As a lover of the show, this has been a long-time-coming-that-I-put-off-as-long-as-possible.
My urge to not do this is so strong…I’m writing this before I watch the movie by the way.
I wanted to do it ever since I did my first verses of City of Bones. I didn’t watch Avatar: the Last Airbender growing up. I thought about it and saw it sometimes on TV, but it was one of those shows I wanted to watch from the beginning and never caught it during a marathon, so it never happened until five years ago when I found out Amazon has all the seasons for free (well, did.) And so I binged it, with my dad.
It easily became one of my favorite shows of all time. I love the characters, the world, the bending, and how serious it is for a “kids show.”
I never watched The Last Airbender, only some parts through people reviewing it or the one time my sister had it on and I watched five minutes and that’s all I wanted to see.
This isn’t a review of the movie or the show. I have numerous posts about Avatar: the Last Airbender you can check out (under recommended at the bottom) but for this, it’s me merely comparing the two, me nitpicking the shit out of it. Before even watching it I know there are many problems so I’m just going to mention, what I believe, are the worst things the movie did in comparison to the show.
Hopefully, this doesn’t get too long.
*spoilers for the show and movie and I’m not including any gifs/pictures of the movie because…well I don’t want to*
Disrespect of Characters
I personally think the driving force of any show/book/movie is the characters or else there wouldn’t be much to it. Each character in the show has their own personality and something about them that we love individually.
In the movie they are cardboard.
I could get into Aang (sorry ONG, I won’t get into the pronunciation of the names) not having his fun personality, Katara’s passion is completely gone, but to me, I think the biggest insult was Sokka.
There is NOTHING to him. No jokes, I think he smiled once, and the sibling love between him and Katara is nonexistent. He’s weirdly possessive and boy, some of the line delivery is just painful.
I think the closest they got was Zuko and Iroh, but even they didn’t have much to offer. I think most of Zuko was just feeding information, literally telling the audience about his past through forced exposition. I cringed the entire time.
And Firelord Ozai was the least intimidating character in the movie. Also, why did they show him? He didn’t even need to be in the movie! Just word of mouth made him intimidating enough in the show.
The Avatar Lore
One of the things that strangely got to me was the explanation of the Avatar. Information was thrown out in different parts of the movie, which is fine so there’s not a lot of exposition at once, but I swear they didn’t mention Aang’s past lives until they got to Kyoshi Island, which felt a little late if no one’s heard of the show before.
There’s also little things like, lining up the elements in front of Aang and having them react…would they react to him all the time then? And apparently, the Avatar isn’t allowed to have a family? Might want to tell Roku that, just to name an example.
Do the Macarena
The bending was so off. Sometimes one move did something (like it should), other times you had to do the entire “Cha-Cha Slide” to move a damn rock. And obviously, bigger more powerful moves took extra effort but even in the show, one or two movements did a lot of damage. The bending didn’t even look that impressive.
Oh and poor Katara. I always commended her growth but there was nothing. She couldn’t even prove herself in a fight with Zuko, which lasted much longer in the show. She literally got knocked out within seconds at the END of the movie, where her bending should’ve been improved.
This is a little nitpick but why did Aang have a hard time waterbending? Earthbending is what he had a hard time with. Why did they decide to add that into the story?
I swear 90% of this movie is feeding information to the audience. I get the show had an entire season to do that, but holy shit do I need to mention (again) the scene where Zuko is talking to this random kid about his past and he’s asking the kid to tell HIM about how he got his scar.
I hated that scene so much.
These are things I just decided to put into a list that didn’t fit anywhere else.
- Zuko’s scar is barely noticeable.
- They didn’t ask Aang’s name until they got to the Air Temple.
- “Are you the Ovatar Ong?”
- The change of race/whitewashing (I know that’s been a complaint before but I still needed to mention it.)
- Aang made a big wave to scare away the Fire Nation…what happened to the big fish?
- No Suki.
- The earth prisoners not being held on a metal ship but ON THE EARTH. And it took them that long to fight back?
- Seven earthbenders moving one rock. I’m glad we didn’t see what they’d do with Toph.
- This whole thing about Aang “bowing back” to show he’s the Avatar. I think he decided to take on the role when he found out all his people were killed, not an entire season.
- Appa’s basically nonexistent.
- So is Momo.
- The long-ass Star Wars scroll at the beginning.
- Sokka finding Aang in the ice and breaking it, not Katara.
- Ozai giving a shit about Zuko (at least, that’s how it came across to me.)
- Sokka and Yue’s five-minute relationship.
- The lack of friendship/chemistry between all characters, but especially Katara and Aang.
- General Yao was the worst with exposition and he got on my nerves real quick.
- The part about the Avatar not being able to have a family I know I already mentioned it but WHY IS THIS A THING THEY DECIDED TO ADD.
- Zuko’s lack of HONOR (I don’t think he said it once.)
- Iroh’s lack of tea.
- The lack of a potential romance between Aang and Katara/Aang’s crush on Katara.
- Me looking up videos of the show on Youtube and finding next to nothing but *EPIC* fight scenes from the movie. Yeah, let’s see how that one rock gets moved by seven people once more. Or Katara pushing a guy. Katara pushing a guy. Katara pushing a guy. KATARA.
I’m Glad I’m Done With This
To be honest, I don’t remember watching the last fifteen minutes. I was actually playing the Sims while watching because I didn’t want to put my full attention in it, but it was still enough for me to cringe.
I think more than anything, I was bored. When I wasn’t laughing at how bad it was, there was nothing to it. Even when the show had some slower episodes or some that weren’t as popular, they still held your attention.
It didn’t represent the life of the show. It didn’t do any justice to the likable characters, the interesting world, or the overall message. I don’t even know what the message of the movie was? Aang taking on his role and FINALLY bowing back, accepting he will never be able to have a family…
What’s the most I got out of the movie? If anything?
It made me want to rewatch the show and made me appreciate it much more.
Basically, it’s fun to make fun of, but at the same time is so boring I wouldn’t recommend wasting your time even doing that. I’m glad I didn’t actually have my full attention on it or else I would’ve fallen asleep or given up altogether.
And because of this adaptation, I am nervous about the Netflix one. I know the same people are working on it, but I also don’t understand the purpose of a live adaptation when the original is perfect and all it will be is with real people.
I sound like someone who’s not excited about The Lion King.