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View Poll Results: Grade the movie...
Excellent 1 2.70%
Above Average 7 18.92%
Average 7 18.92%
Below Average 7 18.92%
Poor 15 40.54%
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Old July 1 2010, 11:55 AM   #16
Capt. Vulcan
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Re: The Last Airbender - Grading & Discussion

Ugh, someone told me today that Airbender had a 6% rating on rotten tomatoes and I thought they were joking. How hard is it to take such great source material in to a decent movie? Holy crap. I've defended Shamylan in the past because I've enjoyed some of his less popular movies like Unbreakable and the Villiage... but this is unforgivable. I should have guessed there was something wrong when they waited so long to screen it and they scrapped plans to do all three movies at the same time. What a horrible horrible waste of the source material. I hope this next animated project, whatever it is, will at least help us forget some of this crap.

Ugh. I know I should wait to see the movie, but reading reviews from both people that had never seen the show and those that were fans... it's not looking good. From all accounts the movie is an utter failure. Maybe in about 5 years they can get a better director to take another crack at the franchise, because it really does deserve better treatment than this.
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Old July 1 2010, 04:52 PM   #17
M'rk, son of Mogh
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Re: The Last Airbender - Grading & Discussion

Did anybody see the movie (not including critics) that HASN'T seen or doesn't know anything about the TV series?
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Old July 1 2010, 05:44 PM   #18
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Re: The Last Airbender - Grading & Discussion

Spoilers below. Read at your own risk.

Please forgive any bad grammar and writing in this review: I'm extremely tired while writing this and there is so much to discuss.

My Grade - D. I could give the movie an F, but I think that would be too harsh. Transformers 2 deserves a F; this movie isn't that bad.

Quick summary: The movie needed another 45 minutes, better choreography, and to be written and directed by someone not M. Night Shyamalan.

Full review: Disappointing. Awful. Failure. Those were the words that spring to mind after seeing this movie. I was hoping for a grand epic, but all I got was trash. It was a horrible, horrible movie. In the interest of full disclosure, I have to say I am a huge fan of the show. IMO, if someone compiled a list of the top 10 or 20 shows created in the past decade, Avatar: The Last Airbender should be on that list. However, what makes the movie bad is not that it wasn't enough like the show; it's just that it was a bad movie. First, let's go into why it was a bad movie. Then I will go into how the movie could have been more like the show.

Directing: M. Night was just the wrong director and writer to pick for this kind of movie. This movie should have been staged as an epic fantasy with awesome martial arts action. It could be deep and spiritual (something Night tries to accomplish in his other movies), but it needs to be fun to watch and dazzle the eye. The movie doesn't do these things. There are too many close-ups, and weird shots, and horrible lighting. And the choreography suffered as a result.

Choreography: They really should have gone with a director who has more experience with this kind of thing, especially because the martial arts play a pretty big role in the universe. There were a couple of cool moments, but they were few and far between. The characters seemed to spend more time talking about action instead of allowing us to see it directly. And what action there was not impressive. When the action centered on Aang or Zuko it was okay, but otherwise, it was incomprehensible. I don't know how you can have two armies fighting and make it seem like nothing is happening. As a martial artist, I was disappointed in this, especially since the choreography in the show was top notch. Some of the action scenes could have been lifted frame by frame of the show, but they never occurred in the movie; like there wasn't enough time for it. This leads me to the next problem...

Writing: The movie needed to be over 2 hours, maybe 2.5 hours. Right now, it barely clocks in over 100 minutes. There is a reason most live-action fantasy movies are long; they need the time to establish the world itself, and the characters that make us care about the world. While I was watching the movie, I felt lost. At times I thought, 'Good thing I've seen the show, otherwise I wouldn't have any idea what was going on.' The movie jumped from place to place, seemingly at random, so it became difficult to know who I was looking at, where they were, and when they were (the movie takes place over several weeks, but there wasn't much of a sense of time.) And the dialog was horrible, with the characters having the amazing ability to state the obvious. There was no sense of humor or fun at all. There was only one intentional joke that got a laugh out of the audience. The dialog was laughed at more often than anything else. The characters were the worst victims of the writing. Sokka and Katara were barely in the movie, with the flimsiest of reasons given for why we should care. All the characters were similarly short changed, including Appa and Momo (that might have had more to do with budget constraints.)

Acting: I'm not going to go too much into this, because the actors had very little to work with. It was hard to get a sense of who the characters were, and how they should be acting.

Now, on to how the movie could have been more like the show, and how it would have been a better movie as a result. There was no chance the movie was going to be exactly like the show. I was willing to accept that many characters weren't going to appear and some events would be condensed, but the show just did everything better than the movie.

I'm going to nitpick first: WTF was up with the pronunciations. Characters names were pronounced differently than they were in the show, and there was no reason for it. Why say Aang differently in the movie than in the show? It just makes no sense. It has nothing to do with the quality of the movie, but it was an unnecessary change.

