The Last Airbender
As I am writing this, rottentomatoes.com has The Last Airbender rated at a shocking 7%. However, if you look a little closer, you will notice that while the “critics” have it at 6% – the “community” has it rated at 61%. That’s a pretty huge gap.
So while it seems like the cool and trendy thing to do right now is hate on M. Night Shyamalan, I must say: I really enjoyed The Last Airbender.
Granted, I am a rabid fan of the original animated series. So let me break it down for you:
If you have never seen the original series on Nickelodeon, or have any idea what the show is about, there is a good chance you will not enjoy this movie. While there are a few moments where Shyamalan seems to have at least tried – the majority of the movie does not seem to be written with the general public in mind. This movie is for the fans.
Within the first ten seconds, I was squealing like a little girl. The original opening sequence from the series was paid tribute to perfectly. And it just continues from there: Sokka and Katara discovering Aang and Appa in the ice, the Southern Water tribe village, the Fire nation ships… all perfect.
But once Aang escaped from Zuko’s ship and flew away with Sokka and Katara, things started to feel a little rushed. Conversations became awkward and hurried. Large chunks of information were being spilled out, and I began to feel as if I was no longer being shown the story – I was being told.
This seems to be where M. Night Shyamalan remembered that he might actually have a few people go see this movie who hadn’t seen the original series, and “oh yeah, I’d better try and have the characters explain stuff”. This continues on and off for the better part of thirty minutes, but in the meantime we still get to see some of our beloved characters just as they were in the series. And despite my intital concerns about the casting of Iroh and Zuko – the actors did a great job with the characters.
Eventually, the gang manages to stumble their way through the awkward info-spill conversations, and makes it to the Northern Water Tribe (and the movie is saved!). Now I saw the movie in 3D, so I don’t know if it was as impressive in 2D, but seeing all that fire and water bending in action was awesome! The scene with Yue and the Water and Moon Spirits was beautiful. And even though they didn’t have Aang go all crazy Spirit monster on the Fire nation fleet – his wall of ocean was pretty intense.
So, despite the moments in the middle where things got a little weird and rushed-feeling, overall I thought the movie rocked. And I can’t wait for the next movie! (where Aang learns Earth bending, and we get to meet Toph). And I am thinking it will be even better than this one – now that we have some of the awkward explaining out of the way.