Escape to the Movies: The Last Airbender

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misterprickly:

YES... the plot is rammed down your throat BUT that was done for the benefit of those who have never heard of the cartoon i.e. THE PARENTS!!!!!!

Truly you have the best argument ever!

"So how should we do this film so that the targeted demographic will enjoy it the most?"

"Fuck the targeted demographic, let's target their parents that don't really care about this film instead!"

Seriously, THIS is your defense of the film? You are actually trying to convince people that it's a good idea to make the most important part of your movie sink several levels in quality just so that you don't have to, god forbid, use some creativity to get the people your movie isn't even targeted at to understand the plot?

And what do you think will happen next? That people will give this awful movie a pass and actually pay to see the sequel? Nope, because by now, the only people who will actually see the sequel are the fans of the original series, and that's only because they feel an obligation to do so.

If you still can't see the problem, then I'll spell it out: Nobody wants to watch the sequel now because this movie sucked. It doesn't matter how good it will be, because nobody cares anymore.

So tell me again how you can believe that it's a better idea to make a shitty film targeted for everyone than it is to make an average-to-brilliant film targeted for the people that are actually fans of the series. Because in the end for both scenarios, the only people still interested will be the fans.

I'ma just say... The first season of Avatar: The Last Airbender was the least awesome, so I have higher hopes for the next two.

The first season was purely throwing in all important characters and making sure everyone knew what was going on then the last 3 episodes were where it became awesome. After that though in season 2 and 3 it introduced less characters and everyone already knew what was going on so it left room for so much more awesome.

meganmeave:
That's too bad. The trailers looked so awesome, I kind of wanted this to be good.

Though, I think Shyamalan's career tanked with Signs tbh. I mean,

the same ones that come to a planet without space suits so they wouldnt die in the enviroment(war of the worlds)
and the ones that have computer systems millions of years ahead of us but seem to be compatible with windows (independance day)

OT:uhh...I might see it when its on dvd but I think I just like the cartoon to much to go see it

I'm in a weird place where I completely disagree with MovieBob and it's the first time I've been here. This movie reminded me a lot of Eragon. It really blew my mind that you said you liked the action scenes because there hardly were any and the ones that were there were incredibly slow. The movements they did should all have affected the objects they were moving. One arm flail picks up the object, another whips it around, another throws it, etc. In the movie they treated the movements like entering a cheat code on a Playstation or Naruto-esque hand signs: up, down, left, circle, X, square, square... then the rock picks itself up and throws.

The fighting was labored because one character would do a lot of elaborate flinging of their arms, the element would throw itself, the the other party does a lot of elaborate flinging of arms, they block the attack. It ends up having one exchange take 20 seconds or so which makes it seem silly that you can't just sidestep this attack that leaves you room to perform a short martial arts display before blocking. The sequence at the very very end where Aang does a little side-scrolling series of waterbending moves is the closest it came to what it should have been like. Duck, whack, jump, midair-freeze-the-guy-in-ice, land, punch, run, splash, spin, blast. All the movements should lead into each other. The whole point of bending, I think, is that the combat is supposed to flow; it seems like waterbending in the least should.

Hubilub:

misterprickly:

YES... the plot is rammed down your throat BUT that was done for the benefit of those who have never heard of the cartoon i.e. THE PARENTS!!!!!!

Truly you have the best argument ever!

"So how should we do this film so that the targeted demographic will enjoy it the most?"

"Fuck the targeted demographic, let's target their parents that don't really care about this film instead!"

Seriously, THIS is your defense of the film? You are actually trying to convince people that it's a good idea to make the most important part of your movie sink several levels in quality just so that you don't have to, god forbid, use some creativity to get the people your movie isn't even targeted at to understand the plot?

And what do you think will happen next? That people will give this awful movie a pass and actually pay to see the sequel? Nope, because by now, the only people who will actually see the sequel are the fans of the original series, and that's only because they feel an obligation to do so.

If you still can't see the problem, then I'll spell it out: Nobody wants to watch the sequel now because this movie sucked. It doesn't matter how good it will be, because nobody cares anymore.

