Thursday, July 15, 2010

Movie Review: The Last Airbender

I like it. I want more.

There's the sum of my review for "The Last Airbender."

There's so many complaints about the movie, and most of it are the changes from the tv series. So I asked my brother, a fan of the tv series, to tell me what those changes are. The first was the pronunciation of the lead character's name, Aang. On the show, it rhymes with bang. In the movie, it rhymes with hung. My brother also said they didn't explain some things, like how all animals in their world is a mix of two different Earth animals. He said that Katara was given a necklace, which was given to her grandmother by the water bender teacher (is that Master Pakku?). Why didn't they include that, asked my brother. Also, Prince Zuko's love interest is Katara.

Other complaints say this movie has no substance, the director didn't tell a story just filled it with CGI, blah, blah, blah. Want to know what movie is filled with CGI? "Avatar." The tv series of "The Last Airbender" was called "Avatar: the Last Airbender" but "avatar" was taken away because of that widely popular James Cameron movie. I hated that James Cameron movie. It was too long, too slow, and too computerized. I was able to get up and walk away.

If I was an "Avatar: The Last Airbender" fan, I would be annoyed with the change of the pronunciation of Aang's name. But if I had started watching the tv series, I would start associating Aang with a woman from my church whose last name is Ang and pronounced the same way (rhymes with bang). So whatever. Aang like bang or Aang like hung.

I'm good with not having all the explanations and the excluded subplots. If they brought in the subplot surrounding Katara's necklace, the movie would have slowed down. Same with the explanations. This movie kept the action moving.

I disagree with the complaints aka other movie reviews. There's substance in this movie. There's meat. There's a plot. There's a story. How do I know? Because now I know about that world, the world of the airbenders, earthbenders, waterbenders, and firebenders. I was brought into their world and was captivated by the people, the places, and their stories. I watched it last week and still inspired to review it today. I find it ironic that one complaint was that the director focused too much on the details instead of making the movie good. Buddy, the details made the movie good. The details made the fictional land real. Now I have some foundation for the next movies. I don't normally like movies set up for sequels or trilogies, but I'm looking forward to this one. Too bad I'm not certain there will be follow-up movies.

Noah Ringer plays Aang. Gotta watch out for this kid. If he plays his cards right, he could be big. Aang was chosen as the Avatar, but ran away because being an Avatar means he can't have a family (although my brother told me that a previous Avatar got married). Then Aang was frozen in ice for 100 years, was unfrozen, and became alive as a kid who wants his people back. Still conflicted. Trying to be strong, not grieving, having to overcome so much...and he's still a kid. Job well done, Ringer.

Nicola Peltz played Katara and Katara's brother, Sokka, was played by Jasper Hale...er...Jackson Rathbone. Ahaha, gosh...sidebar: why is "The Last Airbender" getting so much heat and the "Twilight" series (books & movies) aren't???

Anyway. I think these two characters were overshadowed by Ringer and Dev Patel (Prince Zuko). Patel did a wonderful job playing Prince Zuko, the bad guy who...dun, dun, dun...isn't as evil as his father and sister. Prince Zuko is conflicted as well and extremely wounded by his father. He's trying to get back his honor by capturing the Avatar, but we find out that his father's not really rooting for him at all. Patel managed to be menacing and vulnerable at the same time.

I told my brother that I think Prince Zuko will turn good and side with Aang. I was right. Then I told my brother that I think Prince Zuko likes Katara. I was right too. Hahahaha. When Prince Zuko knocked Katara unconscious with his firebending skills, looks down upon her face, and explains his actions...I sensed a chemistry zing, but I'm not too sure it will be followed up on. And all throughout the movie, there were signs of Prince Zuko as having the capabilities of being good.

If I've learned anything about good literature and good movies, it's that everything is there for something, never nothing. Confused yet? Good stories (books & movies) will not present you useless things (facts, events, details). The things you're presented with will, in some way, be used in the story. Books and movies that I consider bad disobey this rule. Yes, I call it a rule. So movies that have explosions for the sake of explosions = bad. A character who hides a gun under his/her shirt for the sake of having a gun under his/her shirt = bad. Everything has a purpose.

Example, Prince Zuko's uncle, Uncle Iroh (played by Shaun Toub) is a firebender who was able to bend fire from nothing. Doing so scared the other firebenders, including Commander Zhao. Uncle Iroh used his chi, and he's told Prince Zuko (before Zuko dove into the icy waters) that his chi can warm him up. This may seem out of nowhere, but I got it. Then my brother told me that there are levels in bending. Some waterbenders can bend plants like vines because of the water running inside. Two waterbenders can bend blood...but that's another story (go watch the tv show). This is an interesting thing that sequels can take and may take since it was established with Uncle Iroh.

Many are saying that "The Last Airbender" is a movie that just exists. Like fluff...summer fluff. I disagree. It's entertaining and the effects are really good. Seemless. Makes me want to be able to bend elements too.

Fans of the tv show have had all this time to bond with the characters, receive one back story after another, and become involved in their world. I was given 1 hr 43 min. And I thought that time was worth it.

The bummer: Aang as the Avatar isn't allowed to hurt people (kill them) so he used his newly mastered waterbending skills to show the Fire Nation the power of the ocean. Boooh...just kill them already.

Oh well, onto my favorite movie still.
This shot is what made me want to watch the movie. The kid is glowing. And he's got cool tattoos that glow too. Why wouldn't you want to watch a movie like that? Hahaha.

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