M. Night Shyamalan’s live- action adjustment of Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko’s animated series Avatar: The Last Airbender appeared doomed even before it hit theaters. There was a backlash over Shyamalan modifying the series’ Inuit and Asian characters with white stars, with some calling for a boycott of the movie. And after that, debate aside, the movie was seriously knocked on release; Roger Ebert called it “an agonizing experience in every category I can think of and others still waiting to be invented.” 10 years later on, with the original series and the live- action movie both added to Netflix, the series is taking pleasure in a new cultural revival. Netflix is establishing a new live- action remake, this time as a series. It appears as good a time as any to review themovie Is it truly as bad as its tradition recommends?
Regrettably, if anything, it’s even worse.
The whitewashing of the leads is glaringly obvious from the start, as practically the whole rest of the cast is played by stars of Native or asian descent. The white faces of Katara (Nicola Peltz), Sokka (Jackson Rathbone), and their granny (Katharine Houghton) make them feel like complete strangers or trespassers, and the effect just aggravates as the characters choose it’s their task to free Earth Kingdom towns, all of which are occupied by characters played by Asian stars. It ends up being a white-savior story.
Nicola Peltz as Katara in The LastAirbender
Image: Paramount Pictures.
The problems just increase from there, as Shyamalan has a hard time to pack a whole 20- episode TELEVISION season’s worth of events into a 103- minutemovie The circulation of the story is lost amidst rushed voiceovers and a choppiness that needs audiences to be familiar with the animated series in order to comprehend what’s goingon That hurried quality impacts the efficiencies, too. At best, they’re flat. Even a veteran star like Shaun Toub (playing Uncle Iroh) can just do so much with how bit he’s offered– he puts as much inflection into his line shipment as possible, however he still stops working to make much of an impression. At worst, the efficiencies are puzzling– too much of the dialogue was later on called in, and appears to come from the backs of character’s heads, or from off- screen. The irregular modifying makes the action feel inert, and the characters’ inspirations are incomprehensible.
The couple of minutes that do land– a group of Earthbenders collectively introducing a stone, Toub creating fire from absolutely nothing, a fight inside a structure with hanging walls– aren’t made great since they’re well shot or acted. It’s more that they show why a live- action version of an animated series exists to beginwith Viewing the original show, it’s appealing to question what such fantastical acts would look like in real life. Seeing them in fact come to life is wonderful. It’s not adequate to bring a whole movie.
Shaun Toub as Iroh in The LastAirbender
Image: Paramount Pictures.
If anything, The Last Airbender is a cautionary tale to be thought about as Netflix moves forward with its live- actionshow The movie took fan goodwill for approved, covering several episodes’ worth of story through belabored exposition. Part of the pacing problem will be resolved by making the reboot a TELEVISION series instead of a brief movie, however the new series still deals with a problem that has ended up being larger and larger in current years: Why retell an existing, well-told story, instead of creating a new one? The Last Airbender didn’t add anything new to the discussion, and numerous current remakes, restarts, and adjustments– Artemis Fowl, The Lion King, Men in Black: International– have actually fallen under the very same trap, reworking old material instead of checking out new area.
Luckily, the new live- action series will be helmed by series creators Michael DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko, who have already promised that the new adjustment will be “non-whitewashed” That’s a big step in the right direction, not just since of the live- action movie’s struggling racial characteristics, however since the animated series faced a comparable problem– practically all of the main characters were voiced by white entertainers. The vow that the Netflix series will star “culturally appropriate” stars is a substantial step forward, particularly as the show business is progressively reckoning with casting white voice actorsas non-white characters The remake appears like a ideal chance to right that wrong, as well as possibly more establishing the amalgamation of Asian cultures that primarily serves as set dressing in the animated series.
The live- action Last Airbender is stunning to review since it stops working on many levels besides its casting. It’s also a suggestion of both the facile and much deeper factors that the concept of turning the animated series into a live- action movie or show is appealing. On a surface area level, it’s a chance to get lost in a fantasyworld Go much deeper, and it ends up being a chance to tell a story effectively; not just to retell a tale, however to make it more significant, offering more factor to consider to the cultures the animated series is plainly pulling from, and supplying the unusual chance to cast a significant work mostly with stars of Indigineous and asian descent. In a perfect world, The Last Airbender may remain one step back, however the upcoming live- action series might be 2 stepsforward
Both The Last Airbender and Avatar: The Last Airbender are streaming on Netflix.