Wednesday, July 7, 2010

The Last Airbender

I recently just saw the movie based on the popular nicktoon "Avatar: The Last Airbender." Let me be the first to say that this movie is vastly underrated by others. It is a great movie, Now it does have flaws but none of them are deal breakers in my book. Especially when you keep in mind that this movie is intended for younger audiences. There are a few things that will take people by surprise, and these were explained in an interview with director M. Night Shayamalan. One major thing that differs between the show and the movie is that in the movie the names are pronounced correctly whereas in the cartoon they are not.
I actually heard people complaining the reverse. No offense intended (well maybe a little) these people belong to the uneducated masses. These were not children either. They were adults. These are probably the same people who think that China and Japan are the same country.
The movie itself had action a little adventure, some romance, and the best special effects so far this year. The actors were perfectly cast, fully embodying the characters they personafied. The story remained true to the original apart from certain things which were not problematic. The Last Airbender movie was basically an abridged version of season 1 of the show. Keeping to the key points of the overall plot while glancing over or omitting unnecessary adventures (things that contribute in no way at all to the plot)
There are a few things that could have been done better: there was one scene where exposition was uncomfortably spouted out hastily and was shot entirely in close-up. This scene should have been a medium shot and with a better paced delivery. Another scene that should've been done better (this is a bit of a spoiler) Aang (pronounced with and extended short a sound) turns to Zuko and says, "we could be friends" and then the scene cuts to something else abruptly. It should have either zoomed out slowly revealing Zuko's reaction or panned slowly to do the same, or even had a close up of Zuko's reaction. But no, there is no shot of Zuko's reaction. Apart from that, I would've enjoyed a more steady calm pace to the production, but again, I have to keep in mind the movie is intended for younger audiences and they have shorter attention spans than I do. (I can sit through Seven Samurai without needing the intermission to stretch my legs.) If the movie was 2 hours rather than 1 1/2 it would've had more time to flesh out everything, as it was, it was a bit rushed at times, but it did manage to fit an entire season into that 1 1/2 hours, and for that I am impressed.
The artistic design is amazing, taking different approach than the show, while still keeping the same themes. Fire nation wears reds and their dress is similar to that of feudal era Japan. Earth nation wears greens and browns with styles similar to Ancient China. Water nation dresses in blues and dresses in both Inuit garb and Norwegian fair. And the Air nomads dress as Tibetan monks with oranges and yellows. The fire nation's ships have a mechanical industrial feel whereas the other ships seen are made of wood as those of the sailing age. Character designs are true to the source material but have their own style. Zuko for instance appears as he does in season 2 rather than his appearance in season 1. Katara's hair is down, and the Fire lord has short hair, which suits the actors. Another thing that may take people aback is that the Water nation are all Caucasian rather than "Inuit" as in the show. The Earth nation are all Southeast Asian, and the Fire nation are Asian-Indian. The Air Nomads are mix between many ethnicities.
While the story may not seem as compelling to adult audiences, remember it is for children and is based on a children's show. The people who complain about it are ignorant of this fact and of the show itself. For instance, I've heard in other reviews that the show was referred to as an anime. Which is incorrect. The show is American made, though it is done in a Japanimation style, it is a nicktoon, written by Americans (hence the mispronunciations,etc) This movie is actually well done, with amazing actors especially Shaun Toub as Iroh. I really do hope that M. Night Shyamalan makes the other two to complete the story. The Last Airbender is a great movie and should be viewed in the manner it was intended. I'm actually planning on seeing it again, and maybe for a 3rd time, who knows. I suggest this movie not only to fans of the show but to casual viewers as well. Though keep in mind, you won't be getting the whole story. For that you'd need to watch the series.
Go see it, now!

1 comment:

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