The Last Airbender’s New Avatar


The Last Airbender still sounds weird. But because there already is an Avatar hanging around the box-office, I guess the studio’s perspicaciousness in desexing the title to “The Last Airbender” makes sense (change it, but not enough to alienate people familiar with the franchise). The Last Airbender is written and directed by M. Night Shyamalan.

The last time I saw something by the director, I ended up disappointed (even hating) the guy. “The Happening” was menial. It was the first major disappointment for a guy who is one of the few to actually create a modern fairy tale (The Lady in the Water).

With “The Happening” still fresh in memory (brrr…I shudder to think how a good concept turned 180 with bland storytelling), I grew more skeptic of his writing/directing prowess when I learned that he’s up as the director of “The Last Airbender”, the big-screen remake of Avatar: The Last Airbender, one of the finest American animated series since Batman: The Animated Series.

I guess one bad film does that to you. You end up forgetting every decent thing a guy has done in the past and brand him incompetent because of that one last egg he’s laid.

But I still hadn’t seen the movie’s teaser trailer (just news about the casting and the teaser poster). When it came out The Last Airbender’s teaser did its job. A teaser has to be just that: tease the audience and leave them hanging for more. It had a mandatory narration that introduced the character, showed off some fancy moves, two/three special effects and an energetic camera move that revealed upcoming doom. Good, decent, formulaic stuff that works wonders.

The new trailer. Now that’s something to talk about. Fast paced with ideally timed transitions (keep an eye out for the part between the warring, flame-throwing battleships and the firey-transition to the Water tribe standing in despair).

The scenes about Aang’s discovery, his diving off with his glider and some cool water bending reveals that “The Last Airbender” adapts the first season of the series, The Book of Water.

Avatar: The Last Airbender is sprawled over three books, each dealing with a singular element. Water, Earth and Fire (there are no seasons about Air because Aang, the bald arrow-tatooed title character, is the LAST AIRBENDER).

The Super Bowl Spot is snazzily cut, with a few blink-and-you’ll-miss-them cuts (Aang’s back as he water bends), some over-cranks (slow motions) here, a few under-cranks (sped up actions) there. Both trailers sport eye-catching action sequences and play like the best-of compilation of the series.

Regardless of all this visual wizardry tailored to sell me the movie, I still have few qualms about this movie.

My biggest pip is about shifting the movies geography. The Fire tribe, which were from Japan are now from India (if there is a Japan and India in this universe). But I guess, since the creators (Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko) are good with M.Night’s decisions I guess I don’t have much to worry about. Or do I?!?

“The Last Airbender” comes out 2nd July and stars: Noah Ringer, Nicola Peltz, Jackson Rathbone, and Dev Patel amongst others.

The film will be rated PG-13 for big-scale special effects that are getting easier to do each passing day.


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