As a series: unfailingly win (though grantedly annoying at times, mostly because I can’t stand male ego and super angst displayed in some of the characters).
As a movie by M. Night Shyamalan: unfailingly…well, fail.
I watched the movie in theaters with a bunch of friends when it first came out, before I’d seen the series. I thought it was pretty awful then, although I could see that it had a good story-line basis.
Recently, Michael and I got Netflix and watched all three seasons of the series in about 3 weeks. I loved it. LOVED. Was addicted. Forfeited sleep. It’s rare that I come across such a good story-line, and I’m like a kid in a candy-store when I find a good story.
After watching the whole series, I thought I’d give the movie a second shot, hoping that I’d like it a little better. Oh, how wrong I was. The following is just a rant to make me feel better.
- As everyone in the internets have already pointed out, the pronunciations are wrong. This just shows that Shyamalan didn’t care. He had 3 seasons’ worth of excellent material to draw from, complete with all of the characters talking to each other. Aang is…Ang. Not Ong. Sokka is Sockuh, not Soakuh. He’s the Avatar, not the Ahvahtar. Iroh is Eyeroh, not Eeroh. Etc. Etc. Etc.
- The acting. Oh lord, the acting. Let’s just say that it rivals Christian movies. (ouchburn)
- The bending. In every form, it’s too slow and takes too many moves. At one point in a battle between the earth kingdom and the fire nation, it takes 6 (seemingly) experienced men to create…a 12-inch rock. And another to kick it at approximately 5ft/hour into a fire bender who just stood there and waited for it to take him out. Air bending looks clumsy and heavy. Fire benders apparently can only bend when fire is present, unlike in the series in which they can simply…create it from their internal energy. HUGE plot point.
- The reason (in the movie) Aang ran away was because the Avatar wasn’t allowed to have a family. I’m dying to see how they’re going to explain that if they make the other two movies, when Zuko discovers that he is a descendent of Roku, the previous Avatar, who was married and had children (and there was NOTHING WRONG WITH THAT). In the series, Aang ran away because they were taking him away from his mentor and sending him away to another air temple. He could have a family. In fact, he gets together with Katara in the end. His love for her is commended, not forbidden.
- Sozin’s comet was to return the following year, not 3 years out. And it didn’t give them the power to create fire — they already had that power. It just made them practically invincible.
- Aging and animation. Katara is too young. Sokka and Zuko are too old (and Zuko is way too tall). Azula is too young. Aang is too short. Momo is too thin and clumsy and obviously CG. Appa is also way too CG. Along with most of the bending.
- All. The. Whitewashing. All good characters are white. All bad characters are not. THIS IS NOT OKAY.
- Kyoshi warriors missing.
- Sokka, Aang, and Katara are all completely wrong personality wise. Aang looks perpetually constipated, ready to throw up, or cry. Sokka is a kill-joy who takes himself waaay too seriously. Katara is way too vanilla with no personality whatsoever. Contrast to the series, in which Aang is very much a 12-year-old boy who likes to play pranks and joke and run around a lot — and who really doesn’t start growing up until most of the way through the second season (none of this “I’m 12-going-on-60” crap). Sokka is perpetual comic relief who tells corny jokes, laughs all the time, and is constantly searching for food (threatening to eat Momo at one point). Katara is sassy, determined, full-of-heart, and loving all the time (with a decent sense of humor and enough female-rage now and then to make her interesting).
- Iroh. OH MY LORD. I probably take his bastardization more personally than anything else, since he’s my favourite character. In the movie, he is tall and thin and sagely — the kind of person you look at and think, “He’s really nice and really wise.” Overall, not really bad…unless you know what he’s supposed to be like. Short. Fat. Obsessed with tea and good food. Constantly saying nonsensical things that really are full of wisdom but really sound like he’s a silly stupid old man. I love him the same way and reason I love Dumbledore. And all nonsensical old men.
- Zuko. Missing his cool pony-tail thing signifying his royalty. Also, he has half a face more than he should. In the series, the left side of his face is SEVERELY scarred, in that he’s missing an eyebrow and eyelashes and can’t open his eye all the way, and his face still looks raw. In the movie…let’s just say that I didn’t know he had a scar until the second time I saw it (just now), and looked really closely.
- Admiral Jiao is supposed to be a lot smarter and more egotistical than he is in the movie. In the movie, he’s slippery and sleazy looking and also way more nervous than a man of his position should be. Much like the dean of men of my old university.
- The Blue Spirit wasn’t that hairy.
I could go on. And on. And on. I’m normally not that nit-picky with movies, because usually they’re interpreting a book…not something that already has an established visual and verbal style. Just…ugh. I couldn’t be more disappointed with the movie.