I'm a big fan of "Avatar: The Last Airbender". It's a show that, not only lived up to the hype, but surpassed it as well. I had heard that the cinematic adaptation was rather terrible, but didn't get a chance to sit down and watch it until recently.
It really is quite bad. I know, this list is a bit late and I'm probably beating a dead horse, but I wanted to comment on it regardless and give some reasons why I think that the movie failed the way it did when it had such strong source material to work from.
This movie attempted to take about a half dozen episodes from the first season and string them together to make a movie. It didn't really work out.
Because the script is trying to cram so much material into the 1 hour and 40 minute runtime, everything feels rushed. Stuff happens and then its forgotten.
The show gave all of these ideas time to develop and resonate, but the movie doesn't have that kind of time so it just jumps ahead. This makes the film very choppy as a result.
The show is bright and fun. There's a healthy dose of humor and all of the characters have distinct personalities. The movie is dire and serious. There's no life or charm to it. It's just there.
The show was a delight to watch, this had the opposite effect.
The clunkiness of this dialogue needs to be heard to be believed. Honestly, you have to make a sincere effort to write a script like this. It's mind boggling. I have no idea how Shyamalan looked at this script and said "yep, this is good stuff". Same goes for the studio executives who backed this.
It's almost like they greenlit a first draft. That's the only thing that makes sense to me. They didn't want to revise it, so they just went ahead with what they had, and this is what we got as a result.
I mentioned before how all of the characters are serious and brooding, but more than that, they have no personality. You learn next to nothing about Sokka and Katara over the course of the film and you get no sense for their characters.
I thought that the character who played Aang was close. In his early scenes, he does smile and, while not as upbeat as his animated counterpart, it seemed like he was close enough that I was going to give him some credit. Sadly, he loses that and becomes dour and serious just like the rest of them.
It's made worse by the fact that the movie is pretty much entirely exposition. All of the characters are just mouth pieces used to get plot points and ideas across and they never really have a chance to become real people.
"Siege of the North" stands as one of the major highlights of the entire show. It's epic, it's gripping, and it really was one of the pinnacle episodes.
The movie takes all of that and mangles it. The death of the moon spirit has absolutely no tension behind it as Yue sacrifices herself all of 30 seconds later to bring it back to life and we don't get the cool giant fish water god monster thing that Aang turned into in the show.
I'll admit that last point is a nitpick, and I'll totally cop to the hypocrisy since I always rolled my eyes when "Watchmen" fans complained about the lack of giant squid in the film version of the comic, but it still bugged me.
Shyamalan had such strong material to work with, but he couldn't make it gel. It wasn't lack of dedication. He stuck to the narrative of the show and even took sequences directly from it. He was faithful to the source material in that respect; I will give him that much, but man, this movie...not good.
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