THE LAST AIRBENDER MOVIE REVIEW

24 Jun

For the first pop-culture entry on the OMC Tees blog, I’ve decided to post my review of M. Night Shayamalan’s upcoming film “The Last Airbender.” Last week, a friend of mine invited me to attend a special screening of the film. Despite never seeing the cartoon, I thought the trailer looked really cool and since I’m a BIG fan of martial arts films, I figured it would be a fun evening out. Plus, I wanted to give Mr. Shayamalan one last chance to impress me since he’s had a pretty spotty record since “The Sixth Sense.” Note: SPOILERS begin in paragraph four and they are announced.

First, let’s talk casting.  Judging by the previews, I assumed the movie was going to be a martial arts film set in Asia and was totally expecting to see a huge cast of Asian actors. Boy was I wrong! The first scene of the movie plays (after some really cool 3-D credits I might add) and to my surprise the main two characters Katara (Nicola Peltz) and Sokka (Jackson Rathbone) are white. A few moments later, the star of the film, Aang (Noah Ringer), is introduced and I found myself leaning over to my friend to whisper “is that kid Asian?” She replied, “I don’t know, maybe he’s mixed.” As the film progressed, and Ringer’s southern accent presented itself, I realized two things. One, the casting for this movie is way off and two, my hopes and dreams for a kid martial artist on the same level as Hung Man Ting (Miu Tse) from Jet Li’s “New Legend of Shaolin” (click here) were dashed.

On to the movie…Overall, I thought film was mediocre and all of the acting was pretty lousy across the board. The way the actors delivered each line of dialogue made me cringe and the people behind me sigh. It felt like the actors had spent so much time learning their lines that they had no time to work on making their characters believable. However, this may not have been all their fault since nearly every line of dialogue was so on the nose. Usually movies like this meticulously reveal just enough information about each character and the story to keep us intrigued…not this movie. If you want to know why Princess Yue has blue eyes, she’s going to tell you in a two minute dissertation EXACTLY why her eyes are blue. This struck me as odd since Mr. Shayamalan is known for his “twist” endings and was famously able to keep all of us in the dark with the big reveal in the “Sixth Sense.” I thought how could there be such mystery to those characters (from his other movies), yet these characters in Airbender are singing like canary’s every time they appear on the screen.

SPOILERS BEGIN HERE…

Sadly, character ambiguity wasn’t the only thing missing from this movie, there also seemed to be a lack of character development. Zuko (Dev Patel) and his father Firelord Ozai (Cliff Curtis) had some serious father/son beef in this film. This beef could have really been played out to be the ultimate family feud and give Zuko and Firelord Ozai some real character depth. Instead, their whole storyline fell totally flat with talk, talk, talk. There was a LOT of talking about what happened to make their relationship so estranged but there was no real action or scenes to show us firsthand how Zuko was banished from the family or how Firelord Ozai preferred Zuko’s sister over him. Actually, all talk and no action seemed to be the common theme throughout this entire film.

Two more characters who suffered from Mr. Shayamalan’s zero character development syndrome was Sokka and Princess Yue. Instead of us slowly watching their love for each other grow, we simply see Sokka arrive at the Water Nation one day, he makes eye contact with Princess Yue for a moment, and then abracadabra…in the very next scene, they’re deeply in love. Of course one of the main characters comes out and tells us that they’ve now been at the Water Nation for weeks now but we never get the chance to see this. Therefore it feels rushed and we don’t really get a chance to explore the Water Nation with the main characters before the bad guys arrive. Sigh.

Finally there was Aang. I really wanted to care for Aang but the nonchalant way his back story was presented made it really hard to feel sorry for him. So he runs away from the monastery and when he returns a hundred years later, all of the monks who raised him have been annihilated by the Fire Nation. That’s a pretty dire situation for a kid to deal with. Unfortunately, all the film shows us when Aang returns to the scene of the crime is a sea of skeletons scattered across a field. Aang looked pretty sad but the audience sure didn’t seem to care. I think for us to really feel something for Aang it might have worked better if maybe we see him run away right before the monastery is invaded. This way we have an emotional connection to what Aang is feeling when he returns home. A similar film that did this well and rather quickly was “The Golden Child.” Before the Golden Child was kidnapped by Sardo Numspa and his cronies, there was a scene where several monks were killed in order for them to kidnap the Golden Child. Without two words of dialogue, this scene made us feel sorry for the Golden Child since he’s just witnessed his people being wiped out right before his eyes and we know that this kid must be something special for Numspa to go through so much trouble to get him.

What was good about the movie you might ask? Well, Shaun Toub was really good as Uncle Iroh, he presented some depth with his character but unfortunately it was never totally fleshed out. M. Night Shayamalan finally did a movie where he didn’t cast himself. The film also had some really nice special effects and the costumes were outstanding.  James Newton Howard did a phenomenal job with composing the music from start to finish. He’s sure to get another Oscar nom for this one. And eventhough Dev Patel’s portrayal of Zuko started out with a lot of overacting, he improved a lot by the end of the movie.

To conclude, my main issue with Airbender was its lack of subtlety. Shayamalan had a tendency through the film and its dialogue to force feed us every little nugget of information rather than trusting that we ‘d be smart enough to figure  things out for ourselves. Having not seen the cartoon, I can’t really comment on whether the movie does or does not do it justice. However, I will say that as a martial arts, fantasy action film, Airbender was pretty painful to watch. The film ended with a total set-up for the sequel to come but after reading about all the controversy surrounding the casting choices and the lackluster performances in the movie, I have to wonder if Part II will ever see the light of day. I’m really interested to see what happens when the film hits theaters next week.
Purple Hearts to All,


Renaissance Girl
“Saving the world, one “EPIC” tee at a time”

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116 Responses to “THE LAST AIRBENDER MOVIE REVIEW”

  1. nemogbr June 24, 2010 at 3:19 pm #

    Thanks for this review. As you may be aware both fans and non-fans are now locked in wars across the internet on whether this film is an example of systemic racism in Hollywood.

    For example, Paramount Studios from year 2000 has produced 130+ films with mostly the default white male protagonist. 20 had Black protagonists, but zero films with Native, Latino or Asian protagonists.

    From that data, there is something wrong considering that in 2009, 2 out of every 5 cinema tickets sold, were bought by Latino Americans.

    Thanks.

    • R-Girl June 24, 2010 at 7:04 pm #

      Yeah after the movie my friend explained to me the controversy that has been surrounding the film. So when I got home I looked it up. It’s crazy how Hollywood does things but all we can really do is vote or not vote with our money :-).

  2. Sam June 24, 2010 at 3:57 pm #

    Yikes…. So…. Was it like so bad that it was completely unenjoyable? Or just too-bad-for-your-tastes kind of thing?
    (also who cares if sokka and katara are white if you saw the trailers I don’t see why you didn’t already know that. Saying a white person can’t play a certain role is just as racist as saying an Asian can’t play a certain role so let’s not go there.)

    • R-Girl June 24, 2010 at 7:01 pm #

      That’s what I’m waiting to see if it was just me. I wasn’t a viewer of the show so I don’t know if my gripes with the movie comes from not ever seeing Avatar. I will say that there was no applause at the end of the movie from the audience and afterwards everyone just kind of looked at each other. I stood outside the theater talking to friends afterwards and heard no one leaving the theater commenting on the movie being great. There seemed to be a lot of folks shaking their heads and looking perplexed. Out of the five people I saw the movie with, only one person actually liked it and she actually watched the show so go figure. As for Katara and Sokka being white, I never said a white person can’t play a certain role. I just expected that a movie that so heavily used the Asian culture would actually have a main cast of Asian actors…that is all.

      • Sam June 24, 2010 at 8:11 pm #

        Okay thank you for the response. That’s really disappointing that the movie was not good. Do you think there is absolutely no chance of a sequel? Because I’m assuming the movie ended with Zuko’s sister and Ozai and that is pretty much an announcement that they’re looking for another installment.

      • R-Girl June 24, 2010 at 8:35 pm #

        There’s always a chance for a sequel. I guess it just depends on how much money it brings in and what the audience reaction is when the film actually hits theaters. If it makes money but everybody hates it, I’m sure Paramount will have to think about whether or not they want to spend money on a sequel that may or may not bring in cash the second time. :-/ If it makes money and the majority of folks are pleased with the film you can bet that there will be sequel or three.

    • nemogbr June 24, 2010 at 9:45 pm #

      It does come across as discriminatory when the main characters are of a different ethnicity to the background extras.

      Case in point: Rathbone and Peltz in front of the tribe of Inuits in Greenland.

      Claiming that their grandmother is from the Northern Tribe does not hold water, when they are third generation immigrants. Katara and Sokka would only be one quarter Northern Tribe.

  3. womzee June 24, 2010 at 4:11 pm #

    The movie is NOT set in Asia!
    Its a made up fantasy world inspired by many diiferent cultures(mostly asian cultures).