Another needless change: Firebenders now need a nearby source of fire to bend. They can't generate fire by themselves (unless under special conditions). Not really a huge change, but I'm scratching my head at why they made the change at all. The show managed to work it in and not have firebenders be overpowered.

Here is a prime example of where the movie should have taken something directly from the show: In the first episodes, Zuko captured Aang and holds him prisoner on his ship. Aang escapes, and in the process, Zuko's ship gets damaged. This forces Zuko to dock for repairs, which is where we meet Zhao. This was a logical way to have the characters interact, and gave us insight into their personalities. In the movie, Aang escapes from Zuko, but Zuko's ship is undamaged. While sailing after him, Zuko just happens to run into Zhao, who invites Zuko onto his ship for lunch, humiliates Zuko, and then Zuko leaves. That is how we are introduced to Zhao. It came across as awkward in the movie. I don't know why they didn't more closely adapt what they did in the show. It worked perfectly.

Another example: Ozai has a fairly large role in the movie. In the show, we don't even see his face until season three. The only reason this is an issue in the movie, is that Ozai didn't need to be there. We had two antagonists already, Zhao and Zuko. Every scene with Ozai ate up screen time for an already too-short movie. They should have spent more time developing the relationships of the other characters than dealing with Ozai. And don't get me started on the absence of Roku.

Some changes for the better: Sozin's Comet wasn't mentioned until the end of the movie, which worked out well. There was enough motivation presented to have Aang go to the North Pole without that plot thread being introduced. And the comet is three years away, not arriving by the end of the summer, which is what happened in the show. It was a smart change, considering a trilogy was planned and Night had to accommodate how the actors would age during production. Hopefully, the trilogy will not be made with Night as the director (if it's finished at all.)

I can write a dissertation on how the movie went wrong, but walk away with this. I'm not some fanboy who is upset the movie didn't do what the show did. It was just a bad movie, period. As a fan, I'm concerned by what this means for the franchise. Chances are, the trilogy won't be made because it will be damaged goods. I know Nickelodeon is working on a new Avatar mini-series with the original creators of the show, so there's that. I'm worried about what's going to happen after that. Nickelodeon might have forever tarnished one of their strongest franchises by putting it in the hands of M. Night Shyamalan. Hopefully his career will finally be over after this failure.

I'm looking forward to hearing other opinions; especially from people who have not seen the show. Maybe the movie isn't as much of a train wreck as I think it is.
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Old July 1 2010, 06:15 PM   #19
Christopher
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Re: The Last Airbender - Grading & Discussion

Scherazade wrote: View Post
Another needless change: Firebenders now need a nearby source of fire to bend. They can't generate fire by themselves (unless under special conditions). Not really a huge change, but I'm scratching my head at why they made the change at all. The show managed to work it in and not have firebenders be overpowered.
Actually this makes sense to me. I mean, the other three kinds of benders don't generate their elements out of their own bodies (except for Katara bending her own sweat, which isn't quite the same thing); as a rule, they manipulate the pre-existing substances in their environment. In the show, the Firebenders are the exception to that rule. That's somewhat justified by the identification of chi with energy and energy with fire, but the movie's approach here just seems more self-consistent.
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Old July 1 2010, 07:25 PM   #20
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Re: The Last Airbender - Grading & Discussion

And the fans seem to hate it just as much as the critics, if not more so.

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Old July 1 2010, 07:42 PM   #21
Scherazade
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Re: The Last Airbender - Grading & Discussion

Christopher wrote: View Post
Actually this makes sense to me. I mean, the other three kinds of benders don't generate their elements out of their own bodies (except for Katara bending her own sweat, which isn't quite the same thing); as a rule, they manipulate the pre-existing substances in their environment. In the show, the Firebenders are the exception to that rule. That's somewhat justified by the identification of chi with energy and energy with fire, but the movie's approach here just seems more self-consistent.
I understand what your saying, and it wasn't a big deal; I just found it odd. Now that you mention it, when I first saw the show I thought it was weird that firebenders didn't need a fire source to bend. But I came to think that firebending kind of balanced against airbending. In a world where every bender needs their element nearby, airbenders have an edge because their element is everywhere and easily accessible. Firebenders offer a balance in this regard. Earth and Water, while limited in accessibility, have an advantage when it comes to substance (mass). That's how it worked out in my head, anyway. The change did work well in the movie (as much as anything can work well in a movie like this.) It just surprised me.
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Old July 1 2010, 07:44 PM   #22
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Re: The Last Airbender - Grading & Discussion

Scherazade wrote: View Post
I'm going to nitpick first: WTF was up with the pronunciations. Characters names were pronounced differently than they were in the show, and there was no reason for it.
From what I understand, the pronunciations are changed because that's how Shyamalan thought the spellings should be pronounced (yeah, I don't get it either).
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Old July 1 2010, 07:52 PM   #23
Christopher
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Re: The Last Airbender - Grading & Discussion

This is sad. I expected it to be bad as soon as Shyamalan was announced as director, but as I saw the trailers and set reports, I began to hope that he might manage to pull off a moderately decent movie at least. And I never expected it would be as intensely reviled as this.

