The Last Airbender (review)

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Somewhere, Ed Wood Is Smiling

We surely must respect an artist of the caliber of M. Night Shyamalan. He’s always been a filmmaker who clearly wants to stand out from the crowd, give us movies that may look, on the surface, like the same old, same old, but once you get into them, evince a true break from the current paradigm. And he’s done it again with The Last Airbender. It may appear — from the posters and trailers and ads and such — that this is yet another tedious $200 million action fantasy cashing in on the popularity of a franchise from another medium. It may look like — as I deemed the recent Clash of the Titans remake — another example of “empty, cheap, cold, soulless corporate filmmaking, and that that’s its good side.” But it’s so much more than that.
It is not for the likes of Shyamalan (The Happening, Lady in the Water) to leave the audience with the impression that, well, his movie may have failed, may be dull and perfunctory, may make you wish you’d stayed home, but it’s not like anyone involved wasn’t trying: they did their best but the gods of cinema simply did not bless them; the lightning did not strike, the souffle did not rise, the Jell-O did not gel, and that happens sometimes. No: Shyamalan wanted to ensure that his film, his Last Airbender would not be lost in the Hollywood dross: he wanted to assure this he was presenting the audience with awfulness on a scale that would boggle the mind. He wanted to leave us shaking our heads and marveling at a terribleness that was not merely terrible, but a terribleness that leaves you astonished at just how very, very terrible it is.

“Astonishing!” –MaryAnn Johanson, FlickFilosopher.com

Because, honestly, from the bottom of my geeky movie-loving heart, I cannot explain the jaw-dropping awfulness of The Last Airbender in any other way. It looks, by all that Ed Wood considered holy, that Shyamalan simply stood his inexperienced and incapable young cast in front of a bluescreen (flat, lifeless CGI settings would be added later) and shot the first read-through of the first draft of the script. Which was written by an eight-year-old who really, really loves Avatar: The Last Airbender, the pseudo-anime American cartoon series this is based upon [Amazon U.S.] [Amazon Canada] [Amazon U.K.]. Because it’s full of people saying to one another “As you know…” and then explaining stuff that, indeed, the other character does already know. And exchanges like this:

“Do you have a spiritual place I can meditate?”

“Yes, we have a very spiritual place.”

“Stilted” and “hamfisted” doesn’t even begin to cover it.

It’s all about, apparently, a little boy, Aang (Noah Ringer), who was frozen in ice for a century, but now he gets defrosted and he’s just fine and he’s gonna be the savior of this alternate world, where some people can magically control the elements — earth, water, fire, and air — and the Fire Nation are all evil and bent on world domination. You can tell the Fire Nation people are evil, because they’re brown (played by actors that make me weep with pity for them, like Dev Patel [Slumdog Millionaire, Skins] and Cliff Curtis [Push, 10,000 B.C.], and also by The Daily Show’s Aasif Mandvi, whom I kept expecting to be identified as “Senior Fire Nation Correspondent” and whom I kept expecting to end his every line of dialogue with “Jon…”) The good people, like Aang and the deeply annoying and pointless Katara (Nicola Peltz) and Sokka (Jackson Rathbone: The Twilight Saga: Eclipse), who are helping Aang save the world or something, are white. Later, Sokka will spend about two minutes with Princess Yue (Seychelle Gabriel: The Spirit), who is also white, and then be in love with her, and we’re supposed to care about that, I think. Oh, and Aang can control all of the elements, which makes him the Avatar and hence a kind of demigod, except he can’t control all the elements yet, just air and water (and the latter only a little bit). It’s basically how like the Force is with Luke in Star Wars but he still gets zapped in the butt by the training droid and totally needs to go visit Yoda and get himself tutored.

Except not. Because Shyamalan — I can’t believe he’s not embarrassed to reveal that he wrote this script as well as directed — has no idea how to immerse us into the multiple alien cultures and religions he is allegedly introducing us to here. At least with Clash of the Titans, to return to that previous low-water mark for the year, we understand the world we’re visiting and what’s at stake — we just don’t care about any of it. Here, it’s just people in vaguely exotic costumes telling one another about “the spirits” in the same way that we don’t ever walk up to random strangers and say, “As you know, Bob, Jesus died on the cross for our sins and for our free-market capitalism, and the nation of Whateveristan brings war upon us because of that.” These characters don’t live in their world — perhaps because their world isn’t in the least bit real.