    Also it has no twists because its based on the TV show Avatar the last airbender.

    • nemogbr June 24, 2010 at 9:47 pm #

      Lord of the Rings was not set in europe either, yet for some reason no one thought it strange to have all white/European thespians cast for the characters.

      It only needed to become Hollywood diverse when it is set in an Asian mythos.

      • Esoteric June 28, 2010 at 10:53 pm #

        Uh, you’re wrong about Lord of the Rings. Tolkien’s world was meant to be an alternate history of Europe.

    • mo June 27, 2010 at 4:33 am #

      actually a lot of elements of earth and fire kingdom(architecture/clothing)are influenced by Chinese culture, they even give them chinese names, heibai(the panda, which means black and white), Daili…etc

    • MAHHH June 28, 2010 at 6:03 pm #

      yea totally. as soon as this chick said that ozai and zukos relationship isnt flushed out enough is because they explain it in the later seasons.

      the reason sokka and yue are in love in seconds is because its supposed to be like puppy love almost. thats just how it was in the show.

      a lot of everyones backgrounds are left out in the first season.

      i think lots of fans of the show will see it-enough to make a sequal

      • JackalKiller June 28, 2010 at 6:47 pm #

        Actually, Zuko’s relationship with his father was told around halfway through the first season. While the complexity of it wasn’t fleshed out until the later seasons, the basic knowledge that it was strained was still known and explained in a suitable way. The difference is that their relationship in the film is told rather than shown, which makes it seem far less complex than it really is.

        Also, Sokka and Yue’s relationship began and developed through three episodes, so about 1 hour and 6 minutes of time was devoted to showing their relationship as well as give proper time in-between to let it “sit”. It was short, but it never felt rushed. Conversely, their relationship begins within the last 15 minutes of the movie, presumably immediately before the final action sequence begins. That definitely feels rushed.

  4. Dark June 24, 2010 at 4:46 pm #

    Thank you for ruining the movie. Your a bad critic , very bad one indeed .You don’t deliver anything but nonsense and garbage. If you were very strong sighted to see into the characters from the beginning most people do not have mind powers like you do…

    • Jason June 27, 2010 at 3:10 am #

      I agree with you completely, he’s a horrible critic. I even doubt he even watched the film yet and that this is all just some random rant.

      • Dan June 28, 2010 at 4:04 pm #

        I agree too, this was a terrible review of the movie especially because he never even watched the show. They are not Asian and there was always a lot of talking in the show (which is why it’s in the movie). Also, probably the reason for not a lot of background is because there was a TV show for people to watch and learn the background. It’s a long show and to put all of everyone’s background into this would just be a nightmare.

  5. AceScope June 24, 2010 at 5:41 pm #

    Hey just wondering if the movie had alot of comedy on it? From what I have seen in previews and such it does not seem to have any. In the Cartoon Series there was a lot of good comedy mixed in and you could really get close with the characters but from your review it doesnt seem likely.

    • R-Girl June 24, 2010 at 6:49 pm #

      Not a lot of comedy. After watching the movie I went back and read about the show and saw that it had comedy mixed in. There was a funny line here and there but not a lot.

  6. Me June 24, 2010 at 6:21 pm #

    Shyamalan’s a really artistic director (lousy writer though) and I noticed that you hardly mentioned the cinematography at all. Was it any good? The way you describe this movie, it’s nothing but a lot of poorly acted dialogue, but the trailers say otherwise.

    • R-Girl June 24, 2010 at 7:09 pm #

      Cinematography was great but there was something weird happening with the editing. The film was kind of jumpy in places.

  7. ann June 24, 2010 at 6:52 pm #

    Just shut up!
    How profesional can you review be uf you did not study the sourse material before se an adaptation.
    That is exactly how first book of water is!
    Is the one that has less weigh in it , caracters grow in the next books and you find out the answer to those idiotic cuestions that you are asking about aang leaving the monastery and so on….
    Ps:
    Nobody notice you absolutely hate the producer
    how objetive can you be?

    • R-Girl June 24, 2010 at 7:12 pm #

      Sorry but I wasn’t interested in studying before seeing a movie. A movie is supposed to entertain and this movie did not do that. I don’t hate the producer. Sixth Sense was one of the best thrillers I’ve ever seen.

    • nemogbr June 24, 2010 at 9:49 pm #

      Why did she need to study the original?
      The film was made to stand up on it’s own. Reasons as to why they got rid of many things like the Chinese calligraphy and made Ringer’s tattoo look to be a cross.

      They probably made the fight scenes more kicks from Power Rangers than proper wushu.

    • Sandy June 30, 2010 at 6:10 pm #

      Many of the general populace have not seen the original TV show, nor should it be a requirement to do so. Do you always know reference material behind EVERY movie you watch? Do you go and research EVERY movie’s original source material before you go watch it? I think not! Movies function as ENTERTAINMENT, not research papers. Furthermore, as a film it should be able to stand on it’s own and should not rely on the audience knowing the story beforehand.

  8. ann June 24, 2010 at 6:59 pm #

    That is so funny Suko overacting?Is that bad?
    He overacts , he is grumpy ,humorless, monolitic, and complicated.
    That is exactly how suko is!

  9. kristy June 24, 2010 at 7:08 pm #

    Let me tell you something….
    Nobody notice you are a racebender in disguise trying to put the movie down playing the race card.
    Really nobody notice !
    You are safe, they make even think you are giving an objective review.

    • R-Girl June 24, 2010 at 7:13 pm #

      What exactly is a “Racebender?”

      • kristy June 24, 2010 at 7:58 pm #

        Pretend you don’t know what is a racebender!
        Great!
        You are really good congratulations!

        They also won’t notice the first comment it is totally a set up to keep playing the race card against the film giving us staticstics.

        wow again really good set up
        People make even think it is true you found out about the controversy with the cast after the film.

        But you just missed the little detail of
        ” I thought the trailer looked really cool ”
        but the
        “to my surprise the main two characters Katara (Nicola Peltz) and Sokka (Jackson Rathbone) are white ”
        is just not convincing
        considering that if you really had seen the trailer you will know already they were white.
        Opps!

        But the stellar part that need an Oscar is this
        “It’s crazy how Hollywood does things but ALL WE CAN REALLY DO IS VOTE OR NOT VOTE with our money.

        Indirectly inviting people to boycott the film?
        That is just genious!!!!
        Again don’t worry nobody will notice , probably I am the only one that only pick a little details like those

      • Sam June 24, 2010 at 8:02 pm #

        Ignore them, they are jumping to conclusions. A “racebender” is a person who either will go into the movie hating it or will just boycott the movie altogether because of the race controversy. You do not seem like one of them just because you mentioned race, Kristy jumped to the conclusion that you were.

      • R-Girl June 24, 2010 at 8:48 pm #

        @Kristy. This wasn’t a movie that was exactly on my radar. I actually almost didn’t go to the screening but decided last minute to attend. I saw the trailer months ago and thought it looked really cool. Frankly the only person I remember seeing in the trailer and who captured my attention was the kid. I went into this movie thinking two things…this was M. Night’s epic and from what I could remember from the trailer it had some really cool looking martial arts and special effects. But you don’t have to take my word for it, the movie comes out next week. I’m actually hoping folks go see it so I can hear what their reactions are compared to mine.

      • kristy June 25, 2010 at 4:08 pm #

        Since you are so interested in hear people ractions and I am interested in unbiased reviews that don’t play the race card to put down the movie ,
        I left a couple and the readers that don’t include race staments


        http://www1.epinions.com/review/The_Last_Airbender/content_514464714372

      • Chris of EVE OF RELEASE June 27, 2010 at 6:48 am #

        Aaaaaaaahahahaahahahahahahha! Busted r-girl! You are so full of crap it makes me sick and I can smell u from here.. how can u say u had no idea they were white when the movie kicked in and then claim u liked the trailer? Don’t worry, the movie sounded terrific, even with your bias review. You described it EXACTLY like the cartoon is, down to Zukos over anger and the fact that they save the father-son relationship details for the next film. It sounds like Knight kept to the essence of the cartoon perfectly. Does r-girl stand for racebender girl? lol

  10. Burnometer June 24, 2010 at 8:05 pm #

    Adaptations are always difficult. I’ve watched the animated series a few times through, including listening to directors commentary. The purpose of the first book is to set up the overall story. The second book (season) covers all the back story including the introduction of Zuko’s sister and the family tension. This is also when Aang learns earthbending. The last season ties everything together from the first two seasons.

    The difficulty with this adaptation is the amount of detail that the show’s creators included throughout the entire series. I’m sure it was hard for M. Knight do decide what to cut out and leave in since the tv show had so much substance.

    Just to clarify some things:
    -Aang left before the firebenders invaded. He ran away because the other monks were debating separating Aang from his father figure so he could start his Avatar training four years earlier than he was supposed to. In the show when Aang returns to the Southern Air Tempple he finds the skeleton of his mentor and instinctly goes into the Avatar State from his sadness.

