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The Last Airbender Book One: Water
The Last Air Bender Movie Review
The movie is based off of the hit TV show for children but truthfully a show that just about anyone could enjoy. It was fun, exciting and sometimes even dark. It also had some really adult themes. So when I heard they were making a live action movie of this of this amazing show. Was I excited? Heck no! Well, that’s not entirely true. I was excited but I did not have high hopes. After seeing the live action version of Dragonball, I was a bit worried about how they were going to execute this movie - especially since they have to fit an entire season of the TV show into a feature length movie. And they do not do this well. And don’t even get me started on the pronunciation of the names…
The beginning is so rushed, so forced, and so unrealistic it approached spontaneous combustion. Aang, our main character, is captured by the Fire Nation and taken away in pretty much the first ten minutes of the film. Kitara and Sakka then immediately go off to save him. Why do I have a problem with this? Because they barely learn anything about the guy yet they are off to risk their lives for him Kitara and Aang have a conversation that lasts perhaps 30 seconds for most of which Kitara doesn’t even seem interested by Aang… but more… weirded out. Sakka I don’t think ever talks to the guy.
The dialogue is extremely simplistic and doesn’t have the exciting feel of the show. As I’ve said, most of the scenes in the movie are just skipped through and the two that aren’t skipped through and really do seem a lot like what happened in the show are in fact really good. But I’ll get to the positives later. Right now I feel like destroying this thing.
I just want to start off by saying that none of the men’s names are pronounced correctly. They all sound like they are being said with a French accent. Nothing against the French, I love your baguettes, and other grain products. But what really got me about the movie wasn’t the names, but the casting. Why is the Fire Nation Indian? Seriously, what is up with that, everyone in the Fire Nation looks like they are related to Russell Peters - - in fact, I thought at first that the Fire Lord was Russell Peters. My theory is that somebody walked up to M Night Shyamalan and told him that the Fire Nation was supposed to be Asian. But instead, of giving them the more Japanese look they are supposed to have, he must have thought they meant South Asians.
He even messes up in his own realm of incorrectness. The man who plays General Iro, and the man who plays the Fire Lord look nothing alike – especially since they are supposed to be blood brothers. And of course the one White guy in the Fire Nation is the only one who is a decent guy. Stereotype much? Even the buildings in the Fire Nation look like Indian Temples.
While I’m on the subject of one White out there - Kitara, Sauka and their grandmother are the only White people in a village of what appear to be all Inuit. But not to worry once they get to the North Pole they get to see that everyone there is white. That’s accurate, don’t you think?
We also get to see a few familiar faces or at least people who look like familiar faces. While we were looking around in the North Pole I swear I saw King Theoden from Lord of the Rings, not to mention almost the entire cast of lost and a few people I remember seeing on Canadian Idol. Speaking of Lord of the Rings, the battle at the end of the movie was very reminiscent of the Battle of Minis Tirith- - maybe to get back as James Cameron for stealing the name to his movie - - only to find out that it was Peter Jackson who made those movies! Don’t worry, M Night, I get those too mixed up as well.
The actual characters were kind of mixed for me. I thought Aang and Kitara were pretty good and Sakka was admittedly kind of funny though a lot of his serious dialogue wasn’t that good. Nothing against him, it just wasn’t that well-written – he seems to suffer from that in a lot of movies he’s been in recently (cough…Twilight).
Zuko was OK, but at times he was really chewing the scenery…and the props, and the background and some of the other actors. This role ain’t exactly Slumdog, is it? Still I think a dance routine between him and his love interest in the next film would really jive it up.
Iro was really good, while the guy who played Xiao was really bad. And again, why is the Fire Nation Indian? I ask this again because I can think of a lot of really good Japanese actors who would fill these positions perfectly. But that’s water under the bridge.
As for positives for this movie, the scenery is beautiful and so are the effects. The fight scenes are pretty well choreographed although unlike the TV show the characters have to perform an entire ballet routine before they can finally use their powers. My favourite example of this is when 5 Earth Benders do this intricate series of stomping movements only to throw one slow motion rock at the enemy. Well done boy’s. One the subject of throwing rocks…in the movie(or at), a boy was charged with being an Earth Bender for throwing rocks at soldiers. Well if throwing rocks at people is all you have to do to be an Earth Bender, well… get me a super soaker and I’ll be a Water Bender.
But anyway, back to the positives. The fight scenes themselves are pretty well done - the best of which being at the Northern Air Temple and the Northern Water Tribe city. The bending itself was pretty cool, even if they had to breakdance for a few minutes before using it. The reason I have a problem with this is because in the show all they had to do was move and the elements would move with them. Here it’s like they have to charge up chi energy before they can throw slow motion rocks at people.
One time, their little dance routing before bending took 30 seconds, I could have walked over and decked the guy in that time, but I guess people were too busy being transfixed by the dance..
The last thing I have to say is that the city of the Northern Water Tribe is stunning. I couldn’t have made it better myself – it really was beautiful and right up there with the city of Gondor in my opinion.
This is Dr Nova, saying there’s a fine line between insanity and a stable mind but in order to appreciate life you have to spend it right in the middle.