The nauseating fake 3D is the least of it, as moments that are meant to be solemn do nothing but induce laughter pile up and blank-slate characters become increasingly unlikeable. The stench of a major stinker starts wafting from the screen pretty early on, and it just keeps getting worse… or better, if you’re looking for an opportunity to lob snarky remarks at the screen. Those opportunities are many. In fact, be sure to bring a Riff Bender of the Mystery Science Theater 3000 Nation with you for maximum enjoyment. For the only enjoyment to be had from this shockingly amateurish movie.

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JoshDM
JoshDM
Thu, Jul 01, 2010 5:31pm

From the reviews I have read, this film is apparently as terrible as the source material it is based on is amazing.

Much like the much maligned LXG made people repelled to the idea of reading the comic book it is based on BY NAME ALONE, League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, the reviews pouring in indicate film will keep anyone who hasn’t yet seen it from watching the original cartoon series.

The cartoon, The Last Airbender, is the animated equivalent to watching Firefly, and if you have never watched this cartoon, you are missing out in the exact same vein as if you never saw Mal and Jayne do their respective things.

Magess
Magess
Thu, Jul 01, 2010 5:37pm

Have you seen M. Night’s response to his lambasting?

http://www.sliceofscifi.com/2010/07/01/shyamalan-welcomes-airbender-criticism/

JoshDM
JoshDM
Thu, Jul 01, 2010 5:43pm

Have you seen the reactions of the fans who saw the movie?

http://thedailywh.at/post/758724921/no-duh-of-the-day-i-am-mostly-posting-this-video

misterb
misterb
Thu, Jul 01, 2010 5:46pm

MAJ,
With the sad state of moviedom these days , your tripartite icon set seems obsolete. Below “Skip it”,
you need “Go with Robot” or “Attend with Flamethrower”.
For some of these awful movies, skipping them just seems too passive.

allochthon
allochthon
Thu, Jul 01, 2010 5:48pm

Best quotes!

“Senior Fire Nation Correspondent”

Riff Bender of the Mystery Science Theater 3000 Nation…

I was feeling vaguely guilty about this movie, because despite the whitewashing bruhaha, I still wanted to see it. But then I read Ebert’s review. Then I read Charlie Jane’s on Io9 (which may be the BEST review of a movie I’ve EVER seen, no offense, MaryAnn) and then this makes the trifecta! Thank you so much!

Also, an interesting theory from the blogosphere:

“It made me start wondering if someone had sabotaged the thing. And I was thinking, maybe the editor. …
This guy knows how to edit and knows how to work with special effect heavy stuff. So yeah. This is my theory. The Last Airbender was deliberately sabotaged by its editor, Conrad Buff. Possibly by just by letting M. Night Shyamalan have whatever he asked for.
– jmtorres

Bongwater
Thu, Jul 01, 2010 5:53pm

Can’t wait for Armond White’s glowing rave. ;)

Sarah
Sarah
Thu, Jul 01, 2010 6:04pm

I am sad about this. The cartoon was awesomesauce.

spaghetteve
spaghetteve
Thu, Jul 01, 2010 6:09pm

“Astonishing!” –MaryAnn Johanson, FlickFilosopher.com

Ha!

Dymphna
Dymphna
Thu, Jul 01, 2010 6:14pm

Too bad that whoever adapted this didn’t pick up on the series’ frequent self-deprecating humor and humility.

Chuck
Chuck
Thu, Jul 01, 2010 6:20pm

I promised that I would take my nephews to see this abomination on Sunday. I can only hope that even their over-sugared pre-pubescent minds will give up on this movie somewhere before the half way mark so I can keep some of my sanity. Though, considering that the younger one can watch an episode of Scooby-doo (and I mean just one episode on repeat) for literally hours on end I proactively weep for my neurons that will inevitably be sacrificed to this steaming pile.