    -Also in the show Yue still has her father around as the chief of the Norther Water Tribe. This allows her to be more of a princess than a leader. Sokka and Yue had ‘three episodes’ to develop their relationship along with Aang’s waterbending training. The Norther Water Tribe also has arranged marriages in which Yue was pledged to a jerk. This added some tension to the love triangle.

    • Burnometer June 24, 2010 at 8:20 pm #

      I also forgot to mention that M. Knight watched the show with his daughters. That inspired him to make the movie. Since the story is not originally his, it has no twists that you would normally expect from a story he wrote himself.

  11. coolmartfloyd June 24, 2010 at 9:04 pm #

    this review doesn’t really matter considering we got more positive reviews out there…..

  12. Kagekidan June 24, 2010 at 9:30 pm #

    Thank you for this review. This wasn’t a film that was on my radar at all and as a fan of the series (long before the casting controversy) I shook my head at the prospect of a live action movie. Not that it’s NOT possible to bring something epic as Avatar to the big screen, but I highly doubted that it would translate well…

    I don’t think your review was in any way biased. I think that you articulate well the flaws of a film that HAD the POTENTIAL to be epic but missed the mark.

    I mean, do good films force-feed us information through choppy dialogue? Or do good films sell us out with cheap action choreography, while banking on the hope that the fanbase would be too pleased with a live-action adaptation to watch it? Are those the signs of a good movie?

    As someone said up top, there was so much detail, so much heart put into the making of Avatar that took years to develop (If the artbook is anything to go by). From the reviews I’ve seen, it looks like the producers just wanted a film right out there and fast. Unfortunate circumstances indeed, but like I said, this film had a lot of potential.

    It had the right source material that would have made it so novel, so epic… But it was executed poorly. :/ Such a shame it turned out like that, and in such an obvious way, too.

    • Shane June 26, 2010 at 6:45 pm #

      This is one review man. This does not determine whether you should see this or not. You haven’t seen the film either, so you don’t know whether it’s going to suck or not.

  13. Sandy June 24, 2010 at 10:08 pm #

    The cartoon on which this movie is adapted from is not just about “martial arts” so not having Asian actors shouldn’t bother you. It’s as much “fantasy” as “martial arts.” One gets to take liberties in the fantasy genre. Now, in the original material, only a couple of main (or recurring) characters look fully Asian (Uncle Iroh being about the only one I can recall off the top of my head). Now had the source material contained all or mostly Asian looking characters and the movie not, then I’d take issue. Given that the director is Asian American himself (people from India are of Indian heritage are considered Asian), I hardly doubt he’s racist. After all, just what does an ASIAN look like? There is quite a variety.

    Of course then one could argue that Will Smith shouldn’t have played Robert Neville in I Am Legend and a Moor must always “look” like a Moor in Othello so forget high school performances of THAT play in most any part of Montana….now that’s just silly.

    The rest of your review seems fine, however, while you needn’t do “research” or “studying” prior to reviewing movies adapted from CURRENTLY popular source material, it is a good idea to at least familiarize yourself with it. Quite frankly, your comments regarding the race of the characters seem ignorant given that Aang in the cartoon didn’t “look” any more Asian than Aang from the movie. Again, depending on how you define Asian appearance.

    • Matt June 24, 2010 at 11:01 pm #

      So what are you saying, asians only function in movies is martial arts and that they should only be included if that’s all the movie is about?? The fact is Hollywood refuses to utilize asian characters in lead parts unless it’s a karate/kung fu movie or Vietnam war/asian historical biopic. Or an asian woman as a sex object. So I guess you have the same way of thinking as they do.

      In the original anime, all the characters are created and influenced from asian culture and religions and mythology, mainly chinese, japanese and indian (which is what got M. Night interested). Alot of anime characters look similar but that doesn’t mean they’re not supposed to be asian. I don’t have a problem with the movie changing a few characters and casting white actors but I’ve seen the cartoon and the main characters were not meant to be white characters in an asian environment. But would it really have been so hard to make one or two of the main characters asian, like in the original instead of making them all white?? This is the exact same thing they did with Dragonball Z and Forbidden Kingdom where they didnt trust the audience to follow an asian protagonist so they put a goofy white no-name actor in.

      As for M. Night’s casting decisions, trust me, he’s walking on thin ice as it is after his last three bombs (I’m surprised they even let him direct another movie), so he’ll do whatever the studios say without fuss. He’s probably lucky to get the kid from Slumdog Millionaire in there to support his own nationality.

  14. Steve June 24, 2010 at 11:13 pm #

    Thanks for doing this review. I’m glad to hear the opinion of someone who hasn’t had prior exposure to the series and the controversy. Even happier to know that from an unbiased opinion, the movie still sucked. That said, if I were you, I would watch the original cartoon series. By comparison, the source material is easily the best cartoon series ever to come out of America (I’m not even exaggerating), and it will fill you in on all of the plot holes you found in the movie without all of the awful acting. Cheers!

  15. Dave June 25, 2010 at 12:05 am #

    So what you did even notice the asian earthbenders. Oh What there were asians in the film, oh snap the fact you saw the trailer you should noticed that there the actors were caucasian. And you expected Asians just because of a little segment of earthbending, sorry im confuessed.

    @steve, you serious your thankful for the guys review ?

    We dont even know how good he is at reviews this is his FIRST, that doesnt make him a good critic! wow your faith in humanity admirable. I wish i could trust people

    Reason for posting this rant because this reviews sounds fake and rubbish and backing up what Kristy said.

    and yes i will watch it make up my mind.

    • R-Girl June 25, 2010 at 12:47 am #

      The Asian earthbenders were only in the movie for five minutes (if even that long). They were there for like one fight scene and then they didn’t show them for the remainder of the film. They were pretty much treated as glorified extras in my opinion. This blog is brand new and that’s why there are not too many posts as of yet. Pardon me for making one of my first posts in my pop-culture blog about a movie that I actually went to see
      :-). If you want to check back in a few weeks I’m sure there will be several more posts about new movies, interesting things happening in politics, as well as funny stuff going on in the world. I’d love to hear your thoughts on the movie after you check it out.

      • Juan June 25, 2010 at 3:44 am #

        because the first book is water the second one is earth.

        sorry about my english im latino.
        i dont know if you really see the movie and i dont care. i just dont wanna see a japanese aang, or a chinise katara and sokka. and its silly to say that the movie is bad because the cast is white. and if in fact you saw the movie why you don talk about cinematography, the script or the fx.

  16. corwin June 25, 2010 at 4:08 am #

    I’m a huge fan of martial arts movies also but I’ve never questioned when there were opening scenes with non-Asian actors in it. I don’t know what the stories are so I actually wait to see where the story goes.

    You immediately comment on being surprised in the first few moments that Katara and Sokka are white. Really? Why was your expectation that they were Asian unless you already knew who the characters were?

    You then proceed to criticize the dialogue a little and race and accents a lot. In fact it seems that you are unnaturally preoccupied with race. More so than I am and I’m of mixed Asian descent. It’s part of my nature to look at things like that but you go much farther.

    You try to make the claim that you’re primary objection was the lack of subtlety and lack of mystery but that’s clearly a diversion from your main issue which was race.

    You knew exactly what you wanted to do here and it looks like you’ve managed to fool most of the naive posters here.

    One final thing to say is that some of the “supposedly” random comments manage to ask you just the right kind of questions to allow you to expand on that issue.

    By reading some of the other comments some might think this racebending issue is a big battle among fans. It’s not. The petition being circulated in opposition to the movie makes up less than one percent of the active fan base.

    In fact – they are a minority.

    Rather ironic.

    This film is opening a day earlier than expected due to the overwhelmingly positive early screenings. The studio is so happy with early reviews that they have announced funding for part two and three to be simultaneous.

    The assertions you make are outliers to all the other independent sources writing reviews so I think it’s safe to take their word over yours. Hopefully anyone else wandering this way will realize that you have an agenda and move along to more objective sites.

    • R-Girl June 25, 2010 at 4:38 am #

      I’m not sure what you think I have to gain by telling my opinion on my blog about a movie I saw. As a person of color myself, I notice race everywhere I go. It was my expectation for them to be Asian because there are not too many films (Crouching Tiger, Fearless, etc.) dealing heavily with martial arts and the Asian culture (like this film) that don’t have Asian actors. Once again, I had never seen the cartoon so I was expecting something else. So yes when the movie began and those two characters showed up I wondered what they were doing in this film.

      I criticized dialogue a LOT because it was really bad and I mentioned once that Noah had a southern accent. I’m from the south so I noticed, maybe you won’t. I did not like the film very much at all as you can see from my review and neither did several of my friends who watched it with me but you may like it just fine. I’m not going to get into a race debate with you about this movie because it is just a movie. Also, if you believing that I have some G4 classified ulterior motive behind my review in order to feel better about the movie, that’s cool. I gain nothing either way it goes. As I said before I hope folks do go see the movie just so I can see if they notice some of the same things I noticed. I look forward to hearing from you after you’ve seen the film 🙂

      • will June 27, 2010 at 1:59 am #

        lemme get this straight ….
        this kid has a southern accent???? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Iy1oeEdkbs

        sounds like a racebender who assumed he would have a southern accent because you saw he was from Texas.

