THE LAST AIRBENDER
That said, this movie isn't terrible. I'd give it a 7 out of 10. The relative unknowns that play, well just about everyone especially Sokka and Ang (okay I know M Night Shemamamalalaan wanted to change the names to make them sound more Asian but was that really necessary?NO!), are just about perfect. The casting is almost perfect, the only poor choice is the man who played Uncle Iro. The actor is good but he's just not Iro, not the chubby loving lovable uncle serio comic villain / hero sad/happy man we've come to know and love. That was one of many changes that irritate and drag what is the best tv show on the air ever anywhere down to a sadder story. The tv show was spiritual, happy, funny, humorous, joyful, chilling, sad, happy, etc. Ang's joyous side is never really shown in the movie, never balanced with his sadder, darker moments. This alone brings the movie down sevreal notices.
In the first five mintues, we've skipped over about two whole episodes or more. I knew it was going to be more mundane than the series when the exciting first meeting of Ang and Zuko (in the show) was handled with...a less than exciting semi action scene. In the show ZUko fires at the flying bison and brings down the mountain on his own ship. Instead we get Zuko and Iro calmly watching Appa fly off, nothing happening. This happens a lot in the movie. Instead we get a ton of expoistion scenes of the FIre Lord and his right hand man Gen Zhau talking ALOT. The urgency, the high tension action sequences, the warm spirituality, the balance of yin and yang, good and evil, sad and happy, the boyish Ang playing joyfully, respecting nature, all of it lost as the movie rushes toward setting up the finale which covered two episodes in the series first season.
Trouble is: lots is skipped, lots is lost, not the best of which is the pirates vs Zuko vs Ang, Sokka and Kotura on a river while they all vie for the water bending scroll. Other things lost: the dragon monster in the water that versus Ang. I also felt the violence displayed by Sokka and even Ang was sort of out of place and was better handled on the tv show. I also didn't feel the end of Yue and her whole Moon spirit thing was handled as good as it was on the show. The end of Gen Zhau was also not well done.
This is not to say the movie wasn't good. It was but it wasn't the series and frankly it is just another fantasy movie of battles and semi psuedo relgiion rather than the masterpiece it was on televsion. If they wanted to go for this then mabye they should have taken five or six episodes and made a three hour film or something. As this is, the entire thing loses a great deal from what made the tv show so FANTASTIC. Even Ang's fight scenes lose something. The choregraphy is not what it was on the show. Did they use the same fight arrangers? If not, they should have. Visually the movie is stunning. The dialog, the script, the skipping of stuff (I'm told they filmed a great deal and cut a great deal, and I"m also told that the script had EVERY first season episode in it), just add up to a major dissapointment for this fan of the tv show. I can't see how any fan of the tv show won't be upset by the movie and skipping so many funny and dramatic events. One example of this rushed mess is when Sokka first arrives the the nothern air temple: a narration tells us that he and Yue get to know each other very well. No sexual tension, no tension at all, no real time to develop a characterization, a chemistry (to the actors' credits they come very close to making us believe they have chemistry and are in love). Lost is the fact that another Water Bender loves Yue or at least is trying to impress her and rivals Sokka for her love and tries to prove himself...the subplot and the interaction and thus, the story, is lost. The driving pulse pounding river chase, Ang's jealousy over the Air Temple that fights in the sky using flying machines, even Momo and Appa's rivalry/friendship, and the toad search to save a nearly frozen Sokka and Kotara are ALL lost. Add to that, if you go scene by scene of Ang's revival from the ice, guess which one is more dramatic, tense, and chilingly spiritual? By having him laying down instead of frozen standing, we miss the eye light up sequence.
Similarly, when Ang realizes the monks are all dead and gone and he goes into Avatar state, the entire dramatic chilling tension and amazing sequence (again, on tv) is cut short. Ang's power was felt on tv during that and also Kotara's immense love for him and her ability to try to control his human side. Instead of the power we should see throughout the world as Ang goes Avatar, we get to see him in the spirit world...at entirely the wrong time. It's a dissapointing movie on many fronts and I almost walked out of the movie, not that it was terrible mind you but just NOT the tv show and it doesn't even come close...
Again if you haven't seen this animated series, GO GET IT AND WATCH IT. It's just awesome. THe movie? Just a 7out of 10. THe show : a ten out of ten.