marrow_sky: (devoted to the letters|stf)
[personal profile] marrow_sky
It's a bit late for it now, but I thought I would drop in my complete two cents on the Airbender movie, which was... bad. Really bad. Really, really, reallllyyyyyy baaaaadddddddddd. Race fail aside, this film was horrendously awful, like, I don't even know how to explain to you how bad this film was, other than to let out a scream of agonised pain that would make unicorns from two star systems away begin to weep.

This film was that bad. I can't even say it's the worst film I've ever watched, because there were parts I did like, but I can safely say this is the worst adaptation of anything ever, barring maybe a few Uwe Boll movies.

THIS MOVIE WAS TERRIBLE. I concluded that I actually hated this movie more than Twilight because, hey, at least I knew that Twilight was always going to be terrible. There was nothing good to take out of Twilight. Whatever poor sod that adapted it for the screen or radio (that would be interesting. Would Edward make shimmering noises?) would make a terrible movie. Even if it had Stanley shitting Kubrick attached to it as director and John Williams as the composer, Twilight was always going to be bad. At least not without a massive rewrite where Edward rips Bella's throat out and devours her at the end. Which Kubrick might've been open to.

Still, my point is, the book wasn't good, so it wasn't as if any of us were expecting the movie to be any better.

But this movie. This movie. Avatar: The Last Airbender is a good show. It's a great show. It's for children, but it's very aware of the fact that just because it's for children, doesn't mean you have to treat children like they're mentally retarded, a fact that so far, the writers for Steven Moffat's Who have not been understanding. (I don't care if Doctor Who a children's show, I DON'T LOSE MONOPOLY BECAUSE I SWALLOW THE FUCKING THIMBLE, SO STOP TREATING ME LIKE I'M THREE YEARS OLD. GODDAMNIT.) The characters are nicely rounded, the plot is very well thought out, and the relationships through the seasons develop as well as a television show ever could. Very, very well.

I'm not saying it's perfect, but I'm saying it's a very good show and that I liked it a lot for a reason. The action was fast paced, it was funny, it was serious, and despite the fantasy setting, it could be harshly realistic. It was thoroughly researched, and for anyone who knows the basics of East Asian history, there are some obvious parallels between it and the events that occur in the show.

They took that and made it into this movie.

AAAAAAaaauuuggggghhfffflgggrrrhhh. /gargle

It starts off a lot like it does in the actual show, with the four different benders showing off their talents against a red background with their Chinese character. And by God, just immediately, it's awful. I'm serious - I couldn't find much wrong with the special effects, I couldn't, I was watching a cam version - but even with the cam, I could see that the CGI was awful. You know how at the end of the "Ember Island Players", Sokka jokes about how at least the special effects were good?

Yeeeeaaaaaah. Doesn't apply to this movie.

Anyway, Katara does her voice over, about how her Grandmother used to tell her stories about peace and how there are benders for all four elements and that they are all considered very powerful. Actually I don't know if she said her Grandmother told her about peace. One thing I noticed very early on into this movie is that everything that doesn't need exposition is repeated ad nauseum and everything that does need exposition isn't given two words. We're told that the Avatar, or... as they pronounce it... "Ah-vatar", is the only one that can bend all four elements, but we're not told really why he's so powerful, why he's so needed. But continuing on, the real annoying nitpick I had with Katara's beginning voice over was this line:

"The Four Nations: Water, Earth, Fire, and the Air Nomads."


Okay. What? The Air Nomads are a nation? It's not the Water Nation either, it's the Water Tribe, and for what re- THEY'RE TRIBES! THEY'RE CALLED THE WATER TRIBES BECAUSE THEY'RE TRIBES. THEY'RE NOT NATIONS! NOT EVEN TEN MINUTES INTO THIS GODDAMN MOVIE AND YOUR GODDAMN EXPOSITION SUCKS DICK. You could have just said, "The Four Nations: Water, Earth, Fire, and Air." and I would have been okay, because it's shorter and I understand, it's a movie, you have things to get to. And I'm pretty sure the show does it too. But don't suddenly throw "and the Air Nomads" in there, IT'S INCONSISTENT. Grammar not you good dumb shit!

So Katara continues to talk about her brief history, which is fine, I guess. It's bad exposition (even without the whole Four Nations thing and the fact that they completely missed how important the Avatar, or Ah-vatar, is supposed to be) but you know what, fine. I don't care. I wasn't watching the movie to hear her talk, so if she wants to talk bullshit, whatever. She talks about how her mother died, in the most dull, emotionless tone you ever heard anyone say "my mother was killed when I was young" without unearthing some serious mommy issues, and we cut to the Arctic tundra where Sokka and Katara are out hunting for their village. I don't even remember if Katara mentions the fact that most of the older men have gone off for war and that's why Sokka is the only one over ten years old in the village, but I'm going to assume no, because that is what this movie does with needed explanation.

So we meet our first characters of this movie, Sokka and Katara. Or rather, "Soak-ka" and Katara. Sokka, or Soak-ka, is neither loving, goofy, nor very endearing to the audience, because-...

