Hello, Spongey here. Welcome to the finale of Toon’d out Month 2!
…Well, this is it. The big one. The most hated live action adaptation of all time. Fans hated it. Critics hated it. It won razzies, it got scorn, and it is now a famous bad movie punchline. It’s been reviewed to death…so why am I doing it?
Hell, I did a general review of it way back on Blogger.
“This is the worst movie ever made. And I will never change my mind “
- had a lot to learn. Why am I doing it again? Closure. I need to give this the full review it deserves. I need to further explain how bad this movie is. I can’t tallk about really bad movies unless I give a proper review to one of the worst.
But before we do, i’ll introduce you to Avatar The Last Airbender. I’m sure you all know the backstory, but i’ll explain it anyway. Avatar is a Nicktoon that everyone loves, including me. It was created by Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko and it was nick’s first real action cartoon.
I won’t get too deep into the premise, as the review-y part will explain more, but in short, it takes place in a world where people can use “bending” the control the four elements: Earth, air, fire, and water. The world is made up 4 nations, each following one elements with people that bend that elements. There are also non-benders, which I still don’t fully get. Is it a genetic thing or what?
There’s a guy who can control all of the elements, called the “Avatar” but the current one vanishes-
actually, never-mind. I’ll explain later. Bottom line, it’s a great show. Complex characters, great plot lines, amazing animation, and some outstanding martial arts. While i’m not as crazy for it as other people, I still like it.
And of course, they had to make a live action move out of it…directed by M Night Shamalan/ Yeah, I actually haven’t seen any of his other movies, but even before this, he was mocked for his uses of twist endings (even though he’s only done 3 films with a twist…and one wasn’t even at the end) and while I don’t hate the person,. His movies sure don’t look that amazing. Poor guy..
So why was a horror/thriller director chosen for a fantasy/action movie? NO IDEA. It seems so out of place! M night claims he was a fan of the series, to the point where Nick gave him full creative control….and the original creators did jack shit. That turned out well, didn’t it?
But yeah, you get it. You know the full story of M Night’s failure. Want to just jump into the movie, and get it over with? …too bad.
This, is The Last Airbender
First, there’s the parmount logo, where the stars are made of water, and turn into ice before resounding the mountain. Then comes the nick logo, which is on fire, but air cools it down.
This is the best part of the movie.
The movie starts with a look at the main benders, obviously taken from the show’s actual opening. The show’s then goes to a quick summary of the plot, in a non-boring and okay manner, with music and such.
The movie…goes to a text crawl with dull naration. What was the point of doing the first of the intro?! Well, anyway, the text informs us that the nations lived in harmony and that a dude called the Avatar-
oh ,i’m sorry. OVATAR, could bend all four elements and can talk with the spirit world. 100 years ago, he vanished. Does the movie explain exactly how the avatar concepts works, why him vanishing is so awful and what everything is?
Much like our last movie, if you haven’t’ seen the show, you will be lost. Nothing is ever explained in detail, and it opens so many plotholes, and it just sucks you out of the movie. Here’s what they left out.
“but everything changed when the fire nation attacked. Only the Avatar…could stop them. But when the world needed him most, he vanished”
was that so hard? You can fill in that yourself from what of the fire nation you see, but i’d be nice to know why you need him so badly.
So the story really starts at the south pole, where we see one of our main characters, Katara. She is bending the CG water, but pisses off her brother Sokka.
“I thought about mom”
They can’t. Show!Sokka-
sorry, I mean SOAKKA-
was the comedy relief, but he was also a warrior and could buckle down sometimes. Here, he’s dead serious and never cracks a joke, and always looks intense. He is drop dead dull, and he so little screen time, I wonder why he’s even here. Same goes for Katara, as well.
I don’t feel like explaining Katara, but she wasn’t a dull blank slate like the movie version is. Their mom is dead, and Dad left to fight in the war against the fire nation. Do they fully dive into this here? Nope! Sure, they didn’t really get into til season 2, but in season one, they do dive into it a little bit!
Anyway, The two are hanging out and Katara narrates to us what I said, only with very little passion. Like I said, they don’t really dive into how the characters, but it just tells us what is wrong.
