Ever since hearing about the atrocities that M. Night Shyamalan committed when he decided to produce the popular animated Nickelodeon series of Avatar: The Last Airbender, I have been looking forward to the opportunity to review his cinematic development. The television show follows the adventures of a carefree 12-year-old named Aang who lives in a world where a certain few possess the special power to control one of the four elements: water, earth, fire, or air. One select person in the world, the Avatar, is born with the ability to harness the power of all four elements and keep peace between the people. Frozen in ice for one hundred years, Aang wakes to the harsh reality of war against the Fire Nation. Over several seasons, the program deals with Aang’s struggle to master the elements with a teenage crew in tow while fighting off a horde of enemies bent on capturing him. There is also a plethora of comedy, friendship, and lovable characters that have turned this into a popular show.
Now, imagine this type of animated series on the movie screen. Suddenly, the innocent and fun-loving Aang disappears, replaced by a stiff child who goes about his duty with a morose expression on his face. All traces of comedy vanish into thin air, completely erasing the animated, lovable foundation that the television show laid for itself. Throughout the movie, the lead characters wear expressions akin to being told that their salaries had just been cut in half. The more experienced actors thrown into lesser roles were completely undermined by the general ineptitude of the film, though they played their parts with emotion and conviction. While the Avatar and friends journey all over the world in a slightly haphazard sequence of events, the audience is at least permitted the visual gift of seeing the incredible scenery and creative costumes depicted.
To summarize, the popular series of Avatar: The Last Airbender was certainly not done justice in film form as The Last Airbender. In order to not have your perception of an amazing series besmirched by the real-life version on the big screen, the library has the DVD selection of the television show available for checking out. The movie only covered the first of three seasons, but at least this means that there are two more films coming soon for fans to enjoy as much as The Last Airbender.
Review by Emma M., teen blogger