This has been in my drafts since forever, so I’m just going to post it.
Ok, Lake Logai, there is no movie in Ba Sing Se, blah blah blah…
Now that we have that out of the way…
While watching the movie that doesn’t really exist, I realized something. I don’t think the worst part of the movie is the shitty ass bending, the terrible action sequences, the bad editing, or the racebending. Sure, those are all pretty terrible and atrocious, and you can talk at length about how all those things suck, but there is one crime that overshadows all of these bad decisions, a crime so terrible that not even doing everything else right could save it. Ladies and gentlemen, the biggest crime of “The Last Airbender,” is that it lacks agency and nuance.
People just do things to get from point A, to point B, and you barely feel anything for the characters. Aang’s a whiny, emotionless little shit (wow, I can’t believe I just said that); Sokka is emotionless, humorless, and incredibly monotone (well, movie!Katara and movie!Aang are too but that’s besides the point); Katara is fucking annoying, and too busy narrating to actually have character; Iroh is way too serious; and while Zuko at least had the brooding part down, you don’t really feel bad for him the way you do for show Zuko.
And, as far as agency goes, the movie is completely lacking in it. I don’t want to sound like a dumbass here, but it’s exactly like watching a historical documentary that does nothing to show you why people did the things they did and why things happened. It just says “here are a few interesting facts, watch as I completely butcher everything by sucking the soul out of all your favorite characters.”
Everything seems to revolve around this emotionless world savior that ran away not because he was a 12 year old kid burdened by the responsibility of being the Avatar, but because he couldn’t have a family. And when he does come back, he’s barely trying to struggle with the consequences of his actions, and everyone begins to rally to his flag on the spot. Why? In the show, at least, they tried to say “hey, look, your actions have consequence,” “hey, we’re not going to rise up just because you’re the Avatar."
That’s what made the show so special. It showed consequence, it showed that these people had lives and identities. But somehow, M. Night Shyamalan managed to suck all that from the movie.
The writing is also, of course, terrible, way too wordy, and filled with needless narration and exposition. People just randomly say things without paying attention to their surroundings. What’s the deal?
At the same time, a bit of the writing could work, but Shyamalan ruins it by dropping lines at the worst time possible (”This was their practice area,” “The Firelord’s son.” I DON’T FUCKING CARE!).
That, and I don’t want to say "in the show” again, but when Shyamalan does use the lines from the show, or something similar to those lines he:
Gives those lines to different characters which doesn’t make sense and robs the original characters of possible character development.
Example: Iroh getting Aang’s lines about balance.
Makes characters stupid by asking stupid ass questions
I’m looking at you, Yue.
Robs characters of their own agency and motive.
For example, instead of Yue choosing to sacrifice herself because she feels like it’s her duty, she needs Iroh to tell her to do it.
Prior to that, instead of Aang showing off how spiritually enlightened he is, his lines about the Moon and Ocean spirits bringing balance to everyone is given to Iroh. Which, although it make sense for him to say, still robs Aang of possible character development.Granted, he had little character to begin with.
Aang getting Katara’s “Imprisoned” speech
It’s strange to watch this, and then see an interview that was made prior to this movie’s creation where Shyamalan sounds enthusiastic and knowledgeable about this world. What happened, Shyamalan? Apparently a lot of the changes were out of Shyamalan’s control, but I don’t really buy it due to how terrible this movie was. The writing, and timing was still awful.
That, and after watching enough of Nostalgia Critic’s M. Night reviews, you start to see a consistent pattern.
And I just want to point out that, if you watch the behind the scenes stuff, Noah Ringer does actually act like he could have been a good Aang.
So, what happened? I know he has never acted before, but still.Bad direction?
But, back on the topic of agency, there were just a lot of opportunities to have characters develop, interact, and grow. But instead everyone’s a stick in the mud. Take this deleted scene for example:
Ignoring the fact that there’s no bending for whatever reason (even though Yue already sacrificed herself), this would have been a great time for Aang to drop his “but I’m just one kid” line. Technically, it wouldn’t add much because, as I said, Aang’s character in this movie is basically cardboard, but at least it would give us the sense that he had doubts.
And, on top of that, all that, you have Katara seeing that Sokka is upset by Yue’s death (and the collar-grab was very out-of-character but that’s besides the point), and ignoring his feelings, before managing to calm him down by simply telling him to stop.
God, damn, people, show some emotion.
In the mean time, if you haven’t already, feel free to watch the Nostalgia Critic’s review of “The Last Airbender.”:
<b>post:</b> if you're reading this the villain from your favorite movie/show/book will break through the door and kidnap you.<p/><b>me:</b> ...<p/><b>me:</b> *stands up, hands wide open* TAKE ME WITH YOU!!!<p/></p>
[some guy captures Aang, Katara & the cloudbabies]
What have we here? Matching uniforms? *sees Katara* Oh, no Katara? You married Katara? *laughs then looks at the kids* And gOT BUSY!! It's a whole family of benders! Looks like I've hit the jackpot! This is just too good!
If I wasn’t mad about the crappy excuse of a movie remake for Avatar: The Last Airbender…I definitely am now! 😡
Not only did they do literally everything wrong, they kept the iconic fourth book, Air, from ever being made! The book that would solve all the issues and unanswered questions of book three! Just for a movie series that didn’t even take off because it was THAT bad!
Can they all just come back together and make that fourth book anyway? Like, I’d totally watch it 😏 And leave that Zutara hating writer out of it?
“I’m so sad that the ATLA live action movie turned out to be so bad that fans deny its existence. Before I went to watch it I read some interviews with the main cast and the boy who got to play aang seemed to be so genuinely happy that he got the role and was able to show his material arts skills on a big screen. That interview made me really happy, but then the actual movie turned out to be so awful. I can’t help but feel bad for the cast.”