Hellboy Series!
Ang Lee: A specialist in martial arts epics, his masterpiece, Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, is one of Brykes favorite films! Then Again, he did direct the shoddy first Hulk movie, so if he directs it could go either way.
Peter Jackson: Hello? King Kong? Lord of the Rings? the upcoming film the Hobbit? This guy is a genius! He has yet to make a truly bad film! I have faith he could make a good ATLA or LOK film.
Zack Snyder: This guy has been known for making the films he's directed SUPER stylized (which the art designs of ATLA and LOK certainly lend themselves to), on top of that he's great at adapting concepts to the big screen. 300, Legends of the Guardians, and Watchmen were Action packed, extremely stylized, well made and entertaining adaptations of existing concepts I think he pulled off really well, if he could adapt a film about OWLS to the big screen and have it be awesome, I have no doubt he could do ATLA and LOK Justice. Having said that, he also directed the disappointing, sexploitation mind-screw of a film Sucker Punch, so he does have the potential to mess up. and mess up BIG TIME.
5. Keep bending Rooted in real world martial arts.
Shymalan ruined it for all of us by not keeping bending the same as in the show. The Earthbenders have to do a friggin dance just to lift a pebble! Bending was meant to be something real, and physical, rooted in the arts and styles of traditional asian martial arts. Not like a music video! (this is secondhand though, I never actually saw the film)
6. above all else a 100% ASIAN AMERICAN CAST!
In a world based off of traditional ASIAN mythology, traditional ASIAN religion, traditional ASIAN culture, traditional ASIAN martial arts, ASIAN cinema, ASIAN spiritualism, i would expect the characters in the world to be ASIAN! Shymalan you racist! I would've forgiven the horrid acting, the crappy script, and the conspicious CGI if you had an Ethnically Asian cast! AND THIS IS COMING FROM A WHITE GUY!** Seriously? you couldn't have casted ONE chinese, korean, or japanese actor? What the heck is wrong with you? Fire nation should be Japan, not India! and the Earth Kingdom, Water tribe, and Air Nomads are CHINESE AND INUIT! NOT CAUCAUSIAN! What really tees me off is the Lack of good leading roles for Asian Americans in cinema, Holllywood simply does not think an All-Asian American cast will sell to a wide audience. So until they realise that ATLA will only do well if the ALL of the cast and extras were meant to be ASIAN! Until Hollywood realizea thatVietnamese, Chinese, Japanese, and Korean Americans need representation in hollywood too, they will not put an asian american in a leading role. So to all Aspiring asian american actors, dont stop until you are seen as equals by hollywood and the rest of America!
Thats it! do all this and i gaurantee a live action adaption will be a hit!
- Okay all joking aside, It may just be nostalgia, but I actually like the Bayformers films.
- Mostly, i've got a little Native American in me, but I'm largely ignorant of my heritage.