Take it from someone who's literally seen every summer movie that's come out this season - The Last Airbender, despite what you've heard, is not the worst movie out there. Convulted? Sure. Incomprehensible? Somewhat. Rife with bad acting? Yes, definitely.
But somewhere in the footage that was shot lies a good movie based on the popular Nickelodeon cartoon. There are sequences in this film that work. The production values are great. And if you don't see it in 3D, you won't be distracted by the poor conversion and the hassle of wearing those ungodly spectacles.
For me personally, Airbender wasn't hard to watch, and every time Jackson Rathbone uttered a horrible line reading (don't give up your day job in the Twilight series), I just laughed and waited for a fun stunt sequence.
The real bonus of my viewing was watching it with the real airbender - the one and only Jade Quon, who is the wife of my friend and co-worker Victor, and the stunt double for Noah Ringer's Aang in the movie (if the little boy isn't doing Tai-Chi or showing off his impressive martial arts skills with a bowstaff, then it's Jade...any cool running, jumping, backflipping or kicking tail on a hundred ornery firebenders at once...also Jade...actually, instead of watching the movie, it might be more fun to watch her demo reel at http://jadequon.com).
The bad thing is, all of the good elements (and again, there are good elements) have been given short shrift. According to Jade, there was additional great footage of the stunt team and the amazing set designs that was shot for the epic adventure, but somehow, for whatever reason (political or otherwise), this baby's been cut down to 103 minutes.
And that's a shame. If you don't know this story and you're not a 10-year-old boy, you'll be frustrated by the severe editing. Anytime a stunt sequence or a narrative element about the history of the airbenders or their fight with the firebenders starts to look promising, there's a cut to something else that makes you think - what were those cats talking about again? The film makes you want to know more about the TV series, which, from all accounts, is pretty amazing.
I also question Shyamalan's choice to change the ethnicities of the airbender and the two waterbenders who help him, since the project started as a Japanese cartoon whose lead characters were clearly Asian. Not helping matters is that Rathbone and Nicola Peltz, as siblings Sokka and Katara, look mostly out of place and uncomfortable.
It doesn't add up to much, but again, there are the cool action scenes, and unlike my critic friends, I liked the whole airbending vs. firebending vs. waterbending special effects. I also didn't mind Slumdog Millionaire star Dev Patel as the exiled Fire Nation prince who I hear develops into a substantial hero character in later installments. The movie leaves it open for those episodes, but if the critical buzz bears out, don't get your hopes up. If there is another one, it'd be interesting to see if Shyamalan can take some of the critical hints and right this ship.
What say you? Are you out based on the bad reviews? Or are you a fan of the series and determined to see what the fuss is about? While I can't totally defend it, I do see this as light years ahead of Marmaduke and Killers and Just Wright. If I'm forced to consume subpar cinema, then I appreciate a few interesting ideas and a little visual pizzazz to make it go down easier.
Guys and gals, the real airbender - Jade Quon!
Seriously, how could the four main characters be anything but Asian?
Anyone who watched the Animated seriers would have wanted the human cast to reflect the fact that this was an Asian concept.
I think toooooooo many of you guys are looking at this movie with 2 much of a critical eye. Of course there were some changes and some inaccurate things. Give it a break! We all know, well at least I did.. This wasn't gonna have the best acting in it.... People ***** about change. Its all politics to me. For example the nightmare on elm street series without Robert E. Or even Bumble bee in the the new Transformer movies... (not a VW bug) Megatron not a gun & so on..
I enjoyed the movie & so did my 7 year old son(Which is what matters) YES ! we watch the cartoon.
Cool effects & fight scenes. It's like when I hear somebody ***** about how they read the book & hated the movie... It's a MOVIE (Interpretation) not the book or cartoon. Peace
Had I not watched this cartoon series with my kids, perhaps then I could accept this movie as not the worst of the summer, however the sad truth is most people who may go to see this movie did watch the series. M. Nighshamalamadindong has such a huge ego, that he figured he could go in and make the changes he made and nobody would care, they would just drop to their knees and worship all that he thinks he is...M. Night needs to find a new job. The only way I will be able to convince my kids to go see a sequel (if one is made) is if the call it "The Apology" and M.Nighshamalamadingdong is no where near it. I mean honestly did he even watch the Cartoon?
Terrible movie by far; a disgrace to the TV series. It forgot incredibly important characters, such as Suki and Roku, and installed more "fiction" than "facts" from the series. Don't waste your money.
