Thursday, August 19, 2010
The Last Air Bender - what went wrong?
This was one of my most anticipated movies for this year but the results turned out to be more of a disappointment. Friends and movie reviewers mostly give bad comments and all blames fall on the Director M. Night Shyamalan.
I’ve watched the original, critically acclaimed animation series which this movie is adapted from and I find it very interesting.
The first thing I notice about this movie is that this is the first time I’ve see an American made animation that doesn’t have a single Caucasian character! The characters and background are heavily Asian influenced, thus providing the audience a breath of fresh air. The main attraction is of course its fantastic storyline, a variety of characters, its attention to detail in describing each tribe difference and furthermore the moral lesson and entertainment provided.
Overall, the animation is a huge success. So bringing a successful franchise to the big screen just seems very logical and it is what we would expect from Hollywood.
Actually the animation was called “Avatar: The Last Air Bender”. Due to the fact that they didn’t want this movie to be confused with James Cameroon’s six foot tall blue skin alien, they took out the word “Avatar” . Ok… by doing so doesn’t hurt anything.
Now, the question is “what went wrong?”
When the assembled cast was revealed, many fans of the series complained that the directors are not using Asian actors to play the role (except for Dev Patel who plays Prince Zuko). But in my opinion, this is nothing to complain about because Hollywood still couldn’t manage to take this big leap of faith in casting a non Caucasian as a lead.
I was thinking…Nevermind…as long as the acting is good and appearance are not too different, I can still accept it.
Then came the trailer, it was so awesome especially the CGI fight scene. The director previously has minimal CGI experience, so when I see the trailer can be this good, I started to have confidence that this will be a good movie after all.
Then came the screening time, I was surprised that it didn’t reach the number one spot on the box office. Then I began to read more and more negative comments about the film. I began to get more worried but still I wanted to watch it with my own eyes.
Without putting too much expectation because of the many negative comments, I watched the movie.
I then realized most the negative comment is true>_<
The movie was too packed. Imagine squeezing a 10plus episode (each episode is around 20minit) into a 1 hour 45 minutes movie. It’s like a summary of many episode in which new audience will find it hard to catch up as the linkage between different events is not solid enough. The limited time also makes lesser time to develop character depth. In the movie, you see the actors do this and that, but you couldn’t feel why they are doing it and you certainly couldn’t feel the impact of their actions.
I think at least should allocate 2 hour 30 minute, in which more time is given for character development. But then, maybe the budget is not enough. Maybe the CGI cost too much.
But I do have some good comments. The CGI is perfect as it is very real and believable. All major 4 element water fire earth wind techniques looks good on screen.
The backdrop, costume is also nicely done. The director did a good job to transform the animated world into the big screen which is not too different from the animation.
There are only two funny moments, whereby Kitara accidentally freezed Sokka and whereby Aang tries to hide behind Zuko. It should have more! The animation is originally a kid’s movie so they should have plenty of laughter. If there is more laughter, it will surely make up for it. They are just too much seriousness and monotone feeling in this movie. Even kids find it not fun to watch as they said that “It is not the same at all!”
The movie was planned to be the first episode of a trilogy. If they do make a second movie, I hope the director would improve on it and do a better job next time.
Oh ya…I do have the original animation full set so if you’re interested you can get from me:)
This is Houg signing off in search for another good movie to watch.