Friday, November 13, 2020

Avatar: The Last Airbender


While critics and fans largely regard M. Night Shyamalan’s The Last Airbender to be a cinematic turkey (though I would rather watch it as opposed to say, a political documentary), the Nickelodeon cartoon on which it’s based is much, much better by comparison. It begins with two siblings from the Southern Water Tribe encountering the eponymous last airbender, Aang, frozen in ice for a century along with his air bison, the antagonistic Fire Nation seeking to conquer the world around the time of his disappearance. The Avatar must learn to master all four elements: water, earth, fire, and air, in order to stand a chance at defeating the Fire Lord.

The characters are for the most part well-developed and memorable, such as the deadpan-snarking Sokka, although the rogue Prince Zuko of the Fire Nation is probably my favorite character, given his enjoyable plot arc along with his uncle. Luckily, unlike the film, the show doesn’t attempt to cram a season’s worth of events into one and a half hours, and there’s plenty of cool elemental action throughout the series. The setting is mostly Asian-based, with much advanced military technology, and it very well emulates the style of anime and has definitely aged well. If the live-action Netflix remake series escapes development hell, I would definitely watch it.

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