Erin, Matt, Kurt, and I went to go see M. Night Shyamalan’s “Avatar: The Last Airbender” last night, and I can say that I feel like I’ve been ripped off. I want my money and my evening back.
- General Iroh was cool.
- Momo and Appa’s CGI were very pretty and lifelike.
- The CGI and martial arts associated with bending were, on the whole, pretty cool looking.
- The writing was on par with some of the papers Christa reviewed during her Science Fiction Writing Workshop class. Shyamalan was apparently the main screenwriter, and he repeatedly violates the “Show, Don’t Tell” policy. Most of the characters’ lines are monologues explaining what they are doing, rather than letting the characters’ dialogue and actions explain what they’re doing. Thus, the characters end up feeling wooden and distant to the film because really, the actors are just reading text off a script with a little bit of inflection.
- Did I mention the writing was terrible? The dialogue that does exist is depressing and focused on defeating the evil Fire Nation. Where’s the childish delight in life? The penguin sledding? The joy of these 12-year-olds that comes from feeding Appa berries that make his tongue blue? They might as well be on the final stretch of a triathlon through Mordor.
- The screenplay had very poor pacing. Characters zip in and out of the plot like it’s a roller derby. Take the Princess Yue/Sokka story, for example. My interpretation of Shyamalan’s script (which allocated 5 minutes for this story) goes like this:
- At numerous points throughout the plot, the characters are introduced to a new feature of the Avatar universe. Except they already know about these things because some person (probably their mother or their father) has already told them. You’re from the south pole – you shouldn’t know about jungle things! Grrr, lazy writers. Have I mentioned that I hate the script yet?
- The actors can’t pronounce Aang or Sokka “correctly”. They say “Ah-ngn” and “So-kuh” instead of “Ang” and “Saw-kuh”. I’m willing to ignore this, but it bothered Erin and quite a few of the people in the row behind us.
- The 3D isn’t worth it. It barely adds anything to the movie, other than being annoyed when you remove the glasses and the screen is blurry.
Yue: “Hi, my name is Princess Yue, Sokka is hawt, oh I have to go die for the moon spirit now.”
Sokka: “<Vader> I LOVE YOU! Noooooooooooooooooo! </Vader>”
- Go watch the Animated Series again. You’ll thank yourself and save money.
- I was disappointed because I felt M. Night Shyamalan took brilliant source material and squandered its power by reducing character dialog to little more than narrative sidebars, reducing character actions to little more than “wraagh I have bending powers”, and not capturing the joy of friendship between Aang, Sokka, and Kitara.