I recently posted about The Last Airbender and the casting controversies surrounding it, here. I stand by my arguments in that post, but I am writing again on the subject of the film, now that I’ve seen it.
I’d like to start my review by saying that it’s a huge disappointment and I can’t think of anyone who should see it. It is not as bad as you might think from reading reviews on the internet. Those have been unjustifyably vitriolic. It is still a deeply flawed movie that shouldn’t be seen.
It’s tragic because the movie is really good at a few things. All those things you see in the trailer. The action is good and the world in general looks like the Avatar world would look if it wasn’t a cartoon. If you took out all the talking everything would kinda feel right.
Everything else is awful, though. The acting, the lines, and pacing, the plot. If you know the series, it’s not like it anymore. They killed all the funny cartoony goodness in order to shorten the first season into 2 hours, consequently changing and ruining several characters. They couldn’t have survived even if they had been played well. The exposition is the worst I can think of in my movie watching history.
I know that blame doesn’t need to be placed, but if I was asked I would place it squarely on Mr. Shyamalan. He wrote the screenplay and directed the performances. I’m not sure if the casting was just bad, but I’d bet that the cast could have at least done a passable job given the chance. I think Shyamalan drove the movie into the ground by somehow needing to get exactly 1 season into 1 movie.
It should have been done like a comic book movie. Take the characters and world from the show and make a movie using them. Tell the origin story. Cramming 400 minutes of excellent cartoon into 120 minutes of anything is going to be really really difficult, if not impossible, and I see no reason to attempt it if one doesn’t have to. And nobody ever has to.
Oh, and I went and saw it in 2D because I knew it was an upscaled 3D which I don’t approve of. From what I hear I made a good choice. The 3D just makes things more expensive and worse. That shouldn’t matter since if you take my advice, you won’t see it at all. Unfortunately.
If they don’t kill the movie projects entirely I’ll be looking for some drastic changes before I pay to see any sequel, even given my adoration for the original material. /sadface