So tell me again how you can believe that it's a better idea to make a shitty film targeted for everyone than it is to make an average-to-brilliant film targeted for the people that are actually fans of the series. Because in the end for both scenarios, the only people still interested will be the fans.

Further, mr.prickley makes the strange assumption that adults/parents wouldn't enjoy the film or be entertained by it if it had followed the original series' storyline. I was 24 when I first saw the series all the way through, and I thought it was a magnificent series.

If a show that was ostensibly made for kids could entertain me (and I'm not particularly easy to entertain), then I think other adults could find themselves engrossed in the series, as well as a movie that had done a better job of following said series.

I've seen most of the first two seasons of the cartoon, and I can easily vouch for the quality of its story. The characters backstories, motivations and personalities are all deep, involving and well played out.
A good series-to-movie adaption follows the continuity of the series, while telling its own story. Trying to squash a series story into a 90-120 minute film means that something is going to give.

I quite liked the animated series so I've been quite eager to see this one. I'm sad to hear it's not all I hoped it would be (...which was quite a lot). I'll go see this regardless and hopefully we'll get a second one. Like Bob said, the costumes, effects and over all setting has translated very well from animated to live-action. Now they just need to get the plot to work as well and we'll be all set.

MortisLegio:

meganmeave:
That's too bad. The trailers looked so awesome, I kind of wanted this to be good.

Though, I think Shyamalan's career tanked with Signs tbh. I mean,

the same ones that come to a planet without space suits so they wouldnt die in the enviroment(war of the worlds)
and the ones that have computer systems millions of years ahead of us but seem to be compatible with windows (independance day)

And the same ones that thought it would be a great idea to take up lightsaber fighting. (Nautolans from Star Wars)

Seriously, if the stormtroopers hadn't gotten to him first, he would've been one bald Jedi eventually.

"hell of a lot better than eclipse"

I think thats taken as obvious, considering that having rabid chipmunks in you bed while you sleep is better than eclipse.

I'm sorry but the only reason I would see this is for that giant flying buffalo, I wish I could think of that.

I seriously LOVED that show. Whatever man, it rocked. But it was supposed to be funny, I mean, while the story and action was far above any other kiddie show on the air, it wasn't meant to be serious all the time. That's why when I heard shyamalan was directing it I got really kinda pissed. I mean, why? First of all: the audience would be older fans of the movie and kids alike, so how does shyamalan fit that? Gotta know your audience man. Second: He doesn't do these kind of movies, he's supposed to be the creative one, not the remake one. That's Tim Burton. Know your material, know your audience, missed both.

I would have to say that this movie is one you will count the minutes until its over, then the last 10 minutes come up you start enjoying it and then its over. Terrible really. Shamala is not a action writer, nor has he ever taken on a TV to movie epic like this. In my opinion this movie tanks because Shamala is one out of his genre, and two his last 3 movies have been less than decent. Bob though seems to like Shamala enough to give this movie pass... Personally this movie needed alot less though provoking explanation and a lot more Micheal Bay movie epics that call for an explosion every 10 minutes and fun characters you actual care about.
If you want a fun action movie go see A-Team.

T.J. Mccabe:

LaBambaMan:

wildcard9:
Bob, care to respond on the recent controversy on how the film has a mostly white cast and the only Asian actor is playing the villain?

As I've stated before, this is the Starship Troopers clause: when a movie is based off a story with a mostly ethnic cast of characters, the director opts to have white actors play their roles. Just like how in Heinlein's novel Johnny was Filipino but Verhoeven opted to have him cast as a white character with vaguely Aryan features (blond, blue-eyed: I have a habit of using that with people with those features, sorry.)

As a Mexican-American, I sympathize with how the protesters are making a very valid point in how we minorities are misrepresented in the many mediums we know and love: film, video games, comics, etc. On the other hand, as a realist: I realize that this is nothing but a shallow cash grab by producers and not so much the director in getting a wide audience to watch said film (IE: white people). So in this case, it's not so much Shyamalan's fault as much as it is Paramount's fault.

Just my $0.02

Really? We're playing the race-card?