I really wanted 2 c this in theaters but from wht I've heard Im glad I dnt go......Iam a HUGE fan of the cartoon series and wld rather by the series on DVD then b upset by the movie......idk mayb I'll just wait till its released in Redbox...then I wldn't b mad about wasting a dollar rather then $9:).....
I'll watch anything Shymalan does so that's why I went despite the reviews. I never watched the show, but i didn't find the plot confusing. I agree it wasn't as bad as all that. There was just this feeling like something was missing.
I thought something was wrong with me because I was thinking that for a 3D movie there wasn't much 3D. I thought something was wrong with my glasses or where I was sitting. There kept being scenes that I thought should be in 3D, but they weren't.
Overall I enjoyed the story. There was a bit of excess dialogue. People kept saying things that had just been said or just been seen. It's a movie not a book.
I think the true greatness of a movie based on "something" (book, cartoon, comics etc...) is that you stay as close to the story (charaters and plot) that you can WHILE making it a good movie for someone who doesn't know the story. I don't know the story and from this boring movie---I wouldn't want to know the story. Judging from the people who sat behind me who are fans of this cartoon...they were definately dissapointed in the casting of characters and other details. Next time I'll wait for the real fans of the Avatar to weigh in before I decide to go.
On the review...Agreed! I had a couple of friends recommend this movie to me. They are now banned from ever recommending a movie to me ever again, EVER! I will say this, the movie was beautiful. But the only thing that could breath even a molecule of life into the stale acting and dialogue is the special effects and cinematography. I attribute those handicaps to the director's choices. (for the record, Unbreakable's pacing is questionable at best--had to get that off my chest) Shyamalan is a good director, but he doesn't seem to be very interested in learning from his mistakes. When or if he does, I'm looking forward to seeing his move into greatness. As for Jade Quon...wtf... she's AWESOME!!!
Sorry jcm8679, I kept wishing that I had to use the restroom! LOL, the acting was stiff and just off somehow. There were a few good moments but it was definitely better that I thought. The movie theater I was in didn't have the best sound quality so I am hoping....that the movie sounded great to all other viewers...the worst movie ever was: The Dark (or Darkness) with Anna Paquin, I actually got my money back on that one!
I actually enjoyed the movie, but I also saw the entire original series - so I already know the whole story. To make a small correction Chuck, Avatar (The original name of the series) was an American creation, done in the style of Japanese Anime. The neat thing was they really did pick a different marial arts style for each of the 4 bending types. I highly recommend renting the cartoon version!
M. Night actually did research and had the name appropriately said per asian languages. THere was a directors comment on one of the websites about it. I and my granddaughter liked it, though I too think something was missing. It could have been so much more. I wish he had not cut out as much as he did. I bet he will be putting out a directors cut with the missing footage. That seems to be the case these days. The directors have to leave out alot of what they want. But, M. Night also said the movie started to be more about the peripheral characters with all that footage and he wanted this one to be about Ang. I actually the the boy who played Ang did a pretty good job considering he is not an actor and they found him on the internet.
Did the producers even watch the series and do some research??? The Water fight was competely WRONG, Aang does NOT just make a big wave to scare off the fire nation, he turns into a somewhat fish like creator that demises all the firenation warriors. But if they couldnt do that right, could they have at least even pronounce the names correctly?!? Wow, i also cried on how disappointed i was, i an a huge fan but this was so wrong they shouldnt even have done a movie and LEFT it a GREAT series!!!
I enjoyed it. My kids ( all older teenagers) say they missed some stuff but being we all LOVE M. Night he is forgeiven and they hope to see some of what was missing in a future installment, please. Rahtborne is better as a vampire though.
J de la Mancha
I wholeheartedly agree with your ideas. The movie had some great moments but seemed to be forced to move to fast. The thing about M. Night Shaymalan movies I love is the quiet character moments. The moment when Katara and Aang are practicing in the Northern water tribe is awesome. So are all the flashback moments, which were my favorite part of the movie. Added up they were like maybe 2 mins total, but they did such a great job of building his love of his mentor and life before he was frozen. I also thought all the fighting scenes were awesome.
My biggest problem with the movie is that the entire bending construct is made for 3D and they didn't use it. The computerized special effects should have been engrossing, instead of flat.
Other than that, it was a 10 year old's movie. My ten year old liked it. My wife appreciated finally understanding the series (our older daughter loved it). But it was so "meh." Which was really sad.
