Beware: Spoilers may follow.
Avatar the Last Airbender the TV show ranks one of Nickelodeon’s greatest TV shows of all time. In 2010 we got a live action movie adaptation from the mind of M. Night Shayamalan that completely butchered the source material. But perhaps if we look deep there may be something amazing to this movie that Avatar fans and even the creators aren’t seeing in the movie’s attempt to utterly ignore the source material.
The story involves the nations of Earth, Wind, Fire, and Water living in harmony until the Fire nation declared war in attempt to achieve world domination. The only person capable of bringing peace to a land of chaos by mastering all four is the Avatar named Aang. Although presumed dead in the process of training he is found 100 years later by two teens known as Katara and Sokka. With their help he works to restore peace among the ravaged nations.
Shaymalan brilliantly put together 20 episodes of Book 1 by taking out so many characters who were crucial to the plot such as Earthbending King Bumi, Firebender Jeong Jeong, and so many more. The story’s amazing writing conveys a bunch of exposition about this world giving such weight to the story of not telling how the characters feel about anything that happens to them. And there is just so much earnestness in how the writing attempts to breathe an empty void into the characters we know and love by giving no trace of the personalities we know of them and how virtually all their names aren’t even pronounced correctly. But it doesn’t stop there. The writing ingeniously deviates from the source material with no sense whatsoever such as having Earthbenders’ prison be surrounded in a prison where Earth is all around them where they could easily rise up unlike in the show where they were on metal boat where the prospect of any Earthbending would be impossible and break their spirit. Shaymalan also made the inspiring choice of not having Firebenders only be able to manipulate existing fire as opposed to actually creating it but why would being able to create fire make them a threatening force? The movie makes an incredible choice by fully showing the Fire Lord, the show’s most iconic villain not seen but built up villain until the final season, and making him look like a run-of-the-mill ruler. There are so many changes made that aren’t necessary but people just don’t understand just how much the movie wants to make the show better.
But of course every story in a movie needs great actors and performances to back it up. And how can any fan of the show not be amazed at Shayamalan’s genius direction in bringing the talents of the actors in this movie and making them fail to amaze any fan of the show as there is little to no resemblance to their TV show counterparts in look and personality as Shayamalan’s genius direction in portraying these characters gives them no chemistry, character development, or even emotion out of the actors? Rathbone’s performance as Sokka stands out brilliantly as in the movie’s attempt to be more adult and mature he shows no emotion towards his sister or even the northern water princess. The movie sucks you in deep as the actors continuously deliver their dialogue without a hint of conviction and passion.
Then of course there’s the element bending which so many will look forward to seeing brought to life. It is impossible to not marvel at how six Earthbenders are capable of showcasing their amazing potential when they rise up against the Fire Nation members by raising a small rock together and throwing it at one of them.
This movie easily ranks as the most expensive Nickelodeon movie and the effects really show off in showcasing the manipulation of fire and water in ways that in no way that conveys any sense of emotion nor do they attempt to make it in any way look realistic.
Avatar the Last Airbender the TV show has so much heart in its characters, humor, storytelling, and overall emotion but why on Earth would you want to watch that when you have this movie that does none of those things? With it making no attempt to represent the show and giving its own hollow spin this is easily one of the greatest adaptations of a TV show you can get. I’d say go watch the show but seeing the movie will open your eyes to aspects that the show never will.