Escape to the Movies: The Last Airbender

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omg wtf!? how could it have been that hard to explain? FFS! THEY EXPLAIN THE WHOLE PREMISE OF THE ENTIRE SERIES IN THE 30 SECOND OPENING CREDITS OF EACH EPISODE!!!

I mean, I'll be the first to say that Avatar the last air bender was one of the most compact shows I've ever seen. like I can't think of a single ep I would consider a "filler ep" but too bad! so that just means you have to ignore some bits completely! They do it all the time! how many times have you heard "oh the book was better, they completely skipped this and that from the book" it HAS to be done!

It is such a shame to here what should have been an awesome film and a beginning to an awesome franchise ruined by some technical mistake like that.

Signs was garbage, lady in the water wasn't nearly as bad...

knight of zendikar:

Batsamaritan:
dunno really, i always kind of thought the tv series was americans desperately trying to recreate the style of anime but with enough western sensibilities that the din't have to edit the shit out of the material, so the whole thing ended up coming across as a sub par naruto style show.

but i may check the film out, as i'm not nearly as offended by the casting as some.

Your comparing of avatar to a sub par naruto is honnestly insulting. Yeah it went to reacreate the japanese anime style and it did. In fact it did, it honnestly did it better than alot of jappanese anime. It had very deep characters who actualy had arcs and changed. It had a well paced narative that had many points that were amazing. And it never presented a character in one dimension, especialy Zuko who is probably one of the deepest characters ive ever seen in a cartoon series.

you see firstly, I never felt american animation ever needed to recreate japanese style animation as America has plenty of talented animators whose style i liked... besides for pure enjoyment the early loony tunes (espescially anything chuck jones did) pisses over a lot of modern animation through sheer quality, check out the facial expressions alone in any early road runner cartoon and you'll see what I mean..
I gave avatar a try, I really did, and i'll probably give it another go after reading your response but i'm sorry TO ME (as in my own opinion!) it came across as cartoon network trying to make it's own anime series with all the style of the japanese serials, but without the need to edit it down to satisfy western moral sensibility's.

as for the whole character arc, deep characters thing... the japanese had this in their series for years, I was watching anime 15 years ago that did characters better than avatar, which while i'm sure was reasonable in quality (the bunch of episodes I saw didn't seem bad in that respect) it did not impress me much in any other aspect....

Sorry but I care not if my opininon is insulting, but I do not regard avatar as anything special whatsoever... give invader Zimm or samurai jack a try, animation I really did like.. or better yet check out ghost in the shell if you like plot and character developmen as it leaves most other stuff eating dirt.

misterprickly:
I think Bob put the hammer to this film too quickly!

You see... Unlike Transformers, Hulk, DRAGONBALL and other such movies; this one pays homage to its origins by trying to keep as close to the cartoon as possible.

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!!!!!!

Now that that's out of the way... They can easily move into a sequel that will have plenty of character development; so what's the problem?

I say that this is a great triumph for M. Night Shyamalan and I look forward to the next chapter.

With such a short run time, I think you have to pick who you're catering to. And let's be honest, with the rating a parent will not need to escourt their children assuming the grew up with the cartoon, and even if they do, it's not like it will be the first movie they couldn't care less about that they've been dragged to.

And sticking very close to the source material is a dangerous game to play. Just look at the Watchmen - a movie that almost literally used the graphic novel as it's storyboard. While well recieved by most, many of the fans of the graphic novel were outraged at ommissions, oversights, changes and so forth. Getting "close" means you at least tried but just look through this thread for all the people who assert it wasn't "close enough".

The bottom line here is pretty simple in my book - unless this movie is commerical successful, there won't be a sequel. The decisions that were made will reduce the chances of commercial success. Many fans are outraged, most critics thought it was abysmal and the only hope for success seems to lie in the "Well I loved the cartoon so I have to see it even if it is terrible" line of thinking.

You know what? Good enough for me

HOW DARE YOU, BOB?
'The Village' is a fantastic movie! It's biggest flaw was the marketing which made everybody think it was another 'Sixth Sense'. When you get past that you're able to see how great this thing is.