I really don't get it.
Maybe, that's MAYBE, if you've never seen the show, this was an OK movie at best, or if you're one of the kids that seem to be quality-impaired, it might even be great... But to a die-hard fan, SIMPLY AWFUL...
I've watched every episode, seen all the special features, watched all the episode commentaries, even shelled out the $ for the new double-dip edition of season one with the sweet half-hour documentary. I'm pretty hardcore when it comes to this series, but this movie is GARBAGE. Terrible script, terrible acting, horrendous pacing, and horrible direction; he sucked the joy, the heart, and the soul out of this movie. The look and effects are the only things he got right, but it's just window dressing... >_<
This kind of reminds me of Eragon. Great story to begin with, lot's of excitement and anticipation yet when the movie is released, you walk out of the theater completely disappointed and just plain ticked off. Well in the movie industry, I guess it's bound to happen that way sometimes. But it still sooooooo frustrating when it happens!!!
Hm, Avatar: The Last Airbender was a Japanese cartoon? Sorry, but it was created by two of the whitest white boys out there, Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko. Although cited as "executive producers" on the movie, these two really ought to have fought to bring more of the "fun" of the TV show into the movie.
That said, I agree that Sokka and Kitara should have been cast better. Why the rest of the Southern Water Tribe appeared to be Inuits (accurately in my opinion), and S & K (and GranGran) were Caucasian is one of the more bizarre discrepancies of the movie.
Thanks for the article. Airbender has its faults, true, but it was still an enjoyable family outing. I REALLY wish the scenes Jade mentioned had been included!
I go to different types of movies with different expectations. I didn't go to The Last Airbender for elegant writing or legendary acting. Those things are missing, but I hadn't showed up for that. I wanted to be told a story. The film succeeded for me on that level, and I enjoyed it very much. The good things were more than worth the price of admission, and I didn't mourn what wasn't there. As Good Things go: I always like seeing what Industrial Light and Magic serves up. I like martial arts film techniques, and I appreciate good fight choreography every bit as much as good dance. I thought the costume design was charming and succinct in its symbolism. Could the film use improvement? Sure. But a fine night at the movies nevertheless.
I just think it was just horrible of Mr Shyamalan to not cast asian actors in the movie. The stunt double is asian and the cartoon charactors were asian. The pool of very talented actors doesn't just stop in the west. And you don't take an established storyline and decide to change how names are pronounced to fit your own ego reality. Give the exscuse that it's the realstic pronunciation of the real Japanese alphabet. This is a fictional story that is based off a visual creation already established in how the creators want it to sound like or they would have already decided differently. Hopefully Mr Shyamalan will realize it's not about his ego as his stock falls in Hollywood for making movie bombs and starts thinking about the fans.
I actually cried! It was that bad lol....
I've been thinking about this one more, and I come to the same conclusion - yes, The Last Airbender is not a 'great' movie or even a 'good' one, but it has elements that work, and I'm not sure the younger demographic would even say it's bad. Trust me on this, there have been worse movies released this summer. I would go watch the second Airbender movie to see if M. Night could improve in the next go round...and seeing the grosses, wow, maybe he will be given that chance. Good to hear from everyone! And yes, Victor's a lucky man to be married to the real airbender! And I thank him and Jade for allowing me to see it with them, and to everyone else who came out for it! Cheers and woohoos!
Chuck, exactly what I was thinking. The movie is a okay, with some cool stuff intertwined. Everybody doesn't seem to understand is the fact the movie it's based off a cartoon. C'mon now, I spent that whole 1st weekend defending against all the hate for the movie / M. Night. Everybody seemed to be comparing it to the LOTR movies, titanic, avatar, godfather, etc, and any other movies they consider to be amazing. Um yeah -_- If you want to see (for example) LOTR acting, camera work, etc., guess what, go watch the LOTR movies.
Avatar: The Last Airbender is most definitely NOT the worst movie ever made, as so many people claim.
Chuck I saw the movie and I appreciate the good gesture but come on, the movie was horrible!! i was so dissapointed that i wanted to cry. I thought that the movie had everything to be one of the best blockbuster summer releases but boy was i wrong. I left the theather feeling empty and sour, i knew that had cut out scenes, although i dont know why they would do that, believe me i know ppl would not have mind if the movie was 2 and a half hour long or more.I really hope they make a sequel and learn from their lesson this time.
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