And yes, every other line is dull exposition, and there is very little development in the story and characters. You’ll see more of that later.
Oh,. And from now, i’ll try to stop bringing up the show. The movie is bad enough without comparing it to the show.
Anyway, instead of showing more of the siblings talking to establish character/chemistry, they quickly move on to start the plot.
Eventually they come across some easily breakable ice below them. Of course, Sokka starts hitting at it, like an idiot.
From the ice comes an Iceberg pinata, which Katara stupidly hits at. From the ice comes a 12 year old boy.
“what is your name?”
Hey, wait for him to wake up BEFORE you bug him with questions!
He’s alive, but not fully awake. Oh, and he has a flying bison with him named appa. Yeah, he literally is only in the movie for transportation and does nothing else.
So they take the kid they don’t know back home, where Katara meets him. He doesn’t freak out or ask where is,, but whatever.
He quickly explains that he ran away from home and got frozen in ice.
“oh . I see”
yeah, don’t ask him WHY he ran away or anything. Hell, the movie barley explains it.. so anyway, this is oong. Yes, not Aang. What’s with all the name changes?
Cuz the movie still doesn’t want character stuff, our villains show up at their doorstep. The light set off by the iceberg attracted a ship to come here.
The captain of that ship who shows up is our Villain, Zuko, played by Dev patel. Yes, the non-white heroes are now white, and the white villain is no longer white. No comment.
“I am prince zuko”
He’s acting isn’t any better…but his character is better handled. But not by much. His daddy is the fire lord, but more on that later.
“bring me all your elderly!”
They quickly find Aang and bring him to Zuko.
“you are going to my ship”
…why? I know from his tattoo you can guess he’s the Avatar, but since he’s…well, 12, you should be in disbelief, and confirming his status as the Avatar. And aanfg should be in be shock and find out but the war and what he-
okay. Enough fan bitching. It’s just…wow, they skipped over SO MUCH. It’s 10 minutes in, and we’re on episode 2 with all the good parts cut out. Aang agrees to go, since hey, he hasn’t established a life in the south pole yet. But in the show he had and when he did this, it was with a heavy hear-
okay, stop. So aang is taken, and Katara is not happy,.
“He’s our responsibility’
….you talked to him all of ONCE and knowing NOTHING about him, and you don’t even know why he is taken and how he’s the Avatar and-
OKAY I MUST STOP BUT THIS MOVIEV SDFGRRGE
“This bison creature thing floats”
TIM CURRY: oh they float!
He’s one of the “better” actors in the film, and he could pass off as Iroh if you quint really hard. He seems to take the bad film seriously…BUT HE’S NO MAKO.
“My name is eroh!”
OKAY FUCK YOU, STOP GETTING THE NAMES WRONG.
Meanwhile, Katara’s Grandma talks about her destiny and whatever,
“that boy might be the Avatar”
oh,. NOW you say it right!
After giving them the exposition. Aang must take a test. No, it doesn’t turn out to be in his underwear, cuz that would make more sense than what’s about to happen.
They put a rock, a candle, and water in front of him. They react to his presence, confirming his is the avatar. ….Uh, this wasn’t in the show. Cuz it makes no sense. If the elements react to him, shouldn’t shit be going crazy for him ALL THE TIME?!
Whatever. Aang is Zuko’s prisoner now. Aang tries to escape with his funky hand momvents- I mean bending, and….he does. He gets out his glider, which he now has, and flies off. Wow, the fire nation has really shitty security.
Sokka and Kattara show up on Appa, and Aang hitches a ride. So that last scene was, you guessed it, entirely pointless!
On to the next episode, I mean scene, where they reach the southern air temple, where Aang grew up. Aang has been gone for 1000 years, so this is supposed to the point where that hits him, and it’s very tragic.
But he knew the 100 years thing BEFORE they reached the temple, in the show, and it was there when he realized that the air nomads didn’t last long. But here, he didn’t know, so he has too much to realize in one scene. Again, they cram way too much into this movie
They find a flying lemur, which Aang keeps as a pet. He’s nothing more than a CG effect, and he’s only here cuz he was in the show.