Alar:
"Giving it a shot" is definitely something I'm going to do. I can definitely understand the problems involved with the "too much plot" when you're taking all those episodes from the show and condensing them like that. Perhaps they should've made the movie longer so they could spread the exposition out a little bit? Ah well, I'll find out when I go see it. It should, at the very least, be enjoyable for fans of the original.

the way bob explains it i dont think it will be enjoyeble for the fans of the original
i myself are a big fan, and the beaty of the series is the little things and the way its all forced into a to short time and that doesnt work:(
sorry for my english

I might as well see it. I'm in an actiony mood.

Assassin Xaero:
Never saw Unbreakable, but The Sixth Sense and Signs were good. After The Village, I quit watching hit movies...

Unbreakable is easily his best movie...

yeah, i'll give it a shot

I was really hoping that this was going to be describing the greatest movie of the summer, making my dreams come true, and presenting me with the keys to the lollypop kingdom. It's a pity because I so wanted this film to work. Oh well. I'll probably just ignore it and stick with the animated series.

Based on Bob's review, and what I've been reading both here and elsewhere, it sounds like they've encountered the same problem that a lot of filmmakers have when they try to adapt the complex narrative of an ongoing TV show and try to retell it in a fraction of the time. I've never seen Avatar: The Last Airbender, but based on what the fans have been saying here, it sounds the same as if someone tried to take all 36 episodes of Robotech: The Macross Saga and tell it in about 90 minutes.

Oh wait! They did.

And from I remember, I had pretty much the same reaction to DYRL that fans of AtLA (or Bob at least) are having with this movie: It's pretty to look at, but otherwise it's a nigh-incomprehensible mess that would really only make sense if you watched the show it was actually based on.

I had no interest before in watching the original Avatar: The Last Airbender, but after reading all about it here, I do now. If M. Night Shyama-lama-ding-dong (my favorite nickname for him) did nothing else, he'll probably make me want to go out and buy the nice first season collection on DVD rather than pay him to see his half-assed retelling of it.

Apropos of nothing: Here in Baltimore we had a filmmaker who went by the name of Francis Xavier. He fancied himself another M. Night, but had even less talent if you can believe it. I once saw one of his movies and I'd still like the 90 minutes of my life back that I wasted seeing it!

I think we can all say that this one is "Not for the fans".
I found it rather rushed; could have use another hour easily to give the audience more time to digest whats going on.

OH... I was wrong; they didn't pull a mario they pulled a Godzilla.

You were very kind to the Last Airbender in this review. Because in all honesty it is a trainwreck. The effects are sub par, the 3D is tacked on after the fact, none of the characters act like themselves.

Seriously. Aang (or should I say Ong) is supposed to be a cheerful optimist who doesn't really want to face his duty as the Avatar. That is pretty much his central conflict for the first two seasons of the show. Instead we have SUPER SERIOUS Ong who gives speeches.

Not to get into the whole racebending thing, but seriously. They couldn't have put Iroh in a fat suit at least? Or had him be even a trifle jolly? Or for that matter, how about NOT having him be a shill for the Fire Lord?

The choreography was poor as well. And Zhao gets taken down by four unnamed waterbending extras who never appeared before, or after, that scene.

This movie is a trainwreck and it's the final nail in the coffin on Shamallamadingdong's career. We can only hope someone locks him away and keeps him from desecrating any other franchises.

misterprickly:
I think we can all say that this one is "Not for the fans".

I find that a very odd idea. Because as an adaptation of the franchise the main audience of the movie IS the fans. Making a movie the fans will hate is just alienating your core audience. Also due to the rushed attempt to cover all the material the only people who will have any idea what is going on, are the fans who actually know the series. People unfamiliar with it will just be confused.

I think we can all agree on what "they" should have done with this film.

***JUST REMEMBER***

It could have been worse!

They could have has Momo talk in a Paul Lynde voice.

image

Or they could have made Appa sing and dance.

Or add a giant robot spider

image

I haven't seen the movie yet, so I kinda need to know... Does it cover the entire series in one sitting, or is it only part of the story?

If it covers the whole thing, then they might've been able to do a much better job by making this movie cover season 1, then having 2 more to cover the next seasons.

Signs a good movie? What the fuck are you insane? Thats on par with war of the world which is also a bad movie, but at least in war of the world we have some eye candy.

Retarded movie, with more than retarded aliens. Its funny how in every movies aliens are much much more stupid than humans.

''Durh durh, lets attack the planet naked, with out bare claw... and if it rain well we all going to burn, but w/e lets do it anyway.''

