I Finally Watched The Last Airbender, and It Wasn’t Worth It

Adaptations It can be tricky, especially when the source material is animated. More often than not, they are vilified. when revealing, because they often feel like they are going through the motions or turning the original into something it is not. It can be a daunting prospect to see something you grew up with lose its identity, and things get even worse when you really can’t let go.

Last weekend I saw The last Airbender, Nickelodeon’s 2010 M. Night Shyamalan adaptation Avatar series. Back then he had made an active decision to avoid the film, largely because the cast was whitewashed as hell. And other than watching the last 15 minutes on TV forever ago, I’ve never seen it in its entirety. Now that I’ve done it, after years of hearing it described as the worst thing ever… it’s just a mediocre adaptation. There is nothing extraordinary about it being bad, other than that sucking was definitive for an entire generation of children. To be honest, I was a little disappointed that it wasn’t actively worse, but then I started thinking about because The film and its evil remained in the public’s mind for a long time.

In the mid to late 2000s, studios were trying to create anything that could have the same impact as Harry Potter films. At that time, films based on children’s books such as Eragon and The Spiderwick Chronicles worked well or failed, and while Dragon Ball Evolution Although it damaged anime’s Hollywood aspirations for a decade, the medium was not yet a juggernaut. The original Avatar The show arrived at the right time in 2005: it looked enough like the anime to stand out, but arrived without any of the negative baggage associated with anime back then. And what made it feel even more special back then was how it was actively aging with its audience, something cartoons didn’t really do at the time.

Image: Supreme

Avatar It was a show for 11 year olds and it was formative as good shows tend to be when they hit you at the right time. He last airbender The movie was clearly aimed at fans of the show, which had ended in 2008. Two years was enough time for some nostalgia for the original show to arise… which made it even more heartbreaking that the movie simply hits. Whatever little bright spots it has, like Dev Patel and Aasif Mandvi being the only ones trying to play Zuko and Zhao, they’re quickly overwhelmed by a movie that makes it clear from the start that it’s going to be a stinker.

Condensing a 20-episode series into a movie was never easy, and it would be foolish to think that the movie was going to encompass as much as possible. But it’s still pretty surprising to see this movie adapt a handful of episodes and leave it at that, something made worse by how half-hearted the effort feels. The “best” of the bunch is really just the assault on the Northern Water Tribe towards the end, and that’s really only because the movie does a decent job of giving Aang’s big waterbending tidal wave a sense of scale. (But even that doesn’t have the same impact as the giant water kaiju at the end of the show.)

In that sense, I can understand why series creators Bryan Konietzko and Michael Dante DiMartino would align themselves with Netflix to give another live-action attempt at their own work. (After a separation from Netflix due to “creative differences”, they headed to Nickelodeon to headline Avatar Studioswhere they are developing a Avatar animated film, among other projects.) As for the general public, it feels strange to still give oxygen to the 2010 film; At best, Netflix’s upcoming live-action version of the material (an eight-episode series made without Konietzko and DiMartino, and coming to the streamer on February 22) can really only make us say “well, it’s better than the previous”. But the bigger Avatar The series pretty much picked up around the third season of Legend of Korra, and it’s not like this will ever be reexamined as the Star Wars prequels or several Marvel films prior to Fox’s MCU.

The last airbender The biggest mistake was how much it didn’t do the source material well or even have its own novel twist to distract from what it was missing. As an adaptation, it commits the cardinal sin of existing on its own and not being additive in any real way. Overall, it’s boring and annoying, but not enough to hold a grudge for 14 years.

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