      • R-Girl June 27, 2010 at 8:06 pm #

        I knew he had a southern accent from listening to him talk during the entire film. He has a southern twang in his tone of voice. You might not notice but I’m from the south so I noticed.

      • nigel June 27, 2010 at 5:16 am #

        i think ur blog was just a little blind in my opinion just because of u not knowing the backstories but there are plenty of martial arts movies that have white lead actors…such as any chuck norris movie or any jason statham or steven seagal movie all of whom have made their presence known in the martial arts world in one way or another with many films at that…but ur blog is an opinion and i believe that the only people who will truly appreciate this movie for what it is are the people who are familiar with the cartoon

      • R-Girl June 27, 2010 at 8:03 pm #

        As I said before Redbelt as well as the actors of films you’ve mentioned above (which I have seen) use martial arts and that’s all. However, this film pretty much used everything from the Asian culture except for Asian actors in a leading role. If you’re going to use their traditional clothing, hairstyle, fighting styles, calligraphy, temples, etc. and not include them in the film is just wrong.

  17. K-Ed June 25, 2010 at 7:44 am #

    Thanks for the review, R-Girl. I’ve been a big fan of the tv series for years and had decided about 11 months ago that I would not be giving any money to Paramount by purchasing a ticket to watch this film due to their casting procedures.
    But after reading your review, I feel quite tempted to go pay and watch the movie asap just to see if it really is as crappy as you say.
    I was dreading the release of this movie for about a year now, but after reading your review–the opinion of someone who was unfamiliar with the original source material and who thought the movie sucked based on the grounds of poor dialogue, weak preformances, choppy cinematography, and the courage to ask, “what the hell are white people doing in this movie?”–I feel kinda excited to see just how sucky this movie really is going to be!
    Thanks! 😀

  18. Orwell June 25, 2010 at 8:48 am #

    Thanks for the review. As you can see from the other posts there is a division in the fan base of the original series to do with the race issue.
    While I think it’s good that you only found out about this after seeing the movie as I wanted to hear an unbiased review. To the people who try to turn this into some race debate please note that this is her personal review. You claim that there are plenty of positive reviews out there so don’t get pissed when you come across a negative review.
    In fact you would do a big favour for those who are still deciding whether to go or not by giving the links to other review, note that the writer said she wants to see other people’s opinions on this film in comparison to hers. Give the links!!!
    Don’t judge one’s opinion you can’t expect everyone to be happy with the film especially when you are well aware of racebenders who definitely aren’t happy!!!
    If you don’t like the review, wait till you see the movie and then make your own and display it here!! If you’ve nothing else to say besides bashing the writer of this review as being biased, then don’t comment till you have your own review, end of story!
    I on the other hand will give you links when I come across any other reviews, and when I do eventually see the movie, i’ll get back at you. Cheers!!! 😀

  19. Miley Sinus June 25, 2010 at 6:10 pm #

    It looks like M Night’s half-assed foray into anime and martial arts and massive CGI. I applaud him for going outside his comfort zone, but wish he could have picked something where he has an eye for the scene or experience in the scene-setting.

    Judging from the trailer only, the movie looks like an uninteresting fast-cut CGI fest, and your review doesn’t pull me away from this view.

    Just a couple of points about you and your review… first, the purple girl is so HOT I can’t help but stare at you.

    Second, concerning exposition, you say:
    ***If you want to know why Princess Yue has blue eyes, she’s going to tell you in a two minute dissertation EXACTLY why her eyes are blue. This struck me as odd since Mr. Shayamalan is known for his “twist” endings and was famously able to keep all of us in the dark with the big reveal in the “Sixth Sense.” ***

    Well, Shyamalan sure wrote an excellent script for Sixth Sense, but since then he has been Mr. Exposition when it comes to filling the reader in about what he’s trying to accomplish on-screen. Think of the exposition montage that ended Unbreakable, the confusing radio announcements and UFO book that were the backbone to the Signs story, the long explanation by the William Hurt character in Village about why they behaved so sillily. After Sixth Sense, Shyamalan gave up rule #1 of filmmaking: “Show, don’t tell”, and went the lazy way: “Tell, tell, tell”. Lady in the Water needed a whack of exposition at the start and then a good dose in every scene just to explain what the @&**%^ was going on in the writer’s mind. Happening had a pile of unnecessary exposition (“Welcome to my house, I have a speaking tube inthe basement for communication between buildings”), but exposition was not that film’s main problem. So yeah, I’m not surprised that a princess will launch into 2 minutes about her eyes in ATLA; it will proably be crucial to the film.

    Enough chatter, back to staring at your avatar.

  20. MaxH2c June 25, 2010 at 9:38 pm #

    Dude please just admit that you made this up. Clearly, you are out to critisize this movie every chance you get. And from what I have read, I could make this up from past reviews and trailers alone. I have not heard anything new from you mate. I am still gonna watch it and so are those who read your review. YOU SUCK

  21. aznhomieboi1689 June 25, 2010 at 9:48 pm #

    Thanks for the review. Ignoring the other comments, I think you reviewed it honestly and that’s a good thing for me. I am looking forward to see myself how this movie really goes, because the trailers look awesome in my opinion, but maybe because Paramount spent a lot of money in advertising it.

    I will be watching it next week, I’ll see how it goes! But I hope I won’t be disappointed that much because I am a fan of the animated series.

  22. aznhomieboi1689 June 25, 2010 at 9:50 pm #

    Thanks for the review, it was very honest! Don’t listen to the other people hating on your review, I believe you were very truthful.

    I am looking forward to this movie, I am a fan of the series and I hope to see it. From your review, it disappoints me to hear that the dialogue was bad, perhaps M. Night needs to direct only not write.

    But I will make my final judgments later.

  23. Jay June 25, 2010 at 11:29 pm #

    Awesome review. You touched on a few things I was worried would go wrong.

    Since this is adapted from a cartoon series (which you should see now cuz its AMAZING) it had the potential to be choppy and convoluted to get all these stories in. However the sign of a good writer and a good director is to take the most importants aspects and make them flow in a decent amount of time. From the clips that have been leaked, it doesn’t look like that was the case.

    I haven’t seen it yet so I can’t say how the story will flow but the acting looked Horendous! Like Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lighting Thief, I get an inkling suspicion I wont be able to watch this all the way through.

  24. Ben June 26, 2010 at 12:19 am #

    R-Girl,

    Did you happen to notice how ravenous fans of the series are and does it damage your trust in the essential goodness of the human condition to see so many people upset about any negative attention to a cartoon show based franchise?

    • R-Girl June 26, 2010 at 12:47 am #

      Lol,

      Actually I expected a lot worst after realizing that this movie was based on a highly successful cartoon that has garnered a LOT of fanboys and fangirls. So far folks have seemed a little perturbed but thankfully nobody has been vicious. I think my superpowers of love are working :-). I kind of wish I had waited to post my review next week so I wouldn’t have to wait so long for folks to see the movie and give their thoughts on it. And no ravenous fans don’t damage my trust in the essential goodness of the human condition :-). They just seem to REALLY care about something they love (which I understand) and they want to protect it at all costs.

  25. Robbie White June 26, 2010 at 11:24 am #

    Wow! You go see a movie that has martial arts in it and the first thing you think is “Where are all the Asian actors?” How racist are you?

    • R-Girl June 26, 2010 at 6:39 pm #

      “Redbelt” was a movie about martial arts and it didn’t necesarily have Asian actors. “The Last Airbender” was a martial arts movie where the characters wore traditional Asian clothes, visited temples nearly identical to the ones I visited while in Asia, and the entire film heavily borrowed from the Asian culture…yet there were barely any Asians in the movie. There’s a difference. Every movie that uses martial arts isn’t an “Asian” movie but a film that pretty much mimics their culture (shaved heads, traditional garb, temples, buddhist monks, etc.) throughout the entire film without including them is just a shame.

      If I’m a racist for feeling that they should be included, then you’re a racist for feeling that they shouldn’t 🙂

      • John June 27, 2010 at 3:31 am #

        R-Girl, please try to not let idiots such as Robbie White get to you. The race controversy has caused alot of the movie fanboys and fangirls to start tossing out the word racist without even understanding what it means.

  26. Seamonk June 27, 2010 at 1:39 am #

    It took me a while to get around to watching the cartoon series. It was 3 seasons long and very enjoyable. However, from your review of the movie, it seems that the movie will not be the same. Trailer wise, I see a lot of the similarities and from what I can tell, this movie is only about the first season(‘book’).