Newbia
Newbia
Thu, Jul 01, 2010 6:22pm

I second what other people have said — the original series is amazing, and it is just awful that this movie will turn people off of it.

Martin Sane
Martin Sane
Thu, Jul 01, 2010 6:28pm

At least it seems like the movie wasn’t misogynistic…
Ok, who am I kidding? I’m sure it was, only not to the same degree all other aspects of the movie sucked. Otherwise we would have heard about it in detail…:-p

George
George
Thu, Jul 01, 2010 6:29pm

I was really looking forward to seeing this and all of the glory the story contains.

Now, I have to see it just to see how bad M.Night mucked it up.

I’m starting to lose my faith in movies.

MaryAnn
MaryAnn
Thu, Jul 01, 2010 6:43pm

Then I read Charlie Jane’s on Io9 (which may be the BEST review of a movie I’ve EVER seen, no offense, MaryAnn)

It’s a great review. In my defense, I’ve never had an Asiadilla.

Ide Cyan
Ide Cyan
Thu, Jul 01, 2010 6:51pm

Aasif Mandvi, whom I kept expecting to be identified as “Senior Fire Nation Correspondent”

I too love that bit. They should use it on TDS (and credit you for it!).

Teeny Gozer
Teeny Gozer
Thu, Jul 01, 2010 6:51pm

I’m guessing the white kid who got replaced by Dev Patel is feeling mighty grateful for his luck about now.

I initially thought it was great that MKS was directing, because he was a director-of-color making the film for his daughters. Imagine my surprise when first he cast white kids as the Inuit/Himalayan/Japanese leads, then he seemed to be leaching the feminism out of it. When the movie’s PR team released the actors’ names with a little bio of each character, Sokka was referred to as a young warrior who will one day valiantly fight the Fire Nation, and Katara is referred to as “Sokka’s sister” and Aang’s love interest — defined entirely by her relationships to male characters. As a fan of the original animated show, I had a serious moment of disconnect there.

And it only gets worse with every review I read. If I had daughters, this is the last movie I’d want them to see.

Catherine Cantieri
Catherine Cantieri
Thu, Jul 01, 2010 6:54pm

Wow. MaryAnn, you know me and my taste in movies. Will I have to see this one just to marvel at it and giggle uncontrollably?

… or should I wait until it’s on DVD when I can watch it at home, safely drunk?

aquila6
aquila6
Thu, Jul 01, 2010 7:44pm

So: M. Night Shyamalan… or Uwe Boll?

MaryAnn
MaryAnn
Thu, Jul 01, 2010 7:49pm

… or should I wait until it’s on DVD when I can watch it at home, safely drunk?

Oh, I cannot wait for this to be released on DVD and I can host a BYOB MST3K party for this movie. My brother Ken — who is much of a mind with me — came to the screening with me, and we were riffing through the whole thing. It was painful having to keep our voices down so as not to disturb other people.

So: M. Night Shyamalan… or Uwe Boll?

How about “vs.”? As in one of Boll’s boxing matches? That would be awesome.

aquila6
aquila6
Thu, Jul 01, 2010 7:53pm

“Vs.” sounds good. (Wish I’d thought of that.)

The main difference between them is that Boll knows he’s a hack. Shyamalan still thinks he’s Hitchcock reincarnated or something.

doa766
doa766
Thu, Jul 01, 2010 7:54pm

what the hell happenned to this guy?

he became famous for his stories and twist endings but it’s worth remembering how well directed The Six Sense and, especcially, Unbreakable were

he shot those movies like a master director with beautiful long shoots, great, menacing atmosphere and he was able to get amazing performaces from his actors (Bruce Willis on both, Sam Jackson on Unbreakeable) and all that just went away

one thing is that his stories are no longer interesting, that happens to many writters, but what about the other stuff, did he just forget how to direct a scene or to guide his actors?

iakobos
iakobos
Thu, Jul 01, 2010 8:12pm

“Astonishing!” –MaryAnn Johanson, FlickFilosopher.com LOL

Katie
Katie
Thu, Jul 01, 2010 8:41pm

Thank goodness.