Bad movie is bad.

What's so bad about a movie critic getting fed to a monster in a movie? That just ads up a special irony and something new to feed the audience.

Whoa.. Bob.. did you see this movie? Ok I'll give you that the cinematography and costumes are gorgeous. But, the fight scenes are slow and boring, which is accented by the shitty special effects that give what should be hard, concussive shots to the body almost no visual impact. All the air effects look like a gentle breeze.

The actors are atrocious all around with the exception of Zuko and maybe his uncle. Interesting? No, boring as watching mud? Yes.

Also, what exposition are you hearing? No one explains anything, they just talk and glance over MAJOR EVENTS that we don't get to see. There's huge plot holes because they don't give any exposition at all. You have almost no clue what is going on (or what went on) half the time. Take the major climax. The fire nation plans to kill the moon spirit so Asif Mandvi kills a fish.... Okay? Yeah, anyone who's a fan of the show will know that fish is the moon spirit and anyone who's been paying REAL close attention to the most boring movie of the decade will know that fish is the moon spirit. But, no one ever says it is directly. There's hints, sure, but it's never made clear. It is just assumed you made the connection.

Also, the editing, dear god the editing. This movie must have been at least an hour longer and was hacked to shit to cut it down to 100minutes. Instead of heart-racing battles we get a couple sentences that amount to "Hey remember when we fought all those people, that was something wasn't it?"

Oh, and this movie wont fix M. Night's career; it will bury it and piss on the grave. This movie cost what.. $150million? It's getting the worst reviews from fans and critics I've seen in a decade. And there sure as hell wont be a sequel to this and if M.Night sells his soul to the devil to get a shot at the Book of Earth, I pray to god he gets an entirely new cast. I don't say that because of the white-washing, I frankly don't care about that, but these kids can't fucking act AT ALL. They make Anakin Skywalker look like Orson Welles.

Honestly, I hate the twilight series, but I'd rather watch Eclipse just so I could laugh at it.

P.S. The first shot you get of the Princess from behind.. her hair has the profile of a giant penis. Yes. This movie has a giant cock in the middle of a big sweeping shot.

To start: this critic sucks. I clicked this video review out of mistake. I continued to watch this video expecting to see a scathing review of the this shitfest of a movie, not a biography of the director. I can guarantee I won't watch another one of this series. That out of the way...
To put it simply: This movie sucked. Don't try to redeem it with "Well it was a hard series portray in a movie!" I pay to go to see movies for entertainment, not to appreciate how much work the director put into framing each shot.

If you want to read a decent review: http://www.aintitcool.com/node/45640

Most people go to Escapist Magazine for Zero Punctuation.

I wouldn't even give it a shot. The movie just was too bad. The second it was over, I broke my 3d glasses, threw them on the floor, and stormed out of the theater. I have never done that before, but this movie was absolutely horrible and I hope it doesn't make enough for Shyamalan to finish the trilogy. Horrible acting, no character development, extremely choppy story, and all around stupidity. REALLY!

This was one of the worst movies I've ever seen.

I have no real opinion on the movie itself as my interest level in seeing it both before and after this review is right about 0. What I do find interesting is that there seems to be a decently sized contingent who actually feel this is a bad review because it doesn't bash the movie hard enough. Usually, it's the other way around.

I know it wouldn't work, for just that reason, plus the character interactions of the tv series was one of the best parts, it just wouldn't be the same thing with out it.

all in all as a fan of the series I dont really care. A side from a few small nit picks, the cartoon was perfect and it never needed a live action movie.

matt87_50:
omg wtf!? how could it have been that hard to explain? FFS! THEY EXPLAIN THE WHOLE PREMISE OF THE ENTIRE SERIES IN THE 30 SECOND OPENING CREDITS OF EACH EPISODE!!!

I mean, I'll be the first to say that Avatar the last air bender was one of the most compact shows I've ever seen. like I can't think of a single ep I would consider a "filler ep" but too bad! so that just means you have to ignore some bits completely! They do it all the time! how many times have you heard "oh the book was better, they completely skipped this and that from the book" it HAS to be done!

It is such a shame to here what should have been an awesome film and a beginning to an awesome franchise ruined by some technical mistake like that.

