How ‘The Last Airbender’ ruined my childhood

The live-action movie based on the beloved animated series lacks its rhythm, characters, realism, diversity and magic

So much of what made the animated series work is lost in the translation to live action movie. Image accessed on the San Watanabe Flickr account. Reposted here under a Creative Commons license.

San Watanabe

So much of what made the animated series work is lost in the translation to live action movie. Image accessed on the San Watanabe Flickr account. Reposted here under a Creative Commons license.

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Josie Bradsby, staff reporter

As quarantine continues, the need for entertainment grows as well. Personally, this resulted in the re-watching of many things, one of which was The Last Airbender. This movie is a live action remake of a beloved childhood show, Avatar the Last Airbender, and is a perfect example of how NOT to recreate an animated show.

‘The Last Airbender’ is somehow too long, while not covering anything of substance.”

The concept of this movie is extremely ambitious as it required fitting 54 episodes, in total around 1,451 minutes into a 104-minute movie. The writers clearly did not manage this well as seen in the timing of the movie. It is somehow too long, while not covering anything of substance.

If I had not watched the original show, I would have no clue on what is happening in the movie. The rhythm of this film, if you can even call it that, was constantly disrupted by drawn-out fight scenes and dialogues, which lacked any charisma or interest. The details and characters that they left out were insulting to me.

Toph and Suki, both major characters, were excluded from this movie, as were scenes depicting key events in the show. Water bending and the visiting to the fire nation were excluded, which was odd. The earth benders being relocated to a village was inaccurate to the show and confused me. In both the movie adaptation and the original show, Aang, the protagonist, is discovered to be the Avatar. There is, however, a large discrepancy between the events of the show and the depiction in the movie. This added confusion to the storyline and was unnecessary. The writing for this movie, as well as the timing is simply horrible.

I wish I could get back the 104 minutes I spent watching this movie, for both my mental well-being and for the time I would have saved.”

There is also the magical aspect of bending, a key element in the show, which is difficult to do right in a live action movie without it being unrealistic or cringey. While in the show, the animations of bending, and the exploration of these different elements is beautifully crafted, in The Last Airbender, the visuals are almost comical, disregarding the elegant nature evident in the show. It makes a mockery of the martial arts upon which the bendings/bending styles are based. It hurt to watch and was pretty boring as well. The fight scenes scream pre-choreographed and are awkward and confusing. Unlike in the Avatar the Last Airbender series, there was a lack of build-up, leading to anticlimactic fights that were meaningless. It also failed at transporting me into the fantasy world of Avatar, leading me to wonder what and why I was watching.

One more serious issue I had with The Last Airbender was the casting. It was extremely white-washed, and took away from the cultural elements of Avatar the Last Airbender. In the show, many tribes and indigenous people are portrayed. In the movie, they turned these characters white. This was and is upsetting. I have to question why they did this. It would have been a perfect opportunity to include a more diverse cast, but instead we, as the audience, received white people doing weirdly staged moves and horrible graphics that completely obstructed the flow of the movie.

In conclusion, (please) don’t waste your time watching this movie. It is a horrendous and misguided attempt to capture the artistic vision that is Avatar the Last Airbender. I wish I could get back the 104 minutes I spent watching this movie, for both my mental well-being and for the time I would have saved. As we all know, time is non refundable, so just watch the show, or do absolutely anything else, instead of ruining your day with this insulting movie.