I’m glad this film is so awful- it doesn’t deserve to be good, especially how Shyamalan completely whitewashed the cast (except the bad guys, of course) and sucked the soul out of the show.

The “pseudo-anime” cartoon ‘Avatar: The Last Airbender’ was pretty darn good, if cheesy at times. Don’t let this movie serve as its ambassador.

sarah
sarah
Thu, Jul 01, 2010 8:59pm

honestly it wasnt a good movie but had its moments. personally i liked the movie becuz it gave out a message in the end nd the visuals were badass.

JoshDM
JoshDM
Thu, Jul 01, 2010 9:25pm

[blockquote]Oh, I cannot wait for this to be released on DVD and I can host a BYOB MST3K party for this movie. My brother Ken — who is much of a mind with me — came to the screening with me, and we were riffing through the whole thing. It was painful having to keep our voices down so as not to disturb other people.[/blockquote]

I would love for you and your brother to sit down in front of your Wii, pop your Netflix Streaming disc in and sit through a few episodes of the series. I want your reactions to that.

Maxwell Llorente
Maxwell Llorente
Thu, Jul 01, 2010 10:19pm

In my opinion M. Knight hasn’t seen the original cartoon series, because if he had then he would have left the original story line the way it was. In the cartoon they compact a very well written story in several half hour episodes. Granted there were thirteen episodes to wrap up the first book labeled WATER, but the way that M. Knight cut out major plot points and changed the story line in such a way that the true Last Air Bender fans would be very upset and disapproving is truly unforgivable. I for one will not go and see the second and third books, EARTH and FIRE, unless they keep the story line and true avatar idea. Because if I waste more money on another crappy, badly made off chute of a truly great story idea I will seriously be pissed off. I know that there are more last air bender fans like me that noticed major and damaging changes to the story of the book of WATER that deteriorated the genius and original idea of avatar. I would really like to hear from true fans to see if you share my opinion of this horrible live action movie.

John
John
Thu, Jul 01, 2010 10:50pm

First off, the Author of the review is a complete joke and a racist. They lost ALL credibility on any part of the review as soon as the racial issue was approached. Are they professional? Why would they not know that they lose any credibility to non wack jobs who want to believe racial overtures, when they play a race card?

Come on, this movie wasn’t that horrible. Well wait……yes it was….if you went expecting a possible oscar award winning movie, or a Matrix type martial arts flick.

If you had seen even one episode of the franchise you would have known exactly what to expect, nothing more and nothing less. It was true to the franchise and that was more than enough for myself and my kids.

Don’t get me wrong, I’d be steaming mad right now if I thought I was going to see a movie that possibly be on the level of the “other” avatar.

HipHop Mama
HipHop Mama
Thu, Jul 01, 2010 10:57pm

I am a 33 yr old black woman with 2 kids(10 &11) who fell in love with the entire Nickelodeon cartoon series, so when my kids and I found out that MKS was making it into a movie, I became like one of those geeky trekkie fans. Just excited, more than most of my peers. BUT to my dismay, this movie sucked with a capitol SUCKED! Now going into this I knew that a few unnoticed changes would be made and a number of episodes had to be condensed into movie form, but dude….really?! I’m very disappointed and I want back my $45 I spent for my family to watch it. My 10yr old daughter said, and these are her words, “It was rushed”. It was too serious, Sokka’s corky humor was not there, Momo’s dramatic entrance was watered down and not only were lots of changes made but they were confusing. Am I going to buy the DVD….NO! Am I going to pay money to see Water: Book 2….NO! Again, disappointed and out of $45 bucks(not including concession!).

John
John
Thu, Jul 01, 2010 11:03pm

That’s fine, but neither your color, or the color of the actors has anything to do with anything, especially the movie. Nor am I saying that I necessarily disagree with the review. I’m just saying that once the ignorant race card is played, all credibility is gone no matter how right you are with the rest.

I’ve watched the series more times than I care to count. It has made me believe that DVR’s were a horrible creation.