    In the first season, we’re basically introduced to the characters, have some of the questions asked, and some of them quickly answered. It’s purely to set up the next set of events. On its own, this movie itself will probably not make any sense or leave you with any sense of fulfillment unless you’ve watched the show. And like most /cartoon/ adaptations, the live-action acting will probably never live up to it’s voice-acting counterpart.

    Another thing is, although the movie does seem to have an ‘Asian’ setting, it actually doesn’t. It’s more-so ‘Asian’ inspired. So it actually wasn’t necessary to have Asian actors to do it. The act of ‘bending’, while it looks similar to martial arts or wushu, is not the same. So you really don’t need people who actually know Martial Arts.

    Last, I haven’t seen the movie, and probably won’t see it until it’s out in theatres or until out on dvd. I really don’t expect a less than 2 hr movie to truly capture anything other than the main plot driving events, but not the stuff in between that the cartoon series was known for. For example, Lord of the Rings was a highly anticipated high budget trilogy that pushed over 3 hrs per movie and even then it was barely able to capture the image Tolkien was looking for. For ‘The Last Airbender’ to come close to that, it has to be able to stand up on its own, and from what I can tell, unless you’ve watched the cartoon, you probably won’t appreciate it otherwise.

    I’d have to agree with the reviewer, even though I am a fan of the cartoon, this movie is probably going to be one that “left a lot to be desired”.

    PS: You should still watch the cartoon. :p

    • nemogbr June 28, 2010 at 1:36 pm #

      Asian inspired, yet not necessary to have an asian cast, apart from the villains and background extras.

      That’s like saying African inspired yet not necessary to have a black cast. Then again, they attempted to do so with “Anansi Boys”, by turning the African gods children into white people. Good thing Neil Gaiman said no to the offer.

  27. Jihad June 27, 2010 at 1:50 am #

    Wow, This person didnt even watch the movie. Its so obvious. He/SHE is a “racebender”

  28. Chris Stevens June 27, 2010 at 1:53 am #

    Dude, hats off to you for speaking your mind and having to put up with a lot of defensive people who don’t want to hear that someone doesn’t agree with their opinions of a movie they haven’t even seen yet! The original show was amazing and worth checking out though! Don’t let loud and or rude fans ruin it for you though. Not all of them are crazy!

  29. Thomas June 27, 2010 at 2:23 am #

    R-Girl, when you are looking at this movie – it is really important to look at it as a piece of a whole.

    I know this is your opinion – but this is almost the equivalent of writing a review on a movie when you only watched a third of it.

    Why?

    This movie covers only a third of the story line. Literally.

    The series is too big to fit into a single movie.
    It spans a year, and (If I am correct) the biggest plot development break lasts a month.

    The series has three seasons; Each season covers the element that Aang is currently trying to Master, as well as the progression of the war.

    You are saying that this movie should stand by itself, and not rely on knowledge of the series – That is fine.

    Problem is; we are not looking at a movie based on a single book, or a movie that covers the whole series –
    We are looking at a movie based off of a single season of the show.

    Generally, if there is a movie that is based off of a story and only covers a third of said story – we are looking at a trilogy in the making…

    A single movie in a trilogy is not meant to stand up by itself, it is meant to build off of each other.

    The start of the show was probably the least selling part of the series. The action, climax, and plot development snowballs.

    The start of the series is Aang finding out what happened to his fellow nomads, the rest of the world, and learning Water Bending. It sets everything up for Season 2 and Season 3.

    Thinking about it now, the movie is probably not going to be the most fulfilling, but as long as it is enough to make way for the other two sequels, I will enjoy it, and probably enjoy it when all three are out.

    ————-
    Earth Benders
    ————-

    You mentioned that there were hardly any Earth Benders:

    * This movie covers the first season of the show.

    * The first season of the show is labeled ‘ Book 1: Water’. For obvious reasons, you do not see a lot of Earth Benders.

    * Season two is labeled ‘Book 2: Earth’
    That is when the Earth Kingdom makes its appearance.

    ———————————————————
    I do not feel sorry for Aang – Lack of Plot Developement
    ———————————————————

    From how it sounds, they could probably have done a better job of making you feel sorry for him.

    I will get this out of the way really quick.

    You suggested that they show him running away from the monks, right before their destruction.

    The monks were not destroyed RIGHT after he left. Remember, he was frozen for 100 years.

    The fire benders used the arrival of a comet to deal a devastating blow to the nations. Knowing that the avatar was reincarnated into the air-nomad tribe, they took them out first, hopping to kill the avatar before he could learn the elements. Aang ran away because he was rushed into training while he was a kid – something previous avatars waited until they were sixteen to do.

    Thing is; you don’t really feel sorry for him too much in the show. He is really light-hearted and is not grief-ridden throughout the whole series. He is sad when he comes across the ruins of each air temple, but more focused on the present. He has a year to master the elements at the age of twelve – the avatars before him did not start training until they were sixteen and had a lifetime to master the elements.

    He is devastated but he is a monk after all.

    You find out what happens in the beginning of the series, but you do not find out what happens (in detail) until later. He was frozen for 100 years – he does not know what happens, and the viewer does not either.
    You find out as the story progresses.

    I started off organized, then I got lazy.

    Too many distractions.

    Basically; keep in mind, that this is (Most likely) a trilogy. Makes no sense that they would only cover a single season of the story.

    Some movies are meant to make way for the later ones of a trilogy.

    • Jay June 27, 2010 at 5:24 pm #

      As a fan of the show and as someone who has not seen the movie (since its not out yet) BUT as an aspiring filmmaker and screenwritter, all I have to say is that regardless of whether its part of a trilogy or not, a movie should be able to stand on its own. Whether you’ve seen the whole series already or are completely new. No one should need to do mandatory research to watch a movie for entertainment. Much like I have never been a fan or watched the Star Trek series when it was on TV but was able to enjoy the newest movie, an adaptation of Airbender should just be fun to watch. Period.

      If a viewer doesn’t have these questions after watching the first season, they shouldn’t have these questions after the first movie.

      • R-Girl June 27, 2010 at 7:51 pm #

        Agreed!

  30. Don't lie June 27, 2010 at 4:51 am #

    Nice stunt man. But couple of things
    1) in you review you blatantly said you did not see any asians, then when you get caught there actually are asians in the movie, you make crap up.
    2) You claim the Asian were barely in the movie, another fat lie Suki is Asian and was in the movie for at least 10mins, the little earth bending kid and his father also Asians. The kid even moved with the group, “so dont give me no back talk” (Mr. T)
    3) the obvious fact that you knew the main actors were white.
    4) The acting may not have been oscar matterial, but it was only for a select few. (ong, and some others)
    5) You had no spoilers in your review, proove to me you saw the movie, tell me what happened after katara and sokka finds aang.
    You succeeded in making this blog that much popular, but after people see the movie, your lies would be the down fall of your own blog. lol.

    • nemogbr June 28, 2010 at 1:40 pm #

      @Don’t Lie:

      Been wondering about the kid and father. They’re so important…have you found out the names of those two asians? Or are they going to be Asian father 1 and Number one son?

  31. DZ June 27, 2010 at 10:33 am #

    Well speaking my opinion of how u present ur review it does seem that u cud have possibly made up information of the movie. Simply ur description of a particular scene in The Golden Child seem to be much more descriptive on tha premiss of that part than that of ur review of this whole movie. Tho im nt bashing u on wat u puttin it jus gives ppl more reason to b able to doubt u. All sed im a huge fan of tha series nd is really hoping 4 a gud movie 2 go with it.

    • R-Girl June 27, 2010 at 7:55 pm #

      That’s what everyone here seems to not understand, I could care less if you believe that I have or have not seen the film. I don’t really understand what you all think I get out of spending time to write a review on a movie I haven’t seen. But if you imagining that my review is some kind of malicious fake piece of literature makes you feel better about the film, feel free to believe that. I have nothing to gain from it either way it goes.

  32. wtf? June 27, 2010 at 12:03 pm #

    Dud after reading your review i can say two things 1. i really dont like you 2. your review sounds like a hunk of shit. wtf are u trying to imply? that asains are only Associated in martial art movies. thats sterotyping u shit! also ive read alot of reviews for this movies each review has what they liked about it and what they didnt like.but overal the reviews where positive. am gonna take a wild guess and say that your not even legit and ur a very biased reviewer,

  33. NAT June 27, 2010 at 2:50 pm #

    OKAY. first of all u can not critique a movie, when u hvnt even seen the cartoon it was based off. my advise to you is that you shldve WATCHED the cartoon b4 writing the review bc then u seem arrogant. Another thing is that im glad they mixed races in the movie, bc then it looks more appealing to viewers. n FYI there are quite a few asians in the movie. ALSO of course there werent that many eart bender, thats the next chapter. the first chapter is called WATERRRRRRRRRRR for a reason. DUH. ur review i cant even believe, simply bc you hvnt watched the series. WATCH THE SERIES AND THENNNNNNNNNNNNNN RIGHT ANOTHER REVIEW.

    you look like a COMPLETE and utter fool criticizing a movie u know absolutely nothing bout. leave it to the people who hav actually watched the series to critique it. all the reviews i hav read are by ppl who hvnt watched the series n its starting to piss me off.

