Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Review: The Last Airbender

Grade: B+

In a world, there are four nations, each created around the four elements: Earth, Water, Wind and Fire. In each nation, there are people called benders, who can control their element. There is one person, known as the Avatar, who can control all four elements. All of the nations lived in peace until the Fire Nation started a war campaign to control all other nations. When this war started, the Avatar mysteriously disappeared. 100 years later, two siblings from the southern Water Nation, Katara and Sokka, stumble upon a boy trapped in ice. They quickly learn that this boy, Aang, is the Avatar, but he unfortunately only knows how to bend air. As the three travel to the northern Water Nation where Aang can train to be a Waterbender, the Fire Nation learns of his existence and begin to track him down to capture him. Along the way, Aang starts a series of rebellions against the Fire Nation in small towns in other nations.

This movie was written and directed by M. Night Shamalan (Lady in the Water, The Sixth Sense) and is the first really enjoyable movie he has done in a while. I think the reasoning for this is that it is not his idea, it’s based on an anime TV show. I have only seen a couple episodes of Avatar: The Last Airbender, so I don’t know how accurate of a representation the movie is, but I thought it was great compared to the little I’ve seen. The movie is just a lot of fun with a pretty interesting story behind it. The effects are great and action scenes are a lot of fun to watch. There was a nice bit of humor thrown into the movie as well. I really enjoyed the characters and he takes the time to let you get to know them.

Newcomer Noah Ringer plays the central role of Aang, the last Airbender who discovers he is the Avatar. Aang did a pretty good job with this role and he handled the martial arts sequences very well but he is the one person in this movie whom I feel could have been cast a little better. Relative newcomer Nicola Peltz played Katara, a young girl still learning to become a Waterbender. Peltz did a fantastic job with this role, I really enjoyed her performance. Jackson Rathbone (The Twilight Saga) plays Sokka, Katara’s older brother. Dev Patel (Slumdog Millionaire) plays Prince Zuko, son of the Fire Lord, who is determined to find and capture the Avatar in order to regain his father’s respect. Patel did a decent job with this role, which included a lot of pouting and angry yelling. Aasif Mandvi (Ghost Town, TVs The Daily Show) surprisingly plays Commander Zhao, who hates Prince Zuko and is trying to capture the Avatar first. I say surprisingly because he has only done comedy so to see him take on a serious role was interesting, but he really pulled it off and did a great job. The movie also includes Cliff Curtis, Shaun Toub, Seychelle Gabriel, Francis Guinan and Summer Bishil.

Ok, so there has apparently been a lot of controversy around this movie because of the casting and people are calling Shamalan racist. People are upset that some of the main characters are white and that it seems all of the people in the Fire Nation, depicted as the bad guys, are Indian. This makes me laugh because Shamalan is Indian himself, so I’m pretty sure he is not bashing his own race. To me, the casting makes sense. The Fire Nation is Indian, the Earth Nation is mostly Chinese, the Water nation appears to be mostly white, maybe somewhat Eskimo and the Air Nation (which you only see in flashbacks) appears to be monks of some sort. To me, the casting makes sense in a way. Each nation is a different race, much like all the different nations in the real world.

If you are a fan of the show, go see this movie. Even if you aren’t, I really think this movie is worth checking out. It is just plain fun and entertaining.

Great quote: “Prince Zuko is not allowed to wear the Fire Nation’s uniform, but on this occasion, we will allow it, like a child wearing a costume.”

No comments:

Post a Comment