That being said, I and my kids got exactly what we expected out of this movie. I felt it was on par with the story line. Furthermore, I don’t really believe that all those “Harry Potter” flicks that make millions (Love those btw) are very much better and at times just as campy. Guess it comes to perception.

Anyone that expects a TON of action, or much resolution in the first movie of a triology is going to be disappointed, that’s the nature of a trilogy, the story is set up, builds up, and resolved.

aquila6
aquila6
Thu, Jul 01, 2010 11:04pm

First off, the Author of the review is a complete joke and a racist.

This should be good…

John
John
Thu, Jul 01, 2010 11:14pm

First off, the Author of the review is a complete joke and a racist.

I hope not but it is what it is. It absolutely sickens me that this is what it has come to here. Seriously, looking for social commentary in what amounts to a kids movie? Are you kidding me? I feel very bad for the author if this how they perceive the world.

MaryAnn
MaryAnn
Thu, Jul 01, 2010 11:31pm

First off, the Author of the review is a complete joke and a racist.

The Author of this review has a name. And the Author of this review would appreciate an explanation of how they are racist and a joke.

Joe
Joe
Thu, Jul 01, 2010 11:38pm

&

It wasn’t that horrible for a kids movie.

Nate
Nate
Thu, Jul 01, 2010 11:46pm

Despicable Me can’t get here fast enough

Al
Al
Thu, Jul 01, 2010 11:49pm

First off, the Author of the review is a complete joke and a racist.

The Author of this review has a name. And the Author of this review would appreciate an explanation of how they are racist and a joke.

Seconded.

John
John
Thu, Jul 01, 2010 11:56pm

The Author of this review has a name. how they are racist and a joke.

Apologies on the name, Mary Ann.

And the Author of this review would appreciate an explanation of how they are racist and a joke.

“You can tell the Fire Nation people are evil, because they’re brown”

“The good people, like Aang and the deeply annoying and pointless Katara ……. who are helping Aang save the world or something, are white.

The ‘joke’ part was uncalled for and unqualified. I apologize. What bearing does the color of either race have on anything in the movie? None so why bring it up at all? Unless, of course, you believe that this was purposely done. And then I ask, “Why? Why would someone do that?”. With the only possible response being once concerning racial aspects and implications. I find it saddening that someone would look for, let alone believe to have found, racial overtones in what amounts to a film geared towards children. Especially one made (But not created) by someone of color! Perhaps ‘racist’ was not the correct word. Maybe ‘alarmist’ or something else? I can’t say for certain but I just don’t get what the heroes being white, black, red, orange or the bad guy brown, black, purple, green has to do with anything. Unless that is somehow perceived to be “unfair and labeling”. And please do not attempt to say that the heroes are Asian in the animated version. If so, I would like to see their interpretation of a white person.

I apologize if I over reacted and the color of the villain and hero does not matter in the slightest to you and that in fact it was mentioned accidentally or for no particular reason (Word count quota? :O ).

Chris
Chris
Fri, Jul 02, 2010 12:23am

MKS used white actors to play definitively non-white characters. But he left the bad guys brown. Simple as that.

Shadowen
Shadowen
Fri, Jul 02, 2010 12:27am

I think you would have loved the show, MaryAnn. Perhaps if I get a steady source of income I’ll get you a copy of the DVDs. Best kids’ show in the past decade, at least, and it had a large swath of viewers outside of its demographic, too.

As for the race of the characters…this is not a post-racial society. So yes, it matters. Main characters go from 1 racially ambiguous person and 2 people with strong Inuit/Native American appearances as the protagonists, and 1 probably-Asian person as the antagonist, to 3 pasty white people and 1 brown person, respectively.

Now, granted, Aang was racially ambiguous to me–you could easily see him as either East Asian or European ethnically–so casting him for a live action film was going to be problematic if you nailed down his ethnic background. But everything else? Changing the feel of the antagonists from Imperial Japan to South Asian?

In the words of the Internet: FAIL.

John
John
Fri, Jul 02, 2010 12:34am

http://www.amira-productions.com/images/aang-colored_small.jpg

http://drmikessteakdinner.com/uploads/avatar-the-last-airbender.jpg

You’re kidding right? Some of these Katara and Sokka appear to darker but it is not standard and they often look as white as they do in the other pictures. Aang…has always appeared to be nothing but 100% white.

