The Last Airbender Movie Review

Thanks to some friends of mine I became a huge fan of the cartoon “Avatar: The Last Airbender”. I bought the DVDs of all three seasons and watched it from start to finish. I was impressed, not only by the animation, but also by the complex story line and the strong messages it was teaching kids about honor, responsibility, friendship, trust, faith, and love. This show is by far one of the best cartoons I have ever seen and is even one of the best shows that I have ever watched. I thought that this show would be perfect for a trip to the big screen, as long as the filmmaker treated the material with respect and captured as much of the shows perfection as possible.
Before going to see the film that was just released of “The Last Airbender”, I had read a few reviews that tore it to pieces and proclaimed it as the worst movie of the year, decade, and quite possibly the worst film ever made. This really worried me because I love the cartoon so much that I was hoping that the film would live up to the show, even just a little bit. I was also worried because M. Night Shyamalan, the writer, director and producer of this film, is currently in a slump. His past four movies have not been successful and have all been a mess. So, I went in well prepared to be disappointed.
Fortunately I wasn’t as disappointed as I thought I would be. They did stick to the story line of the cartoon pretty well. I mean they had to fit a twenty episode season of about 10 hours into a one hour forty-five minute movie. The issue I have with this movie is that there was no heart in it like the TV show. There was no spirit of adventure, no laughs, no forward momentum. One of the best parts of the show is that the main characters were kids that have been put into adult situations and they have to solve them together, and being kids, they were usually enjoying their adventures and bonding with one another. This didn’t transfer to the film. I didn’t feel any chemistry between the characters and some of the acting was just plain bad. There was absolutely no humor in this film, which is surprising because of how much there is in the TV version. I also really didn’t get the feeling of any danger from the fire nation. The entire premise of this story is that the fire nation is trying to take over their world. Sure, they showed them as the antagonist of the film and they attacked the northern water tribe, but not once did they have me fearing them or what they could do.
There was also an issue with how some of the character’s names were pronounced. I know this sounds trivial, but if the public has heard these names pronounced one way for years, why would they possibly want to change the way they are pronounced? Does that make any sense? His name is Aang, which should rhyme with hang. Am I wrong here???
I really hope that the other two films in this trilogy are made. This story is amazingly told in the incredible cartoon that was aired and it deserves to get an equally amazing movie trilogy as well. Hopefully the studio will let the next film be written and directed by people that truly respect the material and who wants to provide the public with fantastic journey. Here’s hoping that this will not be the last adventure of Aang and his friends.

J.Chandler C+

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