It would appear so. I mean thats the norm now days. If you don't agree with the way someone does something or their stance on an issue, you are deemed a biget. Doesn't matter that your stance is a valid one.
....Snip...

It seems more so the norm to accuse someone who presents a thoughtfully argued and well versed dissemination of playing a card or baiting, without backing your argument up. Playing "cards" is a privilege that you have, that not everyone else in the world is fortunate enough to ignore.

More on this later.

I just saw it, and the casting, writing, directing, editing, and cinematography make this movie the absolute worst shit I ever made the mistake of paying $8 to see.

You may remember that James Cameron made a movie called Avatar. It features no children, has Smurfs built like a coed olympic beach volleyball team, and has some stupid eco-bullshit plot about trees.

THAT is a better adaptation of the cartoon than this movie.

It makes Transformers 2 look like Ben Hurr. Hell, it makes Manos: the Hands of Fate look like Ben Hurr.

Miss it at all costs. Don't rent it. Don't watch it on cable. Don't download the torrent.

I wish Yahtzee would review it, just so I could spend 5 more minutes hating it.

cocoadog:
I'm sorry but the only reason I would see this is for that giant flying buffalo, I wish I could think of that.

Appa's barely in the movie :/

Maybe since they got all of the shit out of the way in the first movie, they can get to making a meaningful second and third movie?

It could happen...

Bummer...

Wow Bob that is a lot of greats for a movie that got an 8% on rottentomatoes...I know the meter isn't always correct...but c'mon an 8?!

I won't see it just because I don't want a great series to be ruined for me.

Also, many others critics said the special effects were terrible...so...i dont know.

But I am not risking ruining the series by giving this movie "a shot".

SilentHunter7:

Felis Leo:
I would go so far as to say that it is the best American cartoon series since Batman: The Animated Series.

No offense to Batman, but IMO that should read the best American cartoon series since Samurai Jack. :)

I would also like to add Spongebob to this list. I know that Spongebob is popular and may have been ruined in the later episodes, but honestly it still makes me laugh and is extremely creative.

People who loved the animated series totally bashed this movie. But I am someone who just enjoys the movie for the hell out of it. So like, count me in, IMAX!

"The Narrative is pretty much a complete disaster" - Awww, man!

"Once the damn thing gets done reading its own instruction manual and just gets rolling its dam near perfect. Unfortunately it's also damn near the last ten minutes of the movie" - DAMMIT!

Well I planned on giving it a shot and now I'm completely convinced in doing so. I just need to make sure I make that fake poster about twitard where it says only four big words that Movie Bob quoted long ago..."Mormon _____ Abstinence Porn"...and tape it over a twitard poster then get a pic of it for y'all. If I don't find out what that absent second word is I'm gonna replace it with emo or retard.

I got dragged to watching the midnight release, even knowing that it was going to be bad. WOW, it was worse than I thought.

M. Night, please stop making movies. Unbreakable was good...Sixth Sense was decent(though I figured it out waaaaaaay to early in the movie for it to be a surprise). Everything else you have touched....just sucks.

The script for TLA was atrocious(Shymalan's name is the only one credited for it) with such wonderful lines as, "We need to show them that we believe just as strongly in our beliefs as they believe in theirs!". The editing was too damn choppy, with them hopping from town/country to elsewheres and conversations that came off as just bits of a larger whole.

He also fucked with the source material for some completely irrelevant choices. Why can't the Fire-Benders generate their own fire? That's the point of them, and why an army of them is so unfair. Or when capturing a group of Earthbenders, instead of enclosing them in metal so they can't escape, the Fire Nation locks them in a quarry and hopes, what? That they will use the honor system and not leave?

And finally, my question is this: "Why did M. Night change the pronounciations of names to make them authentically asian for authentically asian characters when he didn't cast authentic asians!"

I emphatically disagree with everything Bob says, and that's pretty rare. Even just taken on its own merits the movie is awful, in every way, every minute. Seriously, I was desperately searching for some redeeming quality, but not even the action was good. Nothing was even decent.

One thing that particularly ruined it for me was how out of sync the bending and martial arts were - these big elaborate dances to perform the simplest tasks of bending, and it just doesn't flow as it should. Even if I'd never seen the cartoon this would have been tough to swallow.

