Sunday, April 29, 2012

The Last Airbender: another animated-feature-into-film flop

the Poster:

the Trailer:

the Plot:
Fourteen-year-old Katara (Nicola Peltz) and her fifteen-year-old brother, Sokka (Jackson Rathbone), are near a river at the South Pole, in the Southern Water Tribe, the small village. While hunting, they discover an iceberg that shoots a beam of light into the sky. Inside of the iceberg is a boy named Aang (Noah Ringer) and a giant flying bison named Appa. Unknown to them, Aang is the long lost Avatar — the only person on the planet able to "bend" all four elements. One hundred years have passed since the Fire Nation has declared war on the other three nations of Air, Water and Earth in their attempt to conquer the world.

Zuko (Dev Patel), is an exiled prince of the Fire Nation, is on a quest to find the Avatar and bring him as prisoner to his father, Fire Lord Ozai (Cliff Curtis), so he can return back home. Seeing the light that appeared from Aang's release, Zuko and some Fire Nation soldiers arrive at the Southern Water Tribe to demand the villagers hand over the Avatar. Aang reveals himself as he surrenders himself to Zuko on the condition that he agrees to leave the village alone.

On the ship, Aang is tested by Zuko's Uncle Iroh (Shaun Toub) to confirm him to be the Avatar. After being informed that he is to be their prisoner for passing the test, Aang escapes using his glider and flies to his flying bison brought by Katara and Sokka.

Aang and his new friends visit the Southern Air Temple and he learns that he was in the ice for a whole century and that the Fire Nation wiped out all of the Air Nomads, including his guardian, Monk Gyatso. In despair, he enters the Avatar state and finds himself in the spirit world where he encounters a dragon spirit that tells him that he only knows the Power of Air, and that he also needs to learn Power of Water, the Power of Earth and the Power of Fire to be a true fully realized Avatar. The dragon spirit tells him that he should learn the Power of Water first, and the best teacher is in the Northern Water Tribe.

To seek shelter, Aang's group arrive at the little Earth Kingdom village controlled by the Fire Nation, and they are arrested because Katara tries to help a young boy escape from a Fire nation patrol soldiers. They incite a rebellion by reminding the disgruntled Earthbenders that earth was given to them. Katara is given a Waterbending scroll that she uses to greatly strengthen and hone her Waterbending and help Aang learn as they make their way to the Northern Water Tribe and liberate and secure more Earth Kingdom villages in the process, weakening the Fire Nation's food and water supplies.

During a side track to the Northern Air Temple on his own, Aang is betrayed by a peasant and captured by a group of Fire Nation archers, led by Admiral Zhao (Aasif Mandvi), a Fire Nation Admiral appointed by the Fire Lord. However, a masked marauder, the "Blue Spirit", helps Aang escape from his imprisonment. Zuko is the masked vigilante, and Zhao realizes this. He arranges to kill the prince. Zuko survives the attempt on his life with Iroh's help. He sneaks aboard Zhao's lead ship as his fleet departs for the Northern Water Tribe, which is a heavy fotress, to capture the Avatar. Upon arriving, Aang's group is welcomed warmly by the citizens of the Northern Water Tribe.

Immediately, Sokka befriends the Northern Water Tribe princess, Yue (Seychelle Gabriel). After a few agreements, a Waterbending master, Pakku (Francis Guinan), teaches Aang Waterbending.

Soon, the Fire Nation arrives and Zhao begins his attack while Zuko begins his search for the Avatar on his own, capturing Aang as he enters the spirit world to find the dragon spirit to give him the wisdom to defeat the Fire Nation. Returning to his body, Aang battles Zuko before Katara freezes him. As the battle escalates, Iroh watches Zhao capture the moon spirit Tui, with which its water spirit counterpart had assumed the form of a fish. Despite Iroh's pleas, Zhao kills Tui to strip the Waterbenders of their powers and abilities to Waterbend.

Yue explains to everyone that the moon spirit gave her life, willing to give it back as she dies in the process. With the tables turned, Zhao is drowned by Waterbenders after Zuko and Iroh leave him to his fate. With his Waterbending powers, Aang raises the ocean into a gigantic wall in order to drive the armada back.

Aang now fully embraces his destiny as the Avatar as he, Katara and Sokka prepare to continue their journey to the Earth Kingdom to find an Earthbending teacher for Aang. The Fire Lord learns of the defeat, and angry about the betrayal of his son eldest Zuko, he tasks his youngest daughter Azula (Summer Bishil) to stop the Avatar from mastering Earth and Fire before the arrival of Sozin's Comet.

the Riviu:

this movie is an adaptation of a popular Nickelodeon animated tv series. the director, M. Night Shyamalan was interested in filming this movie due to his childrens' love of the series. i admit, i am a fan of the animated series too, it was funny, and full of zeal. Aang was youngish, fun and interesting. so is Katara and Sokka, they provide comic relief and act their age.

which the film fails to portray. Aang was made to be melancholic and devoid of emotion. when the dragon accused that Aang was full of grief and anger over the death of the monks, i was like, hello? mana ade! he was mute of any emotion whatsoever, angry or not.

Katara and Sokka, they were played by a much older actor/actress, who failed to deliver a convincing interpretation of their characters. Katara was too melancholic and old-ish , Sokka so bland instead of effervescent. the so-called romance between Sokka and Princess Yue was non-existent and tepid. i'd rather watch Zuko almost half of the movie, he was that ok as compared to other characters.

the film was criticised for whitewashing the supposedly Asian characters into a Westernised bunch. the Fire Nations were represented by Indian-descents whilst Aang, Katara and Sokka were Caucasians.

apart from that, it tried to focus on so many characters, and lost the main pull of the story, the transformation of Aang the fun-loving Child monk to the serious Avatar, the hero who fought for justice and peace.

i don't know how to express my entire feelings watching this flop of a movie. as i am a fan of the great animation series, i was left with a stale taste in my mouth when i watch this movie, and dollops of disappointment, the same feeling i felt watching Dragonball Evolution. Perhaps Hollywood better leaves us cult anime fan alone!

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