Well, I'll just say what I've said before -- if A:TLA fans want to see a good live-action version of the show, go rent The Forbidden Kingdom.


How were the pronunciations changed? I'd assume "Aang" was pronounced with an "ah" sound, which would make sense to me. Were there other changes as well?
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Old July 1 2010, 08:13 PM   #24
RoJoHen
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Re: The Last Airbender - Grading & Discussion

CaptainCanada wrote: View Post
Scherazade wrote: View Post
I'm going to nitpick first: WTF was up with the pronunciations. Characters names were pronounced differently than they were in the show, and there was no reason for it.
From what I understand, the pronunciations are changed because that's how Shyamalan thought the spellings should be pronounced (yeah, I don't get it either).
Did he even watch the show?
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Old July 1 2010, 08:16 PM   #25
exodus
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Re: The Last Airbender - Grading & Discussion

CaptainCanada wrote: View Post
Scherazade wrote: View Post
I'm going to nitpick first: WTF was up with the pronunciations. Characters names were pronounced differently than they were in the show, and there was no reason for it.
From what I understand, the pronunciations are changed because that's how Shyamalan thought the spellings should be pronounced (yeah, I don't get it either).
So he changed the pronounciations but couldn't direct them to act?

Why does this guy keep getting work?

I guess we shouldn't look foward to a Book II.
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Old July 1 2010, 08:37 PM   #26
Robert Maxwell
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Re: The Last Airbender - Grading & Discussion

exodus wrote: View Post
CaptainCanada wrote: View Post
Scherazade wrote: View Post
I'm going to nitpick first: WTF was up with the pronunciations. Characters names were pronounced differently than they were in the show, and there was no reason for it.
From what I understand, the pronunciations are changed because that's how Shyamalan thought the spellings should be pronounced (yeah, I don't get it either).
So he changed the pronounciations but couldn't direct them to act?

Why does this guy keep getting work?

I guess we shouldn't look foward to a Book II.
With any luck, this will be the end of Shyamalan's career. I figured the movie might wind up being a run-of-the-mill summer blockbuster, but apparently it wound up being an abhorrent mess. I mean, fucking 6%?? Not too many movies get that kind of universal scorn.

Look at the trajectory this guy's career has taken. Tomatometer scores by movie:

Wide Awake - 41%
The Sixth Sense - 85%
Unbreakable - 68%
Signs - 74%
The Village - 43%
Lady in the Water - 24%
The Happening - 18%
The Last Airbender - 6%

What's he gonna try for next, 0%?
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Old July 1 2010, 09:02 PM   #27
exodus
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Re: The Last Airbender - Grading & Discussion

Robert Maxwell wrote: View Post
exodus wrote: View Post
CaptainCanada wrote: View Post
From what I understand, the pronunciations are changed because that's how Shyamalan thought the spellings should be pronounced (yeah, I don't get it either).
So he changed the pronounciations but couldn't direct them to act?

Why does this guy keep getting work?

I guess we shouldn't look foward to a Book II.
With any luck, this will be the end of Shyamalan's career. I figured the movie might wind up being a run-of-the-mill summer blockbuster, but apparently it wound up being an abhorrent mess. I mean, fucking 6%?? Not too many movies get that kind of universal scorn.

Look at the trajectory this guy's career has taken. Tomatometer scores by movie:

Wide Awake - 41%
The Sixth Sense - 85%
Unbreakable - 68%
Signs - 74%
The Village - 43%
Lady in the Water - 24%
The Happening - 18%
The Last Airbender - 6%

What's he gonna try for next, 0%?
..or directing infomercials.
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Old July 1 2010, 09:02 PM   #28
CaptainCanada
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Re: The Last Airbender - Grading & Discussion

Christopher wrote: View Post
How were the pronunciations changed? I'd assume "Aang" was pronounced with an "ah" sound, which would make sense to me. Were there other changes as well?
According to one of the other reviews I've read, Iroh now rhymes with "hero", and Sokka is "Soak-a".
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Old July 1 2010, 09:16 PM   #29
SG-17
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Re: The Last Airbender - Grading & Discussion

CaptainCanada wrote: View Post
Christopher wrote: View Post
How were the pronunciations changed? I'd assume "Aang" was pronounced with an "ah" sound, which would make sense to me. Were there other changes as well?
According to one of the other reviews I've read, Iroh now rhymes with "hero", and Sokka is "Soak-a".
Yup, ear-o and soak-a. Though Yue says Sokka (show pronunciation) once.
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Old July 1 2010, 09:24 PM   #30
Dusty Ayres
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Re: The Last Airbender - Grading & Discussion

Shyamalan talks about the movie here:

M.Night Shyamalan in his own words on The Last Airbender race controversy

Personally, I don't see what all the bitching's about.
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