Guess I need my vision tested if people are seriously going to suggest otherwise. Either way it’s a silly thing to bring up about a kids movie. And I’m Italian!

John
John
Fri, Jul 02, 2010 12:40am

I’ve always Zuko and most Fire nation to be white, as with Aang, and a mix with Katara, Sakka. With that just being the color and a mixture of nationalities as influences. Including U.S./Western Civilization along with Imperialist Japan for the Fire Nation.

BUT the really important thing to remember here is that kids DO NOT see in color or nationality, which at its most simple form is exactly what the movie is, A kids movie. And most assuredly what the cartoon is. These things play no important role, or should not for the kids if their parents are doing what they are suppose to be doing.

John
John
Fri, Jul 02, 2010 12:47am

I’m sorry I ever commented here. This debate doesn’t belong here. I apologize for that MaryAnn, I just could not believe it. I started reading the review got to that part and completely ignored the rest and dismissed what I had already read as someone I perceived to have some sort of agenda concerning race. I also apologize for that if it is not the case. I am usually much better at ignoring things I do not agree with or find to be outrageous.

Perhaps you can just delete the discussion and continue bashing the kids film.

amanohyo
amanohyo
Fri, Jul 02, 2010 1:22am

John, as you seem to have finally realized, you’re dismissing an entire review based on like two or three lines that simply point out the fact that in the movie, the good characters are white and the evil characters are non-white. Who is the one who is overreacting here? Who is the one who is oversensitive about race and racism?

MA mentioned race (briefly) in the review because racism exists and it still matters. The significant progress we have made in race relations in this country did not come about because people suddenly decided to pretend that race was a complete non-issue. Attempting to silence or discredit anyone who dares to talk about race is not going to move us any closer to a world free of racism.

As a non-white person in America, I do not “deal the race card.” Society has held the race card in front of my face every single day and told me in ways both subtle and straightforward, “this is your card – it is not as valuable as ours.” Some people give in and accept it (I like to think I never fully did), but those that don’t are not “dealing” anything. They are just trying to live the best life they can with what life has dealt them. Every time I try to burn my race card, someone (or some movie or some comment) pops up and deals me another.

Also, some of the best movies I have watched have been kids’ movies: The Wizard of Oz, The Neverending Story, Spirited Away, Monster’s Inc., Dumbo, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, etc. Just because kids like soda and candy bars doesn’t mean we can’t say the calories are empty and unhealthy and try to give them something better. Children deserve the best we have to offer.

JoshDM
JoshDM
Fri, Jul 02, 2010 1:26am

I think you would have loved the show, MaryAnn. Perhaps if I get a steady source of income I’ll get you a copy of the DVDs.

Don’t sweat it too much; as I stated earlier, we know she has both a Wii and a Netflix subscription. Which means she has Netflix Streaming to Wii (it is a free service – goto Netflix and get your free Wii disc). All three seasons of Airbender are available in instant mode to Netflix subscribers. Heck, you don’t even need a Wii to just watch them online. If she chooses to, she’ll watch them.

NB
NB
Fri, Jul 02, 2010 1:41am

Ugh, longtime reader pushed to comment at last because of irate person mad at mention of racism.

Kids DO see race. Maybe white kids don’t see race as much because white is the default, but you better believe Asian kids and black kids and Middle Eastern kids and First Nations kids see race. And it’s ridiculous the number of reports that have come out about Asian or First Nations kids feeling represented AT LAST in the cartoon. How do you suppose they feel when the few characters of their color are cast with white kids?

Shyamalan first got into the series because his own daughter liked Katara and dressed like her. I wonder how she feels about the film.

Anyway, great review as usual, MaryAnn. I’m glad that there’s at least one reviewer who’s ready to call out racism/misogyny in films, as well as approach them from a geeky perspective!

