Saturday, July 3, 2010

A Night at the Movies

I was looking forward to yesterday for a while.  (That sounds weird...but go with it.) My Mister was out of town all week and got back in last night, so having him safely home again was wonderful.  Since my sister has moved out, that meant I was alone all week long- it was a little lonely, I'll admit.  But, don't cry for me, Argentina.  I was able to work out and just chill, which was nice. 

In addition to my Mister's homecoming, I was looking forward to yesterday because it was the opening day of The Last Airbender.  For those of you who don't know, it is the live-action film of the amazing cartoon Avatar: The Last Airbender that was on Nickelodeon.  I have been looking forward to this movie ever since it was first announced. I love the show and am not ashamed to admit that I’m an adult who watches cartoons. (Or, at least really great cartoons that have an awesome story line and characters that I can actually care about rather than stupid potty humor and incomprehensible language skills). I got hooked on it while I was crocheting my Mario Blanket and I found out that both my sis and my brother were fans of it, as well.  Doesn't surprise me- we're a bunch of nerds.   My sis and I had been planning on seeing it on opening night for a while, so, right after my Mister got home, he, my sis and I went to see it.

I saw that it was getting a drubbing by the critics, but held out hope since it was getting fairly positive reviews by other viewers. I got goosebumps when I saw the first teaser trailer with Aang blowing out the candles that were lit all around him. I was so freaking excited for this movie!!

After all the buildup for this film, I must say that I left the theater….a little bit….meh. Yes, it could have been better; however, I don’t think it was as bad as others are making it out to be. It was entertaining and I truly hope that people will go and see it just so that there will be a sequel (hopefully with a different director) that will correct some of the mistakes this film made. The first Twilight film…the first Harry Potter film….not as good as the subsequent films. Give this one a chance in hopes that it will also get better! If you do see it, I’d recommend not wasting your money on 3D- the retrofitting of the film to 3D didn’t add anything to it. And, after the movie, they asked us to recycle our glasses. I just paid $3 for these glasses- Ima gonna keep ‘em, thank you very much.

SPOILERS AHEAD!

Pros:
1) The look. I thought the cinematography was awesome. The look of the Northern Water Tribe city was Ah-ma-zing. Loved it.

2) The choreography. I’m not a martial artist, so I can’t speak about the technical aspects of the fights, but I was impressed with the look of the fighting/bending moves. Did I try said moves in an effort to bend my Diet Coke out of my cup and into my mouth? Heh. heh. no…ummm….of course not….that’d be silly…..right?

3) Noah Ringer.   He’s a dead ringer (ha! see what I did there?!) for Aang. The kid was awesome- especially in the action scenes. Some people are harshly criticizing his acting….ummm…it’s his first film. Ever. Rewatch Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone and then watch Order of the Phoenix. Notice how the young actors improve with experience? I hope he gets another chance to bring Aang to life! Especially before he gets too old! 

4) Momo and Appa. I LOVED seeing these two lovable creatures brought to life! I really enjoyed hearing their “real” voices, as well. (The voice actor from the show reprised his role for the film. Yay!) I just wish they had more screen time.

5) Seeing Aang in the Avatar State. Squee!

6) Princess Yue- GREAT casting and costumes and makeup on their part- I loved her! She did look like the cartoon brought to life!

CONS:

1) THE FREAKING MISPRONUNCIATION OF NAMES!!!!!! Argh! Or, as it would be pronounced in the film, Uhrgh! They pronounce Avatar as “Auh-vatar” and Aang as “Ung” and Sokka as “Soak-ah” and Iro as “Ear-o.” I cringed every time I heard, “Ung.” Even a little kid in the theater stage whispered to his mom, “His name is AANG.” Yes, little kid. You realize that and yet M. Night is the one getting millions of dollars for his tin ear.

2) The overall lack of humor. Ok, so I know that they were trying to squeeze a whole season of an epically awesome show into 90 minutes (really?!? You couldn’t push for an extra 30??) so, some of the finer details and characters were not going to make the cut. I can understand that. However, when the characters you DO have don’t have the characteristics that make them who they are, you have failed. Sokka was way too serious. As was Aang. There was no child-like-happy-go-lucky-enjoy-life-to-the-fullest attitude in the little bald dude. Now, some blame it on the young actor and his inability to effectively emote. I blame the director- since most of the humor was zapped from the film, it only stands to reason that that’s the way M. Night wanted it. The kid did the best he could with the material he was given. Such a shame.

3) The choreography. Ok- I know I put this in the “pro” category, but there is one thing that had me wanting to yell, “Hurry it up already!” at the screen. It was the overall intolerable length of time and number of moves it took to bend any of the elements. Seriously- if you were dancing for 30 seconds to send a water balloon at my head, I would have gored you with my spear in my very non-bending awesomeness in a second flat. Did they learn nothing from Indiana Jones?

4) The way Aang wussed out at the end. Ok- so, you know how at the end of the first season when the Fire Nation attacks the Northern Water Tribe and the Moon Spirit is killed and then Yue gives her life back to the moon and then Aang, in the Avatar state, turns into this huge fish water/moon being and completely wipes out all of the Fire Nation? Yeah. That was awesome. In the movie, I can understand not having Aang turn into a giant fish monster- it’d probably not translate as well in live-action. However, the Dragon spirit drilled it into his head that, as the Avatar, he’s not supposed to hurt anyone. So, when it comes to totally demolishing the Fire Nation ships, what does he do? In the power of his Avatar state, he create a HUMONGOUS tidal wave that strikes fear into their hearts! You can see them futilely trying to turn the ships around before that colossal wall of water crushes them Moses and the Red Sea style. And then, right when you think they are going to be swimming with the fishes, Aang ever so powerfully, in all his Avatar rage, …..gently lets the water back down again. Without even getting them wet. Just the awe of seeing that huge wall of water was apparently enough to make a whole navy turn back home in fear and in need of new underwear. Waaah! Fire Lord Ozai! The Avatar nearly got some water on me! He’s so mean!

5) The exposition. Ok, again, I know it’s hard to condense a whole season into one film, but I think that M. Night tried too hard to do just that. Instead of showing us the plot and character development, he relied on a whole lot of expository speeches/voice overs to explain everything that we missed (or that we were currently seeing…or were going to see). He could have had a narrower focus and instead worked on character development. I knew these characters cared for each other and really grow up with each other; however, if I had never seen the show before, I probably wouldn’t have really cared or connected with them. Shame shame M. Night.

So, all-in-all, I didn’t think this film was as bad as a lot of folks are saying. I did like it, although it could have been better. The blame squarely lies on M. Night’s shoulders- he wrote, directed AND produced. Next time (I truly do hope there will be a next time!) I hope they get a director who will actually make a decent movie from the awesome source material he has to work with. (Seriously- for 3 seasons the kid’s name was AANG!!! NOT UNG!! Gah!)

*off to plan an Avatar related project*

2 comments:

  1. I agree with your review. The only thing that kept me irritated hours after the movie was hearing "Ung" over and over in my head. It's like waiting to see a live action movie about Sonic the Hedgehog, and hearing his name pronounced "Sonuc". So blatantly bad. Yes, I too kinda enjoyed it, but it was like enjoying a stale donut because there was nothing else sweet to eat.

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  2. Hi Karmen! I never saw this comment- argh. I'm so glad I wasn't the only one who got hung up on "Ung". Sonuc made me LOL for reals. :D

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