The biggest problem I had with this movie is that it covered too much. He should've fixed the intro to be more like the cartoon and devided this up into six movies rather than three. Book 1 Chapter 1. Heck, it was like that in the series too with most major plot point climaxes happening at the middle and end of each book. Blue Spirit(Or the Winter Solstice, take your pick), Siege of the North, Great Library, Siege on the Earth Kingdom, Day of Black Sun, & Day of the Comet all would have made great climatic endings to each individual movie. Instead this movies shortening and laughable length results in the Blue Spirit fight and Siege of the North both getting glossed over while the Winter Solstice not even happening instead its details getting crammed as exposition into other arcs.

As an aside, M. Night Shyamalan's three strikes was Signs, The Village, and The Happening for me. Lady in the Water wasn't that bad even if you don't like him self-insert fanficing himself to be a Mary Sue. For me it was still a cute adult fairytale and way better than Signs.

i have never raged so hard at a movie my entire life. what m knight shyamalalaamala did to this film is unforgivable.

Starwarsgeek had it closest, IMO. I like the way you review movies, MovieBob, but I'm finding I disagree with you more and more. I am a fan of the show, but I did not automatically hate the movie as so many others did.

The script was the worst part of the movie. MNS seemed allergic to lifting lines directly from the successful cartoon known for its excellent dialogue and character development. I haven't seen any of his other films, so I can't say about the state of his career.

Why did they push the timeline back to 3 years instead of 3 seasons?

Most of the actors deliveries were stilted and almost mechanical, except Aang's martial arts. You could really tell when Aang and Katara were practicing side by side who was the true martial artist and who was faking it. I couldn't care less about 'racebending', only quality of acting.

Sokka's character was consistent with the first couple of episodes (where he was overprotective of Katara on their dad's request) and the last couple of episodes (where he was smitten with Yue). Whereas the cartoon played his seriousness for sarcastic laughs ,later picking up the verbal comedy, the movie tried playing it straight where it fell over on its face.
Katara's character was completely gutted. Half of Sokka's lines (about 3/4 in the first half) and Aang's big hope speech should have been hers. She doesn't even really step up and introduce herself until she fights Zuko near the end.
Zuko's character was pretty close. He was really only missing the familial soft spot for Iroh.
Aang's character was emo instead of childish. What is it with the entertainment industry making EVERYTHING emo? He came closest when he just entered the southern Air Temple and pretended everyone was hiding from him.
Iroh's character seemed closer to Professor Zhang's than Mako's Iroh. He lacked subtlety, humility, and humor.
Zhao's character lacked subtlety, anger, and impatience. And, I hated that almost squeaky high voice and the circumstances of his demise - where was Aang's giant spirit fish-monster??
Ozai's presence was unnecessary, not to mention his dialogue probably the lamest in the movie; how in the world did Zhao travel that fast to visit twice and still stage the invasion?
Appa was about a size category too small with a mouth 2 sizes too small. Momo was there: that was about it.

Much of the martial arts action seemed conserved to offset them as special, which I feel was a waste for an action movie. I also agree with the others that there was too much time wasted 'prepping' the bending with elongated motions. I agree with the sentiment that imprisoning earthbenders anywhere but an iron rig was stupid. The special effects were nice, but - to quote Yahtzee - what isn't these days? I don't really blame MNS for standardizing firebending to really let Iroh intimidate the way he did, but I also don't think it was that necessary as the cartoon had an awesomeness analogue to offset elite firebenders from the standard army mooks - just ask Mako's Iroh why he was known as "The Dragon of the West". The costumes may have been nice, I wouldn't know, I had trouble distinguishing them from the background, both done in generally dark and gloomy colors. The 3D effects I think peeved everyone off because, for the most part, they were sunk into the screen (as a post production cash-in move) rather than integrated into the full range of people's vision, which is what most people expect from premium 3D ticket prices. The spirit world was nicely done as a setting, but almost flippantly used; in the show, Aang had to be somewhere or do something special to get there. The narration was overdone and in some cases redundant - better dialogue would have sufficed for explanation of what was going on.