And of course, he finds out the truth:The fire nation killed the air nomads, and all over the place, he sees the remains. In the show, this was a shockingly, dark, and moving reveal for Aang.
Here, it’s…kind of there. It’s overblown thanks to bad, over dramatic acting, and the character is written so poorly in this movie, that I didn’t have the same feeling I did when this happened in the show. It’s the not the worst attempt at sad ever, but it falls flat.
“YOU ARE LYING”
MR FREEZE: YOU LIE!
That’s what he sounds like!
Anyway, they killed the air guys cuz they knew the next Avatar would be born under Air. Yeah, it’s a reincarnation cycle, which they barley go into in this.
Geez, Luke didn’t overreact this much. So this makes him go into the Avatar State, which happens when Aang is very angry or just plain un-happy. In this state, he can be very dangerous. In the movie, they sorta…go into his mind.
Yeah, he sort of spaces out and we see him in some weird place. This was not in the show, at least not like this. Some weird…dragon thing talks to him. This was SORT of in the show, as the dragon guy was Roku, the avatar before Aang.
But here, it’s just a weird spirit dragon thing. Then Aang, just…goes back out. Katara’s pleas got him out, but here it just makes the whole bit feel…pointless!
Next we move onto another fire nation ship, with Commander Zhao, played by Asif Mandiv. Zuko and Iroh are here with him and his cronies, as Zhao speaks about zuko, and we find out he was banished. See, Daddy the fire lord chucked him out off the throne.
Zuko is the only character in the show that is given his proper backstory and motivation…it’s still badly handled, but at least it’s something. See, Zuko must find the Avatar to restore his honor, which leads to complex stuff and yada yada. ..In the show, anyway.
Why is Zhao telling his goons this when this obviously know? Exposition, of course! Oh, and here comes another problem i’ve failed to bring up.
In the show, fire benders could summon fire all they want, unlike the other element benders. This is why the fire nation was such a big threat. ….In the movie though, they all must get fire from a source, like a torch,. Only zuko can summon fire.
This is incredibly stupid. For one, that means Zuko can easily reject Zhao’s shit and kick his ass. And of course, it makes the fire nation less of a threat. You can easily get them in a fire-less room and kick their ass. You mean to tell me that in 100 years, nobody could figure that out?!
Ugh. Well anyway, later the Gaang takes a rest in the earth kingdom. Yeah, see they are going to the northern water tribe so Aang can learn waterbending, cuz he needs to learn the other elements. …But, they say this LATER, after they find out why they need to do so. Thus, this is a pointless detour.
They see a little Earth boy…girl…whatever, run past them, and they see he was running from some fire benders.
“He was bending tiny stones at us from behind a church…it really hurt!”
oh hey, humor…and it still sucks.
See, Earthbending is banned in the nearby village, as the fire nation has taken it over. Katara’s tries waterbending on them,…but fails. Haw, women can’t bend how hilarious!
Yes, she was much more competent in the show, even at this point. So they are taken to the fire nation controlled Earth village, where Earthbenders are slaves and such. Hey, wait, they are on the ground. That means earth.
So uh, can’t they just…use that to kick the fire nation’s ass? Since they can’t make their own fire, it’d be easy to kick their asses. This…whole thing makes no sense. Did this happen in the cartoon? NO. they were trapped on an oil rig, thus it made sense.
This entire scene coming up is one of the worst in the movie. Not only is it pointless, but thanks to what I said, it’s very stupid.
“There’s earth right underneath your feet!”
EXACTLY! Even Aang knows this is stupid! Oh, and by the way, in the show, it was Katara who saw how bad this is and got the earthbenders to revolt. Thus, this helped her grew a bit. Here? It’s given to Aang, and Katara is useless. YAY.
He reveals himself to everyone, and while a solider denies he is the Avatar…Katara pushes him a bit and shouts. That’s the biggest thing she has done so far…and Aang has to save her when the solider tries to fight back.
Ugh. So anyway,…
“everybody can help us now!”
