Guest blogger Apologist weighs in with his thoughts on the new movie, The Last Airbender:
I started watching Avatar: The Last Airbender with my son about a month ago via Netflix. For some reason, he started on Book 2. Rather than disrupt his flow, I decided to just roll with the punches and figure it out as I went. My boy and I had seen random episodes over at Grandma’s house over the years, so that helped.
My daughter wanted to start watching Avatar: The Last Airbender. With her, I got the opportunity to start from Book 1. I caught the first few episodes with her this past week, but I still had not completed the entire season.
After seeing the movie, I decided to glance through some quick synopses of the episodes I missed, just to gauge how different the movie was from the TV series. Up to the point of the episodes I saw, the movie was surprisingly faithful, compressing and cutting out parts of the episodes while keeping the key points and spirit of the show. It felt natural; the missing stuff was easily forgotten.
Sure enough, the rest of movie appears to have been fairly faithful the show.
Now, to how I felt about the movie: it rocked! If you’re an M. Night Shyamalan fan who has been dissuaded by the terrible reviews on Rotten Tomatoes, don’t be. Go see the movie.
M. Night does a great job focusing on the spiritual nature of the Avatar, using nonviolence methods to stop fighting … while also mixing in great combat moves and earth-bending sequences.
I literally got chills when I saw the intro where all the four elements are represented, just like the TV show!
As for the reviews that say Aang is not relatable: unfortunately, this is another case where the actor is playing a certain character, and the critics wish the character was different somehow. It reminds me of how critics said Haydn Christiansen was “Wooden” when he played Anakin Skywalker, when THAT’S the character. What’s he supposed to do, act like Han Solo?
It’s the same thing with Aang. Here’s a kid who is basically like a Tibetan Monk who just found out his race was wiped out by the Fire Nation. What — is he supposed to be happy-go-lucky? Come on!
I love how critics kept saying, “Well, Prince Zuko is a more compelling character.” Well, of course he is! He’s trying to regain his honor, he’s got a scar dealt to him by his own father, he’s obsessed with the Avatar, he’s got the teenage angst “Slumdog Millionaire” thing going for him. Sheesh. There’s nothing wrong with that.
My only criticism is that Sokka wasn’t cracking any jokes like he does in Book 2 or 3. Then again, maybe he was more serious in Book 1, so even that might not be a legit criticism. He kinda looked like a young Brendan Fraser, for what it’s worth.
Overall, this was a well-executed version of the story. M. Night Shyamalan has managed to bring the magic of The Last Airbender from Nickelodeon to the big screen and mainstream movie-going audiences. I hope it did well enough in the box office to justify the completion of the trilogy (they’re counting on big international sales after the World Cup, I think). I can’t wait to see Princess Azula, a wicked character and strategist to the say the least, in action.
One more thing: M. Night does a great job in this movie getting the child and teen actors to be REAL. He’s shown that gift since The Sixth Sense, and that has not changed. Anyone who doesn’t like the dialogue should just go ahead and watch the two jive-talking Autobots from Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen on a loop for 12 hours straight; maybe then they’d see the light. Heaven forbid kids speak with eloquence. Sheesh.
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