This is the point by point movie review of “”The Last Airbender by M.Night Shyamalan. If you haven’t read the review preview, you may want to, as it will add some background to this review. That being said, I was skeptical how a 1 1/2 hour movie could contain the magnitude, the masterful storytelling, and the charm of the first eight-hour long season. In short, it couldn’t. “The Last Airbender” is nothing compared to the show, however in the interest of being fair, I will match a good point with a bad point as long as I can.
****************Warning!! questionable language is used! Contains Spoilers!****************************
Good: The intro that mirrored the show. Although it was short before ruined by the narration, it was a nice homage to the cartoon
Bad: The script. The story was OK; it mirrored that of the first season well enough. Besides a few things I will get to later, I don’t have much issue. But M.Night wrote the WORST dialogue in a movie I have seen. At times it was good, but the good parts just emphasized how truly awful the rest was. It was repetitive and unconvincing.
Good: I really enjoyed the scene in the movie where Aang goes to the Northern Air Temple and gets captured, and then saved by the blue spirit. It differed from the show, but was done very well. The scene was also a good example of how something can differ from the source material and still retain the dramatic effect of the original.
Bad: The mispronunciation of people’s names and things. Who the fuck in Ong? Who the hell is Earo? What’s an Ovatar? What’s an Agnie Key? No, these things are not the right names, and why M.Night had them say it differently is a mystery. It was incredibly distracting.
Good: Near the end when Zukko captured Aang and Aang is waking up, we hear Zukko talk about his relationship with his father, sister, and other relatives. In the show it was a little fuller, and the movie did it well, although more would be appreciated.
Bad: The casting of Kitara and Sokka (and Gran-Gran, who by the way, they never refer to her as, only grandmother, again, why?). Casting has been a subject of controversy for the film, especially the casting for Aang.I don’t really have as big a problem with Aang as the other two characters because the kid looks pretty good as Aang, despite his mediocre-at-best acting talent. Sokka and Kitara, on the other hand, were just distracting. How are you gunna make a movie where the source characters are supposed to come from an Asian based-world (the water tribe was obviously based on Inuit culture), yet use actors who are as white as Wonder bread? I don’t see the point in changing it, and it was just distracting to the rest of the movie. If they were good actors it would be different, but the two were terrible.
Good: The Fire Nation: Having the Fire Nation change from Japanese-based to Arabic-based was alright. Technically the Middle East is a part of Asia so it fits the pattern. Zukko was good, Iroh was good, Zhao was good, The Firelord was good, and the brief Azula was good. It fit really well.
Bad: They showed the Fire Lord. For those not familiar with the show, it may not seem like a big deal. However, in the show, they did not show the Fire Lord’s face until the last season, thus creating more dramatic effect building up to the the moment of the reveal. May seem like nit picking, but I feel like it was a big deal
Bad: Having Aang leave because “he couldn’t have a family” doesn’t make sense. 1. Typically speaking, monks don’t have families, so why should it make a difference? 2. Avatar Roku had a family; Zukko is his decedent, thereby tying his and Aangs fate.
Good: The ending with the Fire Lord and Azula, it almost mirrored the shows ending perfectly, and it was exactly what I wanted, however, it should have been an after the credits.
Bad: Appa and Momo were not utilized; they were barely in the movie at all. In the show they have very strong characters and are usually just as entertaining as the people, and often are my favorite characters in a scene.
Good: The look. Things looked right, and that’s important.
Bad: The Earth Kingdom prison camp on land. Doesn’t make sense, it’s a prison of earth benders, why would you keep them on land? In the show, they are in the ocean.
Mixed feelings: Fire benders needing source fire to bend. Initially I was pissed because in the show they can create it. However, it does make sense. Water benders don’t create water; earth benders don’t create earth, so why should it be any different with fire? It’s alright.
Bad: Little things, like saying Iroh’s siege on Ba Sing Say was only 100 days. No, it wasn’t. Saying Airbender’s got tattoos by meditating, no they don’t.
Good: The scene where Zhao and Zukko first confront each other, it differs than in the show ( in the show they have an Angnie Kai) but it again shows how it can differ from source material and still retain what it is supposed to.
Bad: The beginning of the movie. The first half an hour was painful to watch. The dialogue was bad, the acting was bad, and the pace was bad.
Good: Having referred to as Book One: Water
Bad: The special effects were pretty terrible, the water didn’t make things wet, the fire didn’t look like it could burn. Why it looked so shitty, I don’t know. Wanted to save some money, I guess.
This movie is not a good movie. The show is an excellent show, phenomenal even. It is a shame that M.Night was chosen as writer and director, he obviously was out of his element, and why the studio gave it to him is beyond me, especially since his last two movies (Lady in the Water, The Happening) were realllllly bad.
And again it really is a shame, because it COULD have been an excellent movie, as it deserves to be.
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