I think it's a shame that they skipped the Winter Solstice sequence (which would have showcased Aang's lack of training, Avatar Roku -whom I sorely missed-, and the spirit world) in favor of a Haru-less "Imprisoned". They could have shown the map, an Indiana Jones-esque traveling dotted line, and fan service clips of episode scenes fading across the screen to demonstrate the passage of time, Katara and Aang's practicing, Zuko's relentless pursuit, and the rekindling of hope that the Avatar's returned on the way to the northern Water Tribe (not to mention potential visual Sokka gags and supporting character cameos in the background), instead of just talking about it and cutting there. I also think that MNS was getting ahead of himself by making Aang have as much trouble with waterbending as he does with earthbending in the cartoon - it was unnecessary and time consuming. Also, kids never openly admit they've run away to random strangers (not that I know of, anyway), especially not kids with personal transportation and a culture of wandering; the penguin sledding question would have been much funnier and quirky, even if they decided to have Katara answer 'no' and leave its meaning to non-fan's imaginations. I much preferred the cartoon's version of why Aang ran away versus the movie's.

All in all, this was no "Lord of the Rings" nor "Bridge to Teribithia" nor "The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe", but on the other hand it wasn't "Dragonball: Evolution" nor "Dragons of Autumn Twilight" nor "In the Name of the King" either. It was about par with "The Lightning Thief" or "Eragon" or "The Golden Compass"; movies with serious flaws, but not complete crap.

I am a fan of the series so when someone said they were going to make a movie I was like 'o.o a animated film!? Awesome!' but then when I heard it was going to be live action I frowned and realized it was M. Night and was even sadder. This series which lets face it saved Nick's ass, has been dumbed down by the crappy acting, rushed plot and over reliance on special effects.

I'm on Rotten Tomatoes and people were giving me such crap for saying that I knew this movie was going to suck and well hey I am kinda of sad to see I was right about this one and feel as though thanks to that now crappy director that this series which could have made people interested in the animated series may have in fact drove some people away.

But in the end it is really up to who is going to be buying the most tickets and since a lot of tweens and younger kids (twerps) loved the animated series their probably going to be lining up and making their poor parents pay good money to see this crap and SURPRISE! It's in 3D!.. but not actually since it was 'made' into 3D 'after' the film was done which sucks.

I kinda want to see it but... I think it would have been better if they split it up into 2 or maybe even 3 movies per book...

hmmm Bob seems to be quite forgiving as of late

oh well, there are still some well-reviewed/said to be excellent movies in theater I still need to watch first this summer before I get bored

...tho by then I may be out of money for movies lol

Wow! Double review this week! I think The Last Airbender is good. Bad thing is it ain't my priority. :P

When an action-epic fantasy movie is released in a cut around 90 minutes long, it's because they realised they'd screwed up udirng post-production and cut out everything possible to reduce the amount of FX require and cram in the most screenings per day during the opening weekend.

Oh and M. Night has always been a terrible, static director and Sixth Sense only works at all because it of the one twist, which doesn't even hold up to serious analysis on repeat viewings.

I was with you until you said the Harry Potter series started getting good with the third movie. I still don't understand why the majority appears to be fond of the third movie. I can't stand the thing, and while I'll admit that the third book is my favorite, so I'm probably biased, I found barely anything redeeming about that movie. *grumbles*

Once again: review "Unthinkable." By the way, "Unbreakable" was the shit. I agree with you on that one.

This movie made me realize how much of a geek I am. The actions weren't nearly as good as they could be, considering there was an entire dance routine just to make a rock float, the effects looked really pretty but there was no connection to the physical movements of the characters themselves, making it feel less like a martial arts connected telekinesis and more like some idiot flailing around while super powers happened to bitch-slap all the enemies, the only fight scene that looks as good as it should is the one they show of Aang in the commercials. Nobody gets characterized nearly enough, they butchered the names, oh dear god they butchered the names...

The effects look really cool on their own but have no connection with anything else and the powers weren't nearly as badass as they should have been, the acting was horrid, and they did the opposite thing that comic book movies do and put too much of the plot into the story. I can tell you right now how they should have done it.

They failed to introduce characters I wanted in there, added some nobody cares about, added plot elements that were both unimportant and some that didn't need to be established until the next movie or the last one, gave only a passing mention to the biggest plot element of the entire series, screwed up character attitudes, misinterpreted the tone of the movie (levity) except for two scenes that even the actors seemed confused by it.

I swear I've never found it harder to keep my mouth shut in the middle of a movie theater, and I wasn't doing that good a job of doing so. It's worth a rent, especially for fans, but just because it's so unbelievably frustrating that you're going to have to yell at it. This is the movie that made me want to be a director just to show this furker how to do and choreograph powers right.

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