Well, they were going to, but after that line read, you can forget it. (JOKE COPYRIGHT RIFFTRAX)
Then comes a big fight scene with the EarthBenders fighting back. Everyone has bitched about this fight. About how it’s all in one long shot, revealing how in-competent the choreography. About how it looks lazy and amateurish. About how you have to do a whole dance before you can bend anything.
But most of all…they’ve bitched about the pebble dance.
Yes, the legends were true. A team of Earth benders do a dance to move a pebble. And….it’s by far the best part of the actual movie. Why? IT’S HILARIOUS.
The rest of the movie is not funny thanks to boredom, but this bit is amazingly bad. I love it. But sadly, them movie moves on, as they kick the fire nation solders out.
Out of gratitude, they give Katara a Waterbending Scroll that the fire nation had taken. This only happens so this scene can be relevant, as otherwise, it is pointless. The only thing we learned was that the fire nation is bad…which we already know. No character stuff happens, unlike the show, and it only gave us plotholes. SO WHY IS IT EVEN HERE?!
They could have had them find the scroll somewhere else, (in the show they got it from pirates, but I see why cut that out). Thus, there was no reason for this scene. Well, okay, there’s a statue of Avatar Koshi, the Avatar 2 cycles before Aang. The only time we see another Avatar in the movie.
After abusing the wide angle lense, we cut to the fire nation, as Zhao speaks to fire lord ozai. Wait, what? Ozai didn’t show his actual face until season 2! He shouldn’t even be important as a character yet!
Whatever, it’s Cliff curtis. A thousand words was an upgrade compared to this. Zhao says they found a lost library with old scrolls in it. They have info on where the moon and ocean spirits are. I only mention this scene cuz of Ozai, otherwise, it’s just more exposition.
We cut to Zuko and Iroh hanging out. For whatever reason, Zuko calls a boy other there to talk to him about the prince and stuff.
“He spoke out of turn, in defense of his friends who were going to be sacrifice in a battle.”
“Yeah, he was challenged to an duel, but when he showed up, it was his father he was supposed to fight”
Zuzu, why are having a kid explain this to you? You already know this! There’s no reasons, thematic or otherwise for this to be going on. It’s just here to explain to the auidence what happened, but you could have done it any other way.
Let me sum that up: Zuko spoke out during a war meeting, so they made him do a duel, only he found it was his dad he was fighting. Dad then burned zuko, giving him his scar.
This is only time in the movie where a character gets motivation, backstory, and depth. …Except, it’s not handled all that well since it’s still not much and little attention is given to how tragic this backstory is.
So Aang and Katara practice their dancing, I mean bending, when Aang says he wants to visit the Northern air temple. So he heads there by himself. He bumps into a old man there…who is played by the guy who was Gohan in Dragonball Evolution.
Dammit, already I bump into this guy again?! You just attract shitty adaptations!
Anyway, he’s just some old guy visits the temple remains. This whole bit isn’t in the show, but at this point, I don’t care. He takes Aang to a room of hidden Avatar statues.
“you seem like nice young man…you will forgive me”
Yep, it was actually a fire nation trap. The fire guys sort of forced the old man to help them like this. So Aang is captured…again.
If this is starting to feel like many episodes stitched that…well that’s cuz it is. The first half doesn’t’ feel like a coherent story, but rather isolated episodes of a show put together. I know it IS but it should NOT feel like that!
Zhao did all this and he gives a speech to his people elsewhere, but a dude in a blue mask drops by and sneaks around. He beats up some guards and lets Aang free. After more shitty fighting, The blue spirit here just a threatens to kill Aang if they don’t let them go.
So they let them go and the two take rest in a nearby Forrest. You think the masked vilgalante would have just left instead of leaving himself open for Aang to take off his mask. Thanks to his idioicy, we find out the blue spirit is..
ZUKO! WHAT A TWEEST!
Heh, I did the M night twist joke…in a m night movie. I…just got that.
So yeah, you may think it’s sudden for Zuko to do this. Well, that’s cuz it is. In the show, this did have some lead in, and this was actually a pretty deep moment for Zuko’s character. But, say it with me kids THE MOVIE DOESN’T HAVE THAT. Instead, it’s kind of weird, and Aang doesn’t say anything about it and just leaves.
