The_Last_Airbender_Poster.png [ 862.01 KiB | Viewed 1186 times ]
I went to see the 3D version with my daughter who likes the cartoon, being somewhat familiar with the story I was interested in see how they moved everything from the cartoon world to live-action.
The basic plot goes like this: One hundred years ago, a twelve-year-old Airbender named Aang learns he is the new Avatar, the only person in his generation capable of controlling and manipulating all four elements to his will and the one tasked with maintaining peace between the Four Nations of the world. Fearful of the heavy responsibilities of being the Avatar, Aang flees from home on his animal guide, a flying bison called Appa. Caught by a fierce storm, they crash into the ocean, and Aang's protective Avatar State freezes them in a state of suspended animation inside an iceberg. Right after his disappearance, Fire Lord Sozin launches a genocidal campaign against the Air Nomads in hopes of wiping out the Avatar so he can achieve his plot for the Fire Nation to rule the world.
In the present, Aang becomes unfrozen by a fourteen-year-old Waterbender girl named Katara, and her older warrior brother, Sokka from the Southern Water Tribe...thus your story begins.
The challenge for director M. Night Shyamalan is to pack a whole lot story details from the serial cartoon into an hour and forty three minutes and title it Book One.
Not an easy task and given the time constraints the story does suffer a bit specially early in the film. The story was there but a lot of details are dropped in favor of moving the story forward, I think the film would have greatly benefited if it was another 15-20 minutes longer.
An example if you recall from the cartoon Aang leaves with Fire Nation to have them spare the Southern Water Tribe very early in the story, in the cartoon there is an elaborate scene of Aang escaping but wanting to find his staff and after he flies off the Fire Nation ship with a lot of fire being shot at him and the Fire Nation ship becomes stranded in ice. In the movie this is all skipped and Aang is seen escaping in one scene and his staff is magically back in his hands the next scene with no explanation of how it got there.
This kind of sacrifice is rampant through most of the film, making the film seem kind of choppy and disjointed.
However, as we move towards the climax of the film with the Fire Nation/Northern Water Tribe battle you really start to get a sense of the characters and the story. I walked out not really disappointed per say, but with a sense of "That was ok" and it perked enough interest in me that I want to see the next one and gosh the special effects were really cool.
The acting was a mix of good and bad.
Noah Ringer as Aang did a great job of a mixture of angst at being the last air bender and feeling that all his old country men is his fault and being a 12 year old.
Shaun Toub as Iroh was acted so well, that you have to like his character, clearly his wisdom is lost on Fire Nation and his role is shaping young Prince Zuko is done very well.
Dev Patel as Prince Zuko does not work, the actor seems to try real hard but he just doesn't sell the role very well, he did better by the end of the film, but he was clearly a weak spot. Perhaps they could have spent a little more time developing his character, Dev could have pulled it off.
Seychelle Gabriel as Princess Yue was another character that just did not come across very well, but she got very little screen time so maybe not a major ding against the actress.
Nicola Peltz as Katara and Jackson Rathbone as Sokka as Aang's companions are ok, they do a decent job with their characters with Nicola being the better of the two by the end.
The special effects and martial arts are all very well done and sell the concept of element bending very well. It's a richly detailed and interesting universe that I hope gets a better treatment in the next film (A trilogy is planned).
I think it's worth seeing in 2D, but the extra money you spend for 3D may not be for those that are more thrifty minded.
All in all, I want to give this film a 4 out of 5, but I just can't; the story is just to choppy because of the time limits and some of the acting is just too weak, but it pulls together enough for a 3.5 out of 5 in my opinion.
I will be very much looking forward to the next film, if you are a fan of the cartoon series or the trailer perks your interest, it's worth going to see but I doubt that it will find its way into very many DVD libraries.