And yeah, all the mispronunciation kind of distracted me as well. Why did Shyamalan change the pronunciation?

For that matter, why did he make the Fire Nation comprised of East Indians other than self-insertion? I know how in the cartoon the world is multi-racial, but the actual races are pretty ambiguous. The only races I could see were how the Water Tribes were vaguely Inuit, while many of the Fire Nation characters were very White and various other supporting characters were clearly meant to look Far Eastern.

My conclusion is that part of what attracted Shyamalan to the material was the multi-race concept, so he took that and without really understanding it, jammed in some very unambiguous racial themes that never actually existed. This alone wouldn't really bother me, and might actually have ended up being an improvement, but the fact that the most pronounced change was to the Fire Nation makes it look very, very much like shameless self-insertion, and in my opinion that seriously harms the director's credibility by setting an important precedent for everything else: Everything is just this guy's weak interpretation of the cartoon, this guy who may not fully understand what he's trying to recreate. It's pretty clear he doesn't know the material very well, because he utterly failed at many of the most important of elements, elements like humor, like relationship building, and most significantly the sense of innocent, whimsical, fun-loving children threatened by a ruthless adult-dominated conquering force. He's got the conquering force, but what he doesn't have are the fun-loving children, because these kids are stiff, wooden, and victimized by the greater problem of just having the wrong mood throughout the whole thing.

So anyway, obviously I'm a big fan of the source material, and as such I'm pretty offended by this garbage movie adaptation, similar to how offended Bob was by the Transformers movies. But even if I didn't already love the cartoon I wouldn't have thought very much of the movie. I see some people at least praising the action sequences, but I thought they were just as awkward and nonsensical as the rest of it.

It all kind of makes sense when you realize who made it. Shyamalan, who never uses CGI, who's never had to choreograph a fight scene in his life. Shyamalan, who's typically best when he's building suspense, slowly building a set of complex and interesting adult characters, peppering serious sequences with some dry, tongue-in-cheek humor.

Like Bob said about Bay and Transformers, I honestly think Shyamalan was just wrong for the material.

At the moment we are looking at the first of what will likely end up a franchise.
There's three chapters to the series, so there's likely to be three films.
(With a possible fourth about finding Zuko's mother).

Let's all rewind back to some super hero films, I'm not sure about anyone else here, but the first spider-man film bored me to tears until spidey actually started doing things.
It was for the majority a lot of watching Peter Parker do silly things...
That wasn't really what I went to see, but it was the 'origin movie'.

The one that most people make so that they don't have to deal with explaining it again in the next film.

Now look at what MovieBob said about Last Airbender.
There's apparently exposition flowing out of every character's mouth most times they speak.
And I'd honestly expect nothing more from a film that's essentially getting things started.
The (proper)Avatar world has an expertly crafted back-story and the characters that fill that world are all exciting and have their own origins, goals and personal quirks and I suppose it's important that they're shown to us now rather than confusing us with it through all the potential films.

And besides, I remember the first series of the cartoon, I'm pretty certain they were constantly explaining things in that too... Sure they had parts that seemed like filler and they had funny and emotionally engaging moments too, but they were still trying to introduce us to this world they'd created and they obviously did it better in the series, but to the series' advantage it wasn't 90 minutes long.

I'll be glad that it was even faithfully recreated, more popular cartoons (Dragonball Evolution) didn't even get that...

I'm not going to see it because I was never that interested in AtLA anyway (I honestly thought it was a parody until talk of this movie started cropping up), but I do take an issue with one thing in this review.

Harry Potter got better with the third movie.

I speak as a biased non-critic who loved the books and for whom the third book remains my favourite of all the Harry Potter books, which is why the third movie disappointed so much. It came close, which is more than I can say for 4, which was incomprehensible to anyone who didn't already known the plot, and 5, which I consider to be in at least my top 25 worst movies I've ever seen, and by 6 I think they were just winging it with no idea what the tone or feel of the movie was supposed to be.