The Fire lord talks to Zhao about failure. Zhao says that Zuko freed Aang and- wait, how did he know this? He…didn’t see anything. I don’t think he even found out in the show.
“I have no proof of this-”
So zhao takes matters in his hands and tries to get his men to kill Zuko back on his ship. But Zuko survives, and we join the Gaang as they make it to the northern water tribe. That was fast.
So they head in and they see. The most epic thing in this movie. The myth that no one belibved. But it’s true. The Legend of this mafeince is true. Here it is, folks. It’s..
THE PENIS HAIR!
CINEMA SNOB: That’s a dick!
DON’T LOOK DIRECTLY AT IT!
Yes, you are seeing hair, in the shape of a penis. It, is amazing. I mean…how do you do something like that on accident?! It’s…wow! Forget the pebble dance, this is the best part! ..should I censor that?!
So uh…the movie tries to recover from that, as Katarra narrates to us.
“My brother and the princess became friends right away”
…They kid? He’s just kind of …looking at her. Can you …SHOW us the romance that is about to happen? No? Okay.
This is Yue, the one with the penis hair. She’s the water tribe princess. Her actress would later be in the sequel series, Legend of Korra. Guess she made up for her sins.
So the water guys know the fire nation is coming for them…somehow, and Yue needs a bodyguard to make sure she doesn’t get hurt. Sokka signs up, cuz that isn’t stalker-ish at all.
Anyway, Aang and Katara are taught waterbending by Master Pakku. It’s boring, so i’ll skip it. Iroh is with Zhao on his ship on their way to the Northern Water Tribe.
“Your failure in the siege of Ba Sing Say, won’t be held against you. Your son died in the seige, didn’t he?”
CINEMA SNOB: …THAT’S a dick.
Zhao thinks Zuko died earlier. But who cares about that? It’s time for FORCED ROMANCE! Yep, Sokka and yue (who has sadly un-penis’d her hair) hang out and have really bad banter. They talk about what would happen if Yue dropped by the south pole.
“My grandmother would ask you a lot of questions. Like why is your hair white, young lady?”
and why does it look like a penis?
She randomly exposits that when she was born, she shouldn’t wake up. Her parents prayed to the moon spirits to give her penis hai- I mean life. Remember that, it’s important later.
Zuko, of course, is hiding on the ship, and Iroh talks to him. He tells him Aang is here, and Zuko should get him while he has the chance. Skipping a bit, The fire nation attacks, and the Gaang retreats to a hidden spirtiual room.
Aang will use it to enter the spirit world. He has to mediate to do so, and Katara sticks around to make sure no one interrupts him. I’m not saying a lot, as the movie is finally getting story parts right…but it still sucks.
Aang goes into the spirit world, but zuko shows up. Another battle ensues, where Katara is finally competent. Yes, she finally gets to kick-
and Zuko kicks her ass. Great, in the show this happened after Katara tried really hard, and cuz the sun came up to power Zuko but…here it’s cuz she sucks. Fucking great.
Zuko takes aang to a hiding spot, while everyone else fights. Aang is still in the spirit world, talking to the dragon guy again. He says Aaang is pissed over how he let the fire nation kill people in his absence.
“You are grieving’
I couldn’t tell. We haven’t SEEN him sad or angry other this. Don’t just SAY he’s going through stuff. Show, don’t tell! He says Aang hasn’t really gotten all angry over this, and says he should let his emotions flow like water.
So aang is gonna cry like a pussy? Now is not the time! Thankfully, he just leaves the spirit world and tries to escape Zuko. After getting his ass kicked by a 12 year old boy, Zuko is frozen (TODAY) by Katara, in her first act of awesome.
Aang sees this big, boring battle, in all it’s glory. Zhao and Iroh make their way to an oasis thingy, which two fish. Those fish are the moon and ocean and spirits. These spirits pretty much give waterbenders ther power.
So Zhao kills the moon one. …That’s, dark. It was cool in the show, but it feels just weird here. And yes, they explain why the spirits are fish, but I don’t care. This disrupts the balance of the world, big time.