RMH
RMH
Fri, Jul 02, 2010 2:59am

First of all, I thought the animated series was amazing and I was well out of “childhood” when I began watching the series. I actually feel like the series was even geared towards older kids who definitely do grasp the concept of racial and cultural differences. I think one of the important points that the series provides, without being disgustingly outward about it, is that valuable lessons, events, and stories can and should breach all nationalities and cultures.
It’s important for our children and young adults to be able to relate to characters of other nationalities versus only relating to half of the pointless animated television shows about talking animals, aliens, or dumb pre-teens worried about their social life.
Think about it, would you rather have your child watch a show that teaches them about another culture while also providing a great plot, humor, and ORIGINAL story or a show has no educational value and is 100% completely mindless entertainment like sponge bob. I mean don’t get me wrong I do indulge in some sponge bob now and then but I always feel the slightest bit less intelligent after a few hours of the show.

Second of all, the movie adaptation completely failed in damn near every way possible and killed any chance of a sequel/wrapping up of the series. I feel like MKS completely disrespected the original writers of the series. I mean for christ sake, three of the main characters didn’t even have the correct pronunciation of their names. I also feel like he completely missed the mark on the target audience. In the theater I was in the youngest person i saw in couldn’t have been any younger than 15 and most were in their late teens to early twenties. In numerous instances, had I not been so disappointed, I found it almost insulting how dumb he found his audience to be. An audience should be able to figure out what’s going on. Unless the director isn’t doing his/her job, the audience doesn’t need to have a character out and out tell you “oh my, this is what’s happening.”

And lastly, regardless of how you perceived the race of the characters in the series, it is made very clear as to the intended race (whether the skin color looks white or not) of each nation based on the huge cultural clues and architecture as well as the dialogue content and style in several cases.

I have never once imagined any of the animated characters to be caucasian in descent simply because how oriental the settings of the Fire Nation and Earth Kingdom are, and I have always viewed the Water Tribes to be of some sort of inuit/Himalayan culture based on the little knowledge I was taught about the culture in late elementary/early middle school!
The only characters that might possibly be perceived as caucasian would be the Air Nomads, but again I feel that the architecture and culture that is used to represent them correlates strongly to a tibetan influence.

Jon
Jon
Fri, Jul 02, 2010 3:18am

This film looks terrible.Animation shouldn’t be converted to live-action. A Last Airbender movie might’ve worked if it was animated, but live-action? That’s like live-action Pokemon. It would just look bad.

By the way, I need a bigger version of that “absolutely nothing” pictre (from bias metere).

zids
zids
Fri, Jul 02, 2010 5:18am

Is the movie SERIOUSLY that bad? Like Batman & Robin, Battlefield Earth bad? Like this-is-so-bad-it’s-good-to-make-fun-of bad?

Because if that’s the case, MaryAnn, I suggest you change your recommendation to at least “Wait for DVD”.

MaryAnn
MaryAnn
Fri, Jul 02, 2010 8:48am

It is seriously that bad.

someone I perceived to have some sort of agenda concerning race.

Yes, I have an agenda concerning race. I’m tired of Hollywood whitewashing the stories it tells.

I think you would have loved the show, MaryAnn. Perhaps if I get a steady source of income I’ll get you a copy of the DVDs.

It’s not a lack of the DVDs that prevents me from watching it. A lack of time and interest is what prevents me from watching it.

Zoogz
Zoogz
Fri, Jul 02, 2010 9:45am

I’m glad to see that this movie will likely be made into a Rifftrax before the end of the year. This isn’t the first M. Night movie that Rifftrax has done, either… and both previous movies (Sixth Sense, The Happening) were very ably riffed by Mike Nelson and the crew.

Lucy Gillam
Lucy Gillam
Fri, Jul 02, 2010 10:22am

If race is important for no other reason in discussion of this movie,* it’s because the common rallying cry in defense of the casting has been, “best actors for the parts!” How can anyone possibly defend that when the reviews of the acting** have been uniformly dreadful?

* I actually think it’s important for many, many reasons, but to say it’s irrelevant to the quality discussions is silly.

** I should add that I don’t necessarily blame the actual actors for this. They were given a crap script and crap directing, and let’s face it: we can’t all be Ewan McGregor.