    • Insanity June 28, 2010 at 9:45 am #

      Quick somebody get a tissue for the screaming fangirl/boy!

      For someone to review a movie without watching the series, has it’s good points and bad points. It gives them a different sense of perspective, which fans/watcher of the series don’t have. I for one have watched the whole series and liked it. It’s a great mix of western and eastern cartoon styles. However to say that a review is lacking because they don’t have proper understanding of the canon, is stupid because a movie should be able to cater to those which have never had contextual information of the series as well as cater to those who do know the canon.

      This review is useful in determining a perspective, provided she’s seen it or not. In that someone who has not seen the series can have a less biased look in the sense of their attachment to the series. To say whether her review is accurate or not, is up to you when/if you go view the movie.

      So really ‘NAT’ grow up. Stop typing like a 12 year old. Get a proper, well thought opinion instead of just typing random crap to defend your series from a bit of criticism.

      Also, to anyone being stupid over the race card. Grow up. If the reviewer believes that it would have been nice to see an asian in the major cast, it’s hardly racist. In the same way you would comment on the peculiarity of an asian main in a movie of Pride and Prejudice. The reviewer simply states that perhaps in a movie so dictated and influenced by Asian Culture, perhaps more Asians could have been included in it.

      She’s not saying get rid of all the other actors and replace, and she’s not saying Asians should be stereotyped into a martial arts genre. So seriously, get over it.

      To those who believe reviews need to be objective? You’re wrong. They need to be partly objective and partly subjective. Subjectivity comes from emotion, emotion is unique and different to a variety of people and movies are driven by emotion. Therefore subjectivity is perfectly reasonable to be in a review.

      Thanks for the review, R-Girl. Good job 🙂

  34. John June 27, 2010 at 7:13 pm #

    Honestly dude, will you get a life and stop crying on someone’s blog just because they didn’t have a positive view of a movie you’re looking for too. Grow up kid. Nobody cares that you’re throwing a tantrum.

  35. Anna June 27, 2010 at 7:43 pm #

    Never actually thought that a person who haven’t watched the show and was a simple watcher would ever say “the cast is white”, “he is mixed”. And you saw the trailers beforehand, so how could you not know that the actors weren’t Asian?

    • R-Girl June 27, 2010 at 7:50 pm #

      As I replied to a previous post. I saw the trailer months ago and the only person I remembered was the kid who appeared to be Asian to me at that time (shaved head, traditional Asian clothing, martial arts, etc). So going in to see the film, I thought it was going to be a film in the same vein of Crouching Tiger, Fearless, Kung Fu Hustle, etc.. I knew nothing about the casting or the controversy or even that this film was based on a cartoon until I saw the film. I don’t have children so I don’t watch Nickelodeon. I told my friend who has a 14-year old I was going to see the movie and she told me that her son watched the cartoon.

    • R-Girl June 27, 2010 at 7:50 pm #

      As I replied to a previous post. I saw the trailer months ago and the only person I remembered was the kid who appeared to be Asian to me at that time (shaved head, traditional Asian clothing, martial arts, etc). So going in to see the film, I thought it was going to be a film in the same vein of Crouching Tiger, Fearless, Kung Fu Hustle, etc.. I knew nothing about the casting or the controversy or even that this film was based on a cartoon until I saw the film. I don’t have children so I don’t watch Nickelodeon. I told my friend who has a 14-year old I was going to see the movie and she told me that her son watched the cartoon.

      • Don't lie June 27, 2010 at 8:49 pm #

        Again, with the Asian attire bullocks. Sokka and Katara never wore Asian clothing so why did you expect them to be Asian. Aang is the only white person that put on an Asian attire. Why did you not mention the plentiful Asian earth kingdom peeps. Like I said prove to me you saw the movie by telling me what happened after Ang was found in the iceberg.
        IMO you are just one big publicity stunt. I hope potential viewers are not lost, because of your selfish actions.

      • R-Girl June 27, 2010 at 8:58 pm #

        Wow, you really have some audacity. I have nothing to prove to you…lol. Simply go see the movie on Friday if you don’t believe what I have said in my review and make up your own mind. Although I get the feeling no matter how bad the movie is you’re so wrapped up in the hype you’re going to probably think it’s great no matter what. This review is my opinion of the film and the folks who saw it with me agree. There’s nothing more for me to say.

  36. Don't lie June 28, 2010 at 1:59 am #

    Lol, maybe you and you buddies need to learn how to watch movies. (that is if you really saw it) FYI I have seen it and it was a good movie not great but good, definitely warrants more praise than your review gives. There are about 4 reviews out there about this movie from tough renown critics and TLA has scored high with them. Stop being an enemy of progress, M Night has revived himself, let him shine.

    • R-Girl June 28, 2010 at 2:32 am #

      Maybe you need to understand how to deal with some people not liking the same movies as you. If you liked it that’s your beeswax. I didn’t like and that’s mine….carry on.

      • Don't lie June 28, 2010 at 3:21 am #

        Carry on I will young R-Girl. Beeswax pretty much turned me off from you blog. Well I pity the foo who would not see the movie over your review cause they would be missing a lot and dont give me no back talk sucka.

  37. Ta-jung Liu June 28, 2010 at 3:06 am #

    I was wondering if the movie dealt with any of the major issues posed in the original cartoon series, or did the director decide to gloss over some things.

    Did the film deal with Aang’s do-not-ever-want-to-be-Avatar-got-myself-frozen-for-a-hundred-years-everybody-friends-dead problem. Did he see his old friend/mentor, Gyatso, when he returned to the air temple?

    How did they portray the citizens of the Avatar world and their contempt for his dissapearance, leaving the Fire Nation to enslave the other 3 nations?

    Did the film show Zuko and his Father’s Agni Kai, where half of his face got burnt, leaving a huge scar?

    What about Zuko’s mother’s banishment from the kingdom?

    Most importantly, did they show Avatar Roku’s life as the previous Avatar? Because that part of the series explained everything.

  38. JackalKiller June 28, 2010 at 5:02 am #

    Thank you for your review. It was very honest and I applaud that you pointed out things that are issues in any bad film. Many people are claiming you should have seen the source material, but that is a fallacy as the movie should stand on its own. Many of the potential audience won’t have seen the original cartoon, let alone heard of it, so it would be in the best interest of the movie to have its story progress in a fully understandable and enjoyable way.

    Many people are also claiming you haven’t seen the film and are a hypocrite. As I can already tell, you’ve chosen to ignore that or respond in a polite way. Please realize that the casting discrimination controversy has divided fans of the original show in an unprecedented way. Hate and ignorance pervade both sides, but please don’t let that cloud your impression of any of us. Stand your ground and we’ll stand with you, as an opinion is just that: a personal belief that no one else has to subscribe to. Looking forward to further reviews!

  39. Janna June 28, 2010 at 12:09 pm #

    Hey there R-Girl,

    Someone linked this review to me and I was curious about how well the film stood on its own to someone who hasn’t seen the original show. It’s too bad M. Night seems to have forgotten all about the golden rule of storytelling: Show. Don’t tell. There’s nothing more irritating then characters in a movie taking me out of my immersion with the film by dropping an info-dump in my face. Maybe if more reviews turn out to mirror yours, I’ll save the cash I would’ve spent on buying a ticket and just get the soundtrack instead.

    Also, I wanted to give you props for patiently dealing with all of these rabid fanboys/fangirls frothing at the mouth because you dared to write a single bad review about a movie. I’m a fan of the show too, but seriously people – cut the crap:

    1) Not every single person who hates the film is a bloody racebender. People have different tastes – she doesn’t like it, maybe you will. Besides, the film was made by M. Night, who also made “The Happening” – did you REALLY have high hopes that he wouldn’t horribly fuck this up?

    2) A movie, even if its based on something else and is part of a trilogy, should be able to stand on its own when you watch it. It should also be good enough so that folks who have never seen the original show will still enjoy it and possibly even get curious about the cartoon.

    I never have, and probably never will, read Harry Potter, but I really enjoyed the movies – even though prior to watching the first film, I didn’t know anything about Harry Potter other then that he was some boy-wizard with a lightning bolt on his head.

  40. MT June 28, 2010 at 3:35 pm #

    Well, for a first review, it wasn’t a bad one. Thank you for your opinion, it gives me something to consider when i go see the movie for myself. As this is but one opinion, i really think i need to see it for myself in order to come to a conclusion. You know what they say; don’t just take one persons word for it… I’ve read varying reviews, some say it was bad, some say it was good. From this, i gather that it depends on the person seeing it, am i right?
    I think your reviewing skills could be inproved, but i’m not flaming. It was still a pretty good review – it expressed your own opinion which is what it is meant to do. Thank you.