This pisses Iroh off, and it’s actually kind of awesome. But, he doesn’t attack Zhao, and I must retract the statement.
but remember what Yue said earlier? Scrolls back up if you don’t, I am not saying it again. Yue says she can give her life back to the moon spirit. Yep, she is sacrficing her life to restore balance. In the show, this was pretty damn awesome, as well as heartbreaking for sokka. Here? LOLNO.
You know why. I care nothing about these characters, thanks to poor writing. So this scene, flat out doesn’t work. But…i have to say, it’s the closet to emotion you’ll get in this movie, and the scene is technically well made…but again, it’s the writing that kills it.
Zhao runs off, and bumps into Zuko. Zuko first wants to fight, but Iroh says it’s not worth it. Zhao isn’t having it, so he tries to kick his ass, but Iroh jumps in.
Then Iroh jumps out, to leave Zhao to his fate. What is that fate? Being drowned by some faceless waterbenders. WHAT A CLIMAX.
I mean, wow, that is LAME. In the show, Zhao was killed by the ocean spirit as revenge. That was awesome. This? Not so much. All that build up for THIS?!
Aang goes into the Avatar state again…which is odd. Th bad guy is gone. The rest of them should back away by now, as they are clearly fucked. So why Aang need to hulk out?! Again, it made more sense in the show, as Aang did this BEFORE! Whatever, it looks cool.
So he drowns the army, and the day is saved again. Aang is stands in front of the people, and they all bow to him.
“They want to be there, Avatar Oong”
This scene should be awesome, mostly due to the score….but it’s really not. Mostly cuz of this.
And…that’s it. There’s a sequel hook in a sec, but that’s mostly is. No epilogue, no nothing! Lame. Ozai is in his room, talking to someone. He mentions how everyone has failed him.
“Sozin’s comet is coming in three years”
The whole “comet makes firebenders” stronger thing was in the show too, so I can’t blame the movie for how inaccurate that is.
“you must stop the avatar from mastering earth and fire. Do you accept this unspeakably important task you hold in your hands?”
“I do father”
DUN DUN DUN! I’d explain who exactly that is…but at this point, it doesn’t matter. I’m glad the sequel plans have pretty much stopped, because this looks like nothing like the character. Well, that and THIS MOVIE SUCKS!
This review went by quicker than I thought it would. Mostly cuz I didn’t have a lot to say, since most of my fan bitching was cut out. So if they review was boring and pointless, I am sorry.
I am also sorry I had to remind you of this movie, as it is awful. It fails as an adaptation, is it takes all the complex themes, all the true character development , and all the epic-ness, and throws it out the window. Sometimes, it gets minor story parts right, but then it’s too little, too little late.
The problem here, is that it tried too hard to put all the story in. They forgot to DEVELOP the story, and it glosses all the things that bad the show good. I get that they had to compress one season of 20 half hours into one movie, but they could have done better. 95 minutes was just too short for this story. It needed to be 2 and a half hours, at least. Kids can handle it, just ask Harry potter!
So thus, all personality is sucked out of the characters, making them blank slates. The characters are all dull, uninteresting, and the actors are all bad. I don’t blame the actors, as there is no way to make this awful dialogue good. Pretty much every line is dull exposition, and the writing gives them such bad stuff, that no one could make it good.
Even on it’s own, it sucks. It makes no sense at all. It doesn’t explain anything about the lore, there is no reason to care about these characters, and non-fans won’t follow it at all. It doesn’t help that the fights overuse slow motion, and are directed badly.
Sure, the score is good, some acting is alright, the costumes are cool,, and the effects are decent. But overall, it’s terrible. It has it’s funny moments, like PENIS hair, but it’s not even so bad it’s good. It’s just bad.
In hindsight, it’s not the worst, but it’s still bad. I’ve explained all of this before, and I feel like a dumbass for saying it again.
It hasn’t gotten better after all this time. But I’m glad I finally gave myself some closure by doing this review. I leave you with the real Aang, sokka, karatra and zuko summing this up.
“That…wasn’t a good play”
“But the effects were decent!”
See ya, hopefully with something better.