But enough ragging on the rest of the series, the third movie featured Emma Watson's stunning decline into ear-rendingly annoying for me, the practical removal of Ron Weasley as more than 'the other one' to Harry and Hermiones' dream team the movie makers clearly wanted (who knew the directors would be Harmonists?), a plot which left out most of the really key details (they never actually connect Prongs and James Potter with a single word of spoken dialogue, never mention that Wormtail and Pettigrew are the same person, don't tell you who the Goddamn Marauder's were, etc), and was trying very hard to make that jump to 'teenager's film' when the books were stil essentially children's books. (They remain in my opinion books for children, but without the demaning label of 'children's books.') Basically I think the third movie, while not the worst of them, failed the hardest out of all the Harry Potter series, and basically cemented the sloope in place for the rest of the franchise to fall down.

Wow, that's a lot of pissing about HP3 in a comment in a review about Avatar, but like I said, I have very little interest in the Last Airbender either as a cartoon or movie, but that last point Bob made rankled me a lot.

Great review otherwise.

he is being far too kind to this movie. it was an utter waste of time and money. please save yourself the trouble and do not see it. i am not trying to be overly cynical, i honestly hoped and tried to find reasons that i could enjoy the movie and was given nothing.

just go watch the show again, its the only way (other than possibly in book form) that it can be told correctly.

HEEEEEEEEEEEY that opening explanation.. has happened to me. Nightwatch AND daywatch films... =(

For fans of the cartoon:

Edit: Corrected a couple of mistakes

I'm biased as hell with regards to this movie, as I loved the series. I saw it yesterday, and was disappointed. The costumes and all the other technical bits were good, but the overall theme, plot, action and acting was bad.

I think it had two major problems; one was that they chose to do a 400+ minute part in 90 minutes, instead of going the Lord of the Rings route and making a 2 and half hour movie. The other problem was that it wasn't fluid. In the show bending was quick and could cause dramatic effects, while in the movie it's ten minutes of dancing to create a raindrop. The story also just jumps around.

starwarsgeek:
For fans of the cartoon:

This guy explains it better.

Can I just say that The Last Airbender and Eclipse hyave one thing in common!

A common actor Jackson Rathbone!

He plays Sokka in Airbender and Jasper Hale in Eclipse!

and Jackson Rathbone is a very good actor and scince he has got more screen time in Eclipse and Last Airbender has turned out pretty good I expect more good things by Jackson! And I hope so too!

Shyamalan falling flat on his face?

WHAT A TWEEST!!!

I might see it once it comes out on DVD. Though once they come out with the sequel, I may see THAT in theaters.

Just one problem there Moviebob, the third Harry Potter movie sucked and the movie series went downhill from there.
The forth movie had the omission of key characters in plots and the complete bastardization of the final task
The fifth movie was slow and oh so DULL
The sixth movie was the closest to being true to source material since the first two, but still wasnt anything to write home about.

starwarsgeek:
For fans of the cartoon:

That is ... quite disappointing :/ I really am a fan of the cartoon and I was expecting this movie eagerly, despite all that controversy about the casting, but this is disappointing. Dunno, I will see the movie eventually when it comes to my country, but only because we have cheap tickets. I've heard different reviews by now, so I'll try to watch it without being biased, but if all this what you wrote is completely true, I'll be a really really sad panda.

Oh my my. FINALLY A MOVIE REVIEWER THAT ISN'T A BUTTHURT FANBOY. Thank you Bob, I like you so much more now.

I'd tell you to watch it. And if you're a fan of the series, expect to be disappointed at some things. The acting was a bit odd at some points, but it's really only with the younger cast, and their skills should develope over time. And they got the characters looks a bit wrong (skin color I mean), but it's easy to get over, since they still seem to have the same personality.

Hopefully the budget will be higher for the next film, so they can add much more and give the characters some personalty. I'd give it a 3 or a 2.5 out of 5. I was a bit disappointed because I was a fan of the series, but I understand why they had to do the things they did to the movie (instead of whine and call it a bad movie like all the other fanboys and girls).

I don't plan to watch this, and never did, so it's not really that much of a hit to me, but reading the comments it seems Toph wasn't ruined.

....Hopefully they don't get the funding make a second movie

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