Let’s Fix It! – That Airbenders Movie
People who survive car crashes sometimes talk about how everything slows down before the moment of impact. The last year of build-up for Shaymaladingdong’s The Last Airbender was like an oncoming disaster. Everything looked like it was going to hurt when it finally happened. (That fact about remembering a car crash might have been made up in order for my analogy to work).
Airbender is bad. I’d-rather-watch-The-Happening bad. But being a mature adult, I’m a fan of the Nickelodeon cartoon. Let’s take at what went wrong and play Amateur Movie Producer.
Looking back on this commercial now, Shyamalan is less a creative imaginary and more a man who doesn’t understand social signals or how to interact with people.
Shyamalan’s success isn’t a fluke. The man has some abilities. Unbreakable was a unique take on doing a superhero movie and it’s better than most of the early blockbuster DC/Marvel films, Signs had some great scares, and The Village is a pretty fun idea for a story if you didn’t guess the twist early on (Apparently I was the only one). His strength was also a good sense of timing in suspense and wanting to try fun stories. I know Lady in the Water is crazy mess, but at least the dude is trying something. That puts him at least above the Smurfs movie.
At some point his work reflected that he thought he was above critics and the viewer and his work had undeserved importance.
This scene could’ve been really interesting; a character self-aware of movie clichés. But instead it’s a commentary by M. Night that “The Man” is just keeping his free love art down, baby.
The Source Material
The cartoon was a smash-hit for Nickelodeon, a combination of West and Eastern animation that could only come from its creators growing up with too much television. But Aibenderz The Movie tries to pull a story from the entire first season. That’s 20 episodes of character building and narrative. Hard to fit into one movie. You’d need at least ten films to convey what made it work as a series…like a DECAtology.
NO WAIT, Mr Night! I didn’t mean it! Three is enough!
The Collection of Moving Images That Was Billed As A Movie
Let’s just throw in a few quick fixes.
1) Instead of an unexplained Ghost Dragon story, Awngh’s inability to focus and bend water to help his friends is tied to guilt about deserting the world 100 years ago. This removes the need to retell the story of him freezing himself five times throughout the film (and not showing it because film isn’t a visual medium). It’s a good source of drama in the cartoon, and keeps Aang from always going into the Avatar state and kicking ass. Why not use it here?
[Note: I would’ve inserted an example from Youtube, but it is impossible to find an Avatar video without it being editing together with a Linkin Park or Three Days Grace song]
2) We get to see the Earth people for a moment, but an entire village of Earthbenders are being kept prisoner in a mountain ravine surrounded by dirt and rocks? Must be special non-bendingrocks.
3) Less flailing your arms around when bending. There are moments in the film where characters start waving around their arms before any element manipulation occurs. Instead of appearing to be manipulating things around them, bending looks like you’re putting in a magical dance code.
4) This scene is taken out.
5) Remove the Blue Spirit scene as well. That’s a one-off episode from the cartoon that at most help shows Zuko’s intense desire to capture The Ahvahtar (how it’s said in the film) himself; it’s like 1/3 of the movie.
6) Narration cannot be your only method to convey the story. If Airbender is a story you’re telling your kids around the campfire, sure. But sequences of this film, when we really need to be learning how this whole world works, are just series of cuts as Katara narrates what we see on the screen. Remember Trapped In The Closet? Where R. Kelly sings for two hours about exactly what we’re watching?
or this Men at Work video?
If I learned one thing in my telecommunication classes it’s that you should always go for style over substance. After that, it’s show, don’t tell. If you’re working on a film, for the love of all that is tasty use the strength of visuals instead of monologues.
6) Just say the words right. You’re adapting a series. Why take creative liberties with the names and nothing else? Night plays pretty straightforward to the original plot, he just doesn’t tell it well. Instead we get the impression no one had any idea what was going on during production.
Please don’t go nerd on me and tell me the proper [Sanskrit] pronunciation of “Avatar”. The cartoon and popular usage is AV-AH-TAR. Did no one on set hear of this movie?
Were they afraid James Cameron’s Black Night Jets would swoop down on the set if someone used his movie’s title without paying him first?
7) Give the “love story” more than 5 lines of dialogue and just pretty people looking at each other.
8 ) While used as a cap to the season, might not be the best idea to go ahead and cast Azula in this film considering you have no idea when you’re making the second movie. Just in case, oh I don’t know, the movie is critically panned and you’re fired.
– Chad Quandt is Noticing Southern Water Temple Monk Looks Like He’s From Detroit Editor of Nonstop Karate