Everett and I have been watching the first season of “Avatar: The Last Airbender,” the show on which the movie is based, on Netflix Streaming. Wow, if I had seen it before watching the movie I would have hated it even more. The TV show is great for children and offers a lot to adults despite some cheesy dialogue and sitcom-like conflict resolution.
Shyamalan sacrificed the comedy and fun of the series for dark moodiness, more in line with his bad horror movies. Fans of the series must have been disappointed to pay money to see the story nicely balanced between comedy and drama they loved reduced to moody ambiance and uninspired special effects.
Shyamalan also omitted any depth from the characters. I mentioned in my review that there was no conflict between Aang’s nature as a boy and his responsibility as an Avatar. The TV series explores this much better. Aang is a little boy who loves to laugh, play, and show off. In the movie he’s somber and focused, with little indication that there is any hesitation about what he has to do.
I think the movie could have been at least 30 minutes longer. That way Shyamalan could have, if he had had the patience or inclination, fleshed out Aang’s character better, not to mention the characters of Katana, Sokka, and Prince Zuko.
Despite all the horrible reviews, people just keep going to see it. It has had a pretty good second weekend. (Dave, you may be right, it will make its money back.) Maybe it’s being propelled ahead because of the bad reviews. I mean that was the only reason I went to see it. Maybe I inadvertently contributed to helping Shyamalan succeed? I will feel personally responsible if Paramount allows Shyamalan to make another of these movies. God I feel guilty.