  41. Shane June 28, 2010 at 6:16 pm #

    I too have a thing to say about the whole Asian thing. The characters in the show and the show itself had nothing to do with Asia. This was set in a mythical world, and sure it has martial arts moves. But that in of itself doesn’t mean that they have to be Asian.

    And the whole part about the father/son thing, that’s how it was in the show, and that’s how it’s supposed to be in the film.

    • JackalKiller June 28, 2010 at 6:30 pm #

      Shane, I understand that many people feel that since the world of Avatar isn’t explicitly a real-world “Asia”, the characters and peoples therein aren’t literally Asians either.

      However, while they may not be real-world Asian, they are specifically designed to be fantasy counterparts of real-world Asians and have physical features resembling them. They may not be “Asian”, but their appearance is meant to be in every way Asian just like Superman is physically white despite being an alien.

    • nemogbr June 29, 2010 at 4:40 am #

      That’s like saying Lord of the Rings was European inspired, yet not European.
      Still became an all-white cast for the movie or the fans would have lynched Jackson.

      Anansi Boys is inspired by African legends of the Anansi, the African god. The studios wanted to change the characters from black to white. Neil Gaiman told them to take a hike.

      Why is it only European legends have to be authentic, but non-white legends need Hollywood’s version of diversity?

  42. Emyln June 28, 2010 at 11:50 am #

    Thanks for the review. I’m asian, I a huge fan of the series and I do intend to check this show out this weekend.

    @R-Girl – ignore the negative posts. The fact that you blog generates so many responses is a plus in itself. Regardless of the tone of the responses. It’s the internet after all.

    I was quite bummed when I initially heard that the cast was all white. If you watch the series, in the extras the creators specifically state the asian influence on the show and the martial arts moves. (Water = Tai Chi etc)

    But getting over that, I’ll have to reserve judgment until I see the show. Its very hard to squeeze 20 episodes into 1 movie. (I’m assuming that this ends season one of the series).

    Also, if you go back and watch the first Harry Potter movie, you’ll notice how bad the acting of the kid’s are, relying on the older cast to carry the show. But the fans of the show love it, and sadly Avatar has few adult roles to help carry the show (The uncle being the only one).

    I can only hope that its at least on par with “Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightning Thief”. Which was not great by any stretch of the imagination, but IMO at least a decent – kid focused fantasy.

    Any chance you could comment on the comparison with Percy Jackson? Would give me a better gauge on the show.

    • R-Girl June 28, 2010 at 11:58 am #

      Thanks for your response. I didn’t see Percy Jackson so I can’t really compare it. However, I did finally get a chance to check out an episode of Avatar last night and I stand by my comments that the casting was way off. But the cartoon seemed to move along a lot better than the actual film.

  43. james tran June 28, 2010 at 12:02 pm #

    Good, I’m glad this movie sucks. Next time cast it with people who have talent. Get a better director who is going to be faithful to the series.

  44. JackalKiller June 28, 2010 at 4:05 pm #

    I was curious how you perceived Katara and Sokka. In the original show Katara was brave and idealistic while Sokka was almost cowardly and very unsure about Aang. It seems from the trailers that Katara was sent to the side-lines while Sokka was “the man” from the onset. Any opinion?

    • R-Girl June 28, 2010 at 5:08 pm #

      Katara was braver than Sokka like you say. She was ready to take care of Aang from day one and felt that he was their responsibility since they found him in the ice before Zukko took him. Sokka wasn’t so much cowardly he was just skeptical about Aang. He seemed pretty protective of Katara since they seemed to be all they had but the actor who portrayed Sokka was not a good actor so he wasn’t all that convincing.

      I’m not sure what trailer you guys have seen that shows Katara and Sokka but the trailer I saw weeks ago (I think when I went to see Iron Man 2) I don’t remember seeing Katara or Sokka and the trailer I saw last night while watching television didn’t show them either. Maybe they’re showing different trailers in different areas.

      • JackalKiller June 28, 2010 at 5:23 pm #

        The film has been aggressively marketed in the last month, especially on Nickelodeon and NickToons, for obvious reasons.

        There’s only been two or three trailers, but there’s around 13 TV spots (essentially a couple-minute-long clip from the movie). You can sometimes see as many as three or four trailers and TV spots per commercial break, which has gotten really annoying.

        Well, that at least means the movie isn’t as far off in terms of gender as it is with race. There do appear to be some changes, such as the changing of several of Aang’s past lives as a woman into men, but nothing blatantly different about their characters.

  45. Enrico June 28, 2010 at 4:50 pm #

    Noooz!

    Mr M Night Shyamalan, I hope you’ll have better fortune with Unbreakable 2. I was hoping this would be your comeback.

  46. Simi June 28, 2010 at 8:27 pm #

    With the whole Zuko back story thing, they did the same thing in the show as what you are describing. It’s not until the second season where we get to see what really happened between his father and him.

    I’m still going into this movie with an open mind!!

  47. Xfonic June 28, 2010 at 11:27 pm #

    Oh look…

    Someone who has NOT seen the series and is slamming the movie… (insert fake surprise O face here)

    Look I will not sit here and type endless fan-boy explanations about why things “are” in the movie. Everyone can judge for themselves. But for those who did watch the series, (raises hand proudly), then let us take into account that maybe, JUST maybe, they made a film for once for fans and not for cigar smoking fat cats sitting around tables.

    I love the Avatar series, and am thrilled they made “Book I” into a movie. And if thousands of jaded reviewers don’t get it, a million fans will. So ya I see a series of films coming and brining the “bags O gold” sizable enough to warrant a several sequals..

    Interesting review btw, and thxs for it.

    OH and for the record, (DRUM ROLL PLUHEEZE)
    ===> I am Asian
    AND I have enough brain cells to realize that the characters in the series ARE NOT Asian..

    LoL *shakes head*.. really.. people need to un-plug more, and think for themselves..

    Ok end my /2cents

    • nemogbr June 29, 2010 at 4:36 am #

      @Xfonic:

      The film makers did not make the film for the fans.

      They made it for what they believe to be the majority of film goers who would not be amenable to the idea of having east asians or inuits as the main protagonists.

      Why else cast a vampire from the Twilight series? Or Peltz who has a very rich father? Those roles should have gone to thespians who look like the characters, not for some tween market.

      Or the main hero who doesn’t even have knowledge of chinese martial arts?

      You may be Asian, you certainly do not speak for all asians.

    • Mela June 29, 2010 at 7:26 pm #

      Someone who has NOT seen the series and is slamming the movie… (insert fake surprise O face here)
      So? Just because someone hasn’t seen the series doesn’t mean they *can’t* have an opinion about it. That’s stupid to say that only people who have seen the series are entitled to an opinion. Agree with nemogbr, movies — even those with huge fan bases — aren’t made for the fans alone. Especially for a movie marketed on this level.

      OH and for the record, (DRUM ROLL PLUHEEZE)
      ===> I am Asian
      AND I have enough brain cells to realize that the characters in the series ARE NOT Asian..

      Guess what, I’m Asian too! AND I have enough knowledge about my culture to understand that elements from The Last Airbender are HEAVILY drawn from Asian culture. Did you know that the creators explicitly state that they got inspiration from Chinese art and history, Japanese anime, Hinduism, Taoism, Buddhism, and Yoga? Did you know the show hires a cultural consultant to review scripts? That’s how steeped in Asian culture the show was. As another commenter on this blog wrote, “The reviewer simply states that perhaps in a movie so dictated and influenced by Asian Culture, perhaps more Asians could have been included in it.” Especially in lead roles!

      LoL *shakes head*.. really.. people need to un-plug more, and think for themselves..
      This part I agree with. Yes, people really do need to think for themselves!!

  48. Tienkou June 29, 2010 at 4:04 am #

    You have to see the cartoon series or it really will make no sense. I think it ran for 4 years and they are trying to condense it into 2 movies. The cartoon is everything you said about the movie. Also it’s a kid’s movie too much depth and they lose interest and I will have to take my nephew to the lobby because he will start fidgeting if he has to uncover some plot twist. He’s 10, he wants to see funny and action. I watched the whole series on Netflix because I wanted to know what to expect and what I would be taking him to see. Maybe you should check out the series and re-review this movie.

  49. Lord Panda June 29, 2010 at 4:56 am #

    Geez, some of the people gnashing their teeth ad nauseum over this review (and attacking the reviewer) really makes me cringe and lament for humanity.

    It’s a show folks, get over it. The reviewer was in no way obliged to see the series before watching the movie. Here’s an example of how absurd this notion is: so everyone has to view all prior Star Trek series and movies before being considered worthy enough to watch Star Trek 2009? Or perhaps everyone must view the entire Transformers series before sitting for Bay’s movie reboots?

    A good movie is a good movie and a bad movie is bad movie; irrespective of the series/story/whatever that gave it life.

