Saturday, July 03, 2010

Bending of the Air

The Last Airbender Review!


Hopped out to see this last night, even though everyone has been berating me with bad reviews. The most humorous so far is on i09 by Charlie Anders. I don't feel that it accurately paints the movie, but man, it's a funny read.

Positives:

It's like the book. For anyone who has actually paid attention to the series, it started out as a book before it was transformed into the television show. The book is pretty good and Shamalama pulls out most of the plot points quite accurately. Granted the book wasn't as popular as the tv show, but realistically, this was probably a better move to go with the book then the show. The book offers a more mature setting (PG13 land) that Shamalama could better adapt to then attempt to make a live action version of the animated show. It wouldn't have the same pizazz and Nickelodeon would have been better off making an animated movie if they wanted to go that route.

Zhao and Prince Zuko. Good acting on both parts. Zuko is acted by Dev Patel (the main character in Slum Dog Millionaire...does anyone remember that?), who brings a lot of life and torment into this character that best symbolizes the persona in the book. Commander Zhao is played by Aasif Mandvi. I say play because I think that best suits Mandvi, of The Daily Show fame. He puts his own twist on the character, that I felt made him more...human. Zhao has more of a personality and provides some light humor when its least expected. Intentional by Shamalama? Probably not, but more power to Mandvi for breathing some life into an otherwise dull character.

Pretty visuals. And I mean that in a good sense because so much of the Avatar television series had a great sense of color and movement and the movie captures this quite well. The blue of the water is more vibrant. The red and oranges in the fires are more red and orange. Ok, bad example. Just take a screencapture of the television show and the movie and compare the two and it'll make more sense.


Negatives:

It's really nothing like the television show, as pointed out earlier, which will make it a downfall for this movie. With Airbender, the popularity is in the tv show, not the book. By going the book route, it's doomed to fall down into the pit of failed book movies.

The kids can't act. If you were hoping for another Sixth Sense Haley Joel Shamalama magic, you won't see it here. It is blatantly obvious that a lot of the child actors have never been in a movie before, and it throws off the story. Just when you think you're getting into it, one of the kids speaks up and you're back to reality. Aang is pretty bad. I think he was chosen because he has a martial arts background and wasn't afraid to shave his head. Acting is not his strong point.

It's an adult movie for children. Much like Star Wars, in that the plot is more elevated to that of a normal PG, made for kids, movie. And just like Star Wars, there are a lot of bad puns and campy dialogue that will make you groan. And not C3PO in Attack of the Clones bad ("I'm falling to pieces!" as he's being dragged around by R2-D2. Lame). Those are tolerable in comparison. This script is like watching an Ed Wood D Movie bad. The best example of this in the film is when Aang and his crew are taken captive by the fire nation and thrown into a prison cell with a few Earth benders. I want to point out that this "cell" is really a giant dirt enclosure. Its dirt and water making a mud hut. Logic would dictate as an Earth bender, you could manipulate the dirt, aka EARTH, around you and get the hell out. But apparently, the Earth benders lack brain cells. They're content in sitting in their mud hut cell and ignoring that they are surrounded by EARTH. Until Aang comes along and says "Hey look! This is dirt! We can escape!" And all of the Earth benders are shocked at his superior knowledge and decide to break out. How is that realistic? Even a 3 year old could have figured it out. On that note, I'm taking back what I said. This isn't an adult movie for children. It's really an insult to children with how bad the dialogue is.


Because this is a geek event, here is my advice if you want to see this movie. Do your best to push out the book and the tv show. Look at this movie as a unique stand alone project. It'll make it a little more enjoyable/tolerable. I'm not saying that this a good movie, but it's not as bad as people are making it out to be if you go into it without pre-conceived notions. Oh, and apologies for the use of Shamalama. I’ve always had a difficult time spelling out his name correctly, so it’s become a habit to call him the Shamalama.

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