Friday, July 02, 2010

The Last Airbender

My column yesterday, Looking forward to movie going with family, detailed our love of movies, especially the great summer ones. As a family, we were very much anticipating the opening of The Last Airbender yesterday. We've watched the entire Avatar series on Nickelodeon, on which it is based, and love, love, love it.

My excitement was somewhat mitigated yesterday when the reviews started coming in. Our very own Beifuss slammed it. "The story is so meanderingly pointless and the characters such emotionless cardboard constructions that a hyperkinetic Michael Bay sensation-fest like 'Transformers' seems like a work of populist genius by comparison," he wrote in his review yesterday.

After reading that, I didn't have the heart to read any other reviews, although my friends on Facebook made sure that I knew they were out there! I resolved to stay excited and not let it get me down. (I did however decide to trade in our 3D tickets for 2D. I hate 3D. Jiro does too.) When I got home from work, the kids were chomping at the bit. "Is it time to go? How much longer? Why do we have to eat dinner first?" and so on.

Even once we were in the theater, Jiro was still chomping through the commercials and the trailers. "Is it going to start now? Is this the movie? The movie is next, right?"

In fact, just a few minutes into the movie he was asking me when the second movie was going to come out! "Can we buy the movie when it comes out? Can we get it on Netflix? Can we get all of the movies? When will the next one come out? next week?"

The kids loved it and I loved seeing them so excited. However, I have to say that it was a huge disappointment. I know that when movies made from books come out, many people feel let down regardless of how good the movie is. I think taking a 13+ hour animated series and boiling it down to 103 minutes was maybe a bit too ambitious.

Why not take a page from Peter Jackson and make it 3 hours long? There was no time for character development, no build up of drama, no nothing. Well there were plenty of special effects, but it's the STORY and the CHARACTERS that make Avatar so awesome. All of the fun and humor from the series is gone, and the actors were really robotic. Especially the dude playing Sokka.

When the movie was over, we of course went home and watched some episodes on TV. (They are running them non-stop due to the movie's opening.) They never get old. In fact, they just get better the more you watch them!

I do hope that the movie does well enough to merit finishing the trilogy. I'm going to remain optimistic that the actors will grow into their roles and that the story will get more exciting as we go along.

Who knows, maybe they'll hire a new director!

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