    Get a grip you delusional dregs of humanity and stop giving us true fans of Avatar a bad name.

    B-girl, the frothing fanbots are right about one thing though: do yourself a favour and watch the series. It’s a simply sublime and superb animated series suitable for all ages.

  50. Tami June 30, 2010 at 8:13 am #

    I didn’t read all of the comments, but I am sure someone has already said what I am about to say. First of all, I thought this review was excellent – thorough and intelligent. Thank you for that. Second, I believe many of the gripes about the movie are due to Shyamalan attempting to adhere to the animated series. For instance, Princess Yue spills her guts in the animated series with much more time and story behind her need to do this, however knowing that happened to her is essential to the overall story. Hence, her background seemed rushed and unecessary in the movie. As for Zuko and Ozai – our true understanding of Zuko doesn’t come until seasons 2 and 3 of the animated series, therefore it would be a story-changer to unveil anything in the first movie. Zuko faces a very complicated and intriguing struggle. Zuko is an incredibly interesting character, and his father is terrifying yet myterious.

  51. Julie June 30, 2010 at 9:23 am #

    Insisting that the review has no merit because the reviewer is obviously not familiar with the series is fallacious logic at best. A movie should be able to stand on his own. A person should not have to watch hours upon hours of the source material in order to ‘get’ the movie. The ardent defenders of this movie – most of whom probably haven’t actually seen the film – should realize how ridiculous they sound when they insist otherwise.

    In fact, I think that reviews coming from people unfamiliar with the source material are often the best reviews. As we know, this movie has been steeped in controversy from the very beginning, with everybody in the fandom taking sides. A review coming from someone who is a total blank slate offers us as close to an ‘objective’ opinion as we’re gonna get. (I put ‘objective’ in quotes because, well, a review is subjective by nature.)

    • Julie June 30, 2010 at 9:25 am #

      “A movie should be able to stand on his own.”

      – Um, that should read, “a movie should be able to stand on ITS own”…I’m sure a movie is not a ‘he’…oops!

  52. billy June 30, 2010 at 12:46 pm #

    Thx for saving me the money to go see this movie. I seen many critics say similar things as you did so I trust your good judgment.

  53. Iain June 30, 2010 at 4:15 pm #

    that sounds to me just like how the first season of the show was. it never got really good until about half way through the second season, and since they already have a contract and budgeting for the second and third films, give the second one a chance too. it should be better. 🙂

    also, it might seem rushed because there was so much in the season that they probably couldn’t fit easily into just a couple hours, but m. night really wanted to get everything, and even the co creators were telling him to leave out certain things for they’re not as important. he worked closely with them on this film, so i expect them to not leave out much, but i’m hoping you’re exagerating on how rushed it seemed…

  54. Lucyxlu June 30, 2010 at 7:07 pm #

    First of all it really helps if you seen the show, because all the things you described are what happened in the show. There’s a lot of talking in the show to describe the setting, and you’re suggestions about “instead of doing this m. knight could have done this,” we didn’t do this because that’s not what happened in the show, when anng saw everyone dead he didn’t run away, and there wasn’t a ton of interactions between zuko and his dad because Zuko doesn’t see his father again until the end of season 2. If you saw the trailer you would have known that Sokka and Katara are white, and in the show they aren’t asian they’re Inuits. Remember this isn’t a movie made out of the blue, it’s from a show.

  55. Ciderkiss July 1, 2010 at 12:06 am #

    I already knew the movie was going to suck. Thank God I didn’t waste my $7!

  56. D July 1, 2010 at 4:47 am #

    The movie looked pretty for the cgi stuff but the martial arts looked more like I was watching a Tai chi instructional video for seniors rather than an action sequence for most of it. The story wasn’t confusing just out of place and had a horrible pace and made my head want to explode. The acting was shit as was the script, maybe the acting was bad because of the script I don’t know.

  57. Eve July 1, 2010 at 6:51 am #

    R-girl I just wanted to show you my support. While I don’t normally post in these things, you got so many negative comments I just wanted to tell you I think you did a great job! Since you’re not an avatar fan, and probably wasn’t aware of all the race drama that was fueling this movie, I am not surprised at all that your innocent review got caught up in all the negativity from people who are already probably so paranoid towards any comment of race regarding the movie since they’ve most likely been fighting little mini verbal race wars over the webs for weeks now.

    I don’t find it surprising that you were shocked at the white actors while going in expecting a marital arts film, while you never specified which trailer you saw I would like to remind the other commenters who so quickly jumped to the conclusion that you were ‘blowing your cover’ with that comment in saying, maybe she didn’t see the same trailer as you. The only trailer I ever saw was the one in theaters were Aang is in his temple, and the camera zooms in to the approaching fire tribe, none of the other characters are seen. Even if that isn’t the one she saw, do you remember ever detail of every movie trailer? People take from it what they will, I actually had to REWATCH the trailer for this comment because all I remembered from the trailer was Sokka and the Princess kissing.

    I don’t find it weird that she comments on race even though she claims she had no predisposition to the race factor before the movie. If I saw a romantic comedy chick flick with a non white (or maybe black in rare cases) couple I’d be pretty shocked too. As someone who is also not white, sadly, I notice race a lot as well. Being asian I definitely have a predisposition to this movie, and am offended (asian actors are no where to begin with! Why do they gotta keep taking them out of the only films we’ve got?) However that has nothing to do with this review 😛

    I think it’s great that she commented on dialogue, films now and days it’s so easy to say ‘wow the effects were great!’ Really in the end it all falls on storytelling no matter what shiny sparkles the film may be dressed in.

    Also, R-girl I’ve been reading some reviews, and it seems like you are not alone – fans and non fans agree that the movie wasn’t all that.

  58. Eve July 1, 2010 at 6:54 am #

    Also as someone who’s seen the show, I agree that many of the elements she disliked were parts of the show that were there, but again lets remind everyone – you shouldn’t have to see a show in order to see the movie! Thousands of people saw Harry Potter, Twilight, and Spider man without reading the books/comics, and I’m sure we can all agree all three movies were based on things with a much larger fan base than Avatar. The thing about a movie based on something is that it has to tell a story, with influences from the original, but that can stand on it’s own.

  59. K July 1, 2010 at 7:49 am #

    I’m pretty late to this since I hadn’t really looked for any information online on the film. I wanted to go into the theatre hall without any expectations or biases. I haven’t seen the cartoon at all either but I am familiar with it and its characters because of how popular it is, and I thought the movie looked fun from the trailers and was looking forward to it.

    Anyway, my only comments are that I enjoyed this review and even if I had not seen the film I don’t believe it would have been spoiled for me. You gave a fresh and unappointed statement on the subject that didn’t feel forced (much unlike the film itself.) I think any reasonable person would expect the races to be displayed as prominently in the film as they were in the cartoon (though I’m aware that it wasn’t much more than a skin tone thing from my perspective,) even if they’re not familiar with the source material because of the lore displayed in everything surrounding the story. Even assuming someone hasn’t even caught a glimpse of the “source material” and generally hasn’t heard of Avatar: The Last Airbender before being introduced to the film.

    The way some have responded to this seems blind and extremely biased. I applaud for replying fairly to positive and negative comments, even some that are frightfully painful to read.

  60. mlewis1214 September 9, 2010 at 11:26 am #

    The movie was very painful to watch compared to the TV show as well. 🙂 It’s nice to see a review through a non-fan’s eyes, tho.

    I honestly wonder if Shayamalan gave these actors anything on their characters to pull from, cuz the characters from the show are not in this film at all. It’s like they received their name and costume and were told to say their lines. And the dialogue was (supposed to be) part of that character portrayal. I laughed in the theater at the dialogue. I wanted to strangle whoever wrote it. (Wasn’t it Shayamalan?) Overall I did not get a sense of WHO these characters were.

    I thought the 3D effects were not there, much less to their potential. MAJOR disappointment in that area for me. I wanted stuff flying at my face, and their final product just floored me, but not in a good way. I was actually told that it originally wasn’t shot of 3D, but that they added it later. So I guess I have to let that argument go since I found out this tidbit of info.

    I agree that this movie seemed rushed, and that things were not developed as they should have been. For example: who Aang is and how he deals with being the Avatar and his regrets are a big part of the show that make you come back for more. You could not connect with this movie like you can the show. But some things, like Zuko and Ozai’s relationship, aren’t really developed in the show in season 1. They come about more in the 2nd and 3rd seasons (or books, as they refer to them). So I can understand them leaving that out, but still.

    If anyone is interested, I have a post on my own blog about this movie, as well as others I’ve seen. Check it out if you’d like the full break down of my review and what made it SOOOOOOO bad.
    http://ml1214movies.wordpress.com

  61. Mystery Man March 26, 2011 at 8:37 am #

    Great review! I’m finally going to watch this tofay. Not really holding my breath for it, since it doesn’t really resemble the cartoon. I could be wrong, though.

    Nice site you have here. I’ll have to come back more often!

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