The Last Airbender - Not quite the movie I expected to see

On Sunday for some family fun we took the Oscar and Benji to see The Last Airbender. The movie is based on the first season of the Nickelodeon cartoon Avatar The Last Airbender, which we LOVE. My husband and I both think that this cartoon is one of the most well thought out and possibly the best cartoon drama that we have ever seen. We always thought that it would make a fantastic movie, or set of movies because the storylines are so awesome that they deserve the time it takes to explain the depth that the story goes into.

Okay, I absolutely adore the cartoon and I was really sad to see it end, which is one reason that I looked forward to seeing this movie so much. I was excited to see how the movie would come together and which actors would be playing my favorite characters.

Boy was I disappointed. The movie didn't give the cartoon justice. At. All.

Here's what really bugged me right off the bat. The names were all pronounced incorrectly in the movie as compared to the cartoon. You know you expect that when you read a book and then see the movie that maybe when you read it you imagined the name to be pronounced differently, but not a cartoon! Everything was still spelled the same in the movie they just felt for some reason to say it differently. For example the main character Aang (ang) is pronounced Ung and Sokka (sock-a) is pronounced So-ka. It was really annoying and hard to get over.

The first season of the cartoon shares when Kitara and Sokka discover Aang and his flying Bison in the ice. Aang is upbeat and fun and tries to play with Kitara right away, because after all he is 12 and has no idea how rare an airbender sighting is. Kitara and Sokka are shocked to learn the Aang is an airbender, previously believed to be extinct, wiped out by Fire Nation. Kitara soon realizes that Aang must be the Avatar and was trapped in the ice for 100 years because he has no knowledge of the century old war that has plagued the world in his absence.

The first sequence of the movie starts out similarly but doesn't do the cartoon justice at all. In the movie they Aang is not as fun and carefree as he is in the cartoon, he is very depressed. In the movie its their grandmother that convinces Kitara and Sokka to go be with Aang, when in actuality it is Kitara's idea. Also in the movie Aang is told by Zukko, his enemy, not Kitar that he has been gone for 100 years. It seems like the movie flips Aang's and Kitara's points of view and comments on several occasions, which is also pretty annoying.

The thing that really, really annoyed me the most is that the cast of characters doesn't really resemble the cartoon cast. Sokka looks the closest and then Kitara. Aang looks okay too, but not what I would expect. What really threw me off was how all of the Fire Nation characters looked, they were all Indian actors instead of chinese or at the very least asian. Below are some examples:

The second picture comparison is Zukko, the banished Fire Nation prince. He is definitely asian, not Indian. The scar should be way more noticeable than what they did on this actor. Look at the first image that I have up above, it shows Prince Zukko's long hair in a ponytail surrounded by a shaved head. Which is how he should look in the first season. The picture comparison up above is from much later in the series when Zukko goes into hiding and cuts his ponytail off and then grows out his hair in a short cut to mix in with the other villagers.

Overall, it felt like the people that made this movie were not fans of the cartoon series, if they even saw it at all! The movie didn't depict the key scenes from the first season accurately if at all. Definitely a disappointment and not worth the $50 we paid to take our family to the movies. I still plan on seeing the next installment but I think we'll wait for DVD to come out instead of wasting our money at the theaters.

If haven't yet seen the cartoon series I highly recommend it. You can buy Book One at Amazon for only $23.

As for the movie, definitely wait until it comes out on DVD, and even then only rent it.



Cindy said…
My sister and her husband walked out of the movie. They said the same thing you did: It's like they didn't even watch the series. Sad, that they'd do this to such a good story.
I am bummed. We haven't seen it yet, but I am going to be annoyed at all the things that they have done wrong. We absolutely love the cartoon and have been so excited since they announced that they were making it into a movie. We will still go and see it, but I know my son is going to be upset that they can not even pronounce the names right.
blueviolet said…
I guess I'll skip this one then. Sorry you blew $50!
The Blue Zoo said…
Aw, man. I am SO bummed now. I was really looking forward to this movie!!
Alicia said…
Oh my gosh!! I let my daughter read this because she was thinking THE EXACT SAME THING. She hasn't watched the movie yet, and it's for the reasons you mentioned. She is totally not going to watch it now.

LOL, we have an Indian friend, and she said it was like watching him play Jet Li...hahaha.