It's time for me to review Avatar.
No, no, no... Not the horrifying James Cameron movie that stole the name from the film that really deserved it. I'm talking about the real Avatar. You know, the movie based on one of the most amazing TV shows of all time.
Pictured: Flawless Victory
Before I start, I need to let you all know that I am absolutely, completely biased about this movie. But, then again, if you were looking for an unbiased opinion of things, you'd probably be somewhere else. Like, somewhere not the internet.
Avatar: The Last Airbender is one of my favorite TV shows. I avoided it for a long time, as I was under the opinion that nothing that Nickelodeon produced could ever be good. I can never thank the friend of mine who sat me down and made me watch the show enough. I have never seen another animated series that has better character development and a more engaging plot. Avatar: TLA has some truly wonderful episodes, along with characters that you really feel emotionally connected to, despite the fact that they're animated. All in all, the show is absolutely wonderful. So, naturally, when I saw that there was going to be a live action adaptation of the first season, turned into a trilogy, I was excited.
I totally kept my cool, though
So I heard, and I waited, and then I finally saw the trailer. It looked perfect! The effects looked amazing, and the first trailer featured the main character being badass while the bad guys show up in their awesome ships looking incredibly badass! All the while, the whole thing is delivered with beautiful, epic music in the background. Even the POSTER is awesome!
It looks totally amazing! How could this possibly go...
Now, I once had respect for Shyamalan as a director - namely, right after Sixth Sense. I really enjoyed that movie. It was smart, creepy, and altogether well done. Then, Signs happened. Then The Village. And later, The Happening. Throughout this period of time, I lost just about all respect that I ever had for the man. Despite the fact that I was one of the few people who actually really enjoyed Lady in the Water, I still had my serious doubts about a Shyamalan-directed version of something like Airbender.
So time rolled by and, while the trailers continued to be epic, my lingering doubt still clung to me like a really annoying and vaguely depressing leech. When The Last Airbender came out last week, the initial reports were bad, to put it lightly. People were hating this movie in the reviews, especially people who were fans of the show. Due to a convention, it took me a few days to see it myself, and I was braced for the worst. So I sat down, started on my drink, and...
Damn. This movie isn't bad at all.
While Airbender does suffer from Shyamalan Syndrome (a main character who cannot act his way out of an open field), the movie is actually quite enjoyable. While it does not have the time to get into the level of character/plot development that an entire season of episodes does, TLA manages to run rather smoothly. The only real problems that I had are the acting performances of two characters. Noah Ringer's portrayal of Aang, the main character, is stiff and boring at best, and can get really awkward. On the flip side, Asif Mandvi's character of Commander Zhao, one of the primary antagonists, is so ridiculously evil and slimy to the point of being almost comical.
Look at how EEEEEEVIL I am! I'm so horribly EEEEVIL because I'm EEEEEVIL!
Seriously, if he had a mustache, he'd twirl it so hard he'd sprain his lip.
But beyond that... I really have to say that the movie is pretty solid. It tells the main plot of the first season of the show, and does so in a way where you really don't miss out on any of the important parts. More than that, though, the movie is bloody gorgeous. On a considerably smaller budget than Cameron's Smurf-Opera, The Last Airbender pulls off some special effects that make Cameron's Avatar blush. Needless to say, the bending duels are the highlight of the film's effects, though the ice city on the North Pole is also quite beautiful. While the effects are still impressive normally, this is definitely a movie that I would suggest seeing in 3D. It really is worth it.
Bottom line. Is the movie as good as the show? Of course not. The thing that really makes the show great is the amazing cast of characters and how well they are developed - both among the heroes and the rogue's gallery. The movie is a fun time, definitely, but it does fail to capture the full scope and depth of the Avatar world. I would suggest seeing this movie - it's fun, gorgeous, and decently written, so long as you can struggle through some less than great acting jobs.
But more than anything else, I'd suggest you go and watch the TV series. You can find it online on Netflix Instant Watch, along with various other Anime sites. It's only three seasons, and it is more than worth every episode.
Final Grade - Movie: B-
Final Grade - TV Series: A++
It's nice to get a good movie reviewed, especially one that I was fearing would be awful. I'm really looking forward to Monday, when I get to review my next movie. Now I just have to figure out what it's going to...
... Oh God.