Jackson Rathbone must be a very special person. I'm sure he's a nice guy, I'm even sure if he actually tried, he could probably act. But so far, having seen him in Twilight and The Last Airbender... there's nothing there. He is the most... stone walled, emotionless, dull brute I've seen lumbering about on a screen and by God, I wanted to cry. Who is your agent, Jackson Rathbone?!? Did you hire your worst enemy for this job? Even bricks have a more emotional range than you in this movie, and the emotion range of bricks varies from "being on the ground" and "being thrown at someone's face". I want to throw a brick at your face.

Katara is worse, because I suppose as a girl, I am biased, but I really want to see strong girls in movies and Katara is about as equally dull and emotionless as her brother and I loathed her. Every time I saw her fucking face on the screen, looking rosy cheeked and like she was going to cry I thought I was going to rip a chunk out of the Yellow Pages with my teeth. She is not the headstrong, slightly short-tempered, reasonable person you're all familiar with in this movie, who is enough of a powerful bender to accidentally break an iceberg in twain at her exasperation at Sokka. In fact, for the majority of this movie, Katara does almost damn nothing. She barely even tries to waterbend, and she's a terrible water bender. Even when Katara had no formal training in the show, she taught herself enough to stand against Pakku for a very long time - in the movie she doesn't show anything until she gets the Water Scroll, and even then, we barely see her doing anything with her bending at all. She's pathetic, weak, and if she annoyed you in the show, you will absolutely loathe everything about her here.

So in the movie, since Katara's job is to do fuck all, it is Sokka's crappy hunting skills that leads them right out into the middle of nowhere, when suddenly the ice under them begins to glow brightly. Sokka, being the bright little cookie that he is, decides it would be the smartest idea ever to start chipping at the ice RIGHT UNDER HIS FEET. The sad part is is that this isn't even the stupidest thing in this movie.I don't know, maybe they were giving another explanation why Sokka couldn't be taken with the other men for war. He probably would have taken apart their boats for firewood. While on the boat. But continuing on, since Katara needs the honour of releasing the Avatar/Ah-vatar herself, when the giant globe comes up, she runs straight at it and stabs it with Sokka's weapon, releasing a giant gust of air and a burst of energy that penetrates the sky.

MEANWHILE, SOMEWHERE


[A shaft of light stretches to the sky at the far right of the screen, where it is so obviously not the centre of attention.]

UNKNOWN VOICE OF PRINCE ZUKO: Uncle, look!

[The UNKNOWN VOICE doesn't even deign to point at it because he is a dumbass.]

[The scene passes with half the audience wondering what the hell UNKNOWN VOICE was looking at.]

M. NIGHT SHYAMALAN: YES! I AM THE BEST DIRECTOR EVER!

BACK WITH DUMB MCSHIT AND WEEPY O'WEEPERSON...


Even the comedy in this movie falls flat. I suppose I could have stumbled out of this movie into the bleary light of a world full of movies better than this with my soul still intact, if a bit mangled if this movie was good at something, but even the funny bits were terrible. And this particular joke - in fact, all of the jokes, since they usually involve Sokka, is all Jackson Rathbone's fault. Or the directing. Something with his face. And voice. And everything. It would have been funny, I am perfectly willing to admit this. It would have been funny. But it wasn't.

The bit was supposed to be that Sokka, being the nervous little person he is, pokes at Appa curiously, wondering what it is. Appa, grumpy, takes his tail and flumps it down on Sokka, who collapses under the weight and, not understanding that it's just the tail, cries out "Help! It's eating me. IT'S EATING ME!"

In the movie theatre, this would prompt a few laughs, I'm actually pretty sure of it. But Jacksone Rathbone's totally emotionless delivery of the line killed it. Like, I literally felt like I knew this joke personally, that maybe I grew up with it, used to play tag with it, fed it scraps under the table, and Jackson Rathbone came along and stabbed it in the throat and I had to watch as it bled to death, gasping for air and gurgling on blood. Nothing was the same from that moment - it was that painful. I cringed. I cried. I wore black under a black umbrella as the weather mimicked my mood. I never felt the death of a joke cut me so deeply.

I'm not even fifteen minutes in the movie, I think. Oh God. I know you can't see my face, but I'm actually pretty close to tears because there's still so much I have to get to.

/whimper. I hate this movie. BUT I HAVE SO MUCH ANGER TO TALK ABOUT.

/deep breath.

Okay.

Back at Inuits R Us, where Sokka, Katara and their grandmother happen, surprisingly, to be the only Caucasian people around, Aang, pronounced "Ah-ng", is conveniently naked, showing off the intricate tattoos that cover his back, when Katara bursts in and goes, in a manner that strikes me as quite unnerving coming from a fourteen year old, "whoa."

Before we go on, I suppose you've been picking up on me bitching about the pronunciations in this movie and there are a lot. And I swear to God, I'm not angry at it just because it's not the same as the show, I'm angry because he does it for basically everything in this movie. Sokka = "Soak-ka". Aang = "Ah-ng". Iroh = "Ee-roh". It just. Goes. On. For most people, their annoyances stemmed from the fact that Aang's pronunciation, but for me, it was their pronunciation of 'avatar'. They pronounce it... "Ah-vatar". Which isn't that big of a deal, except almost no one in this movie is British and therefore has an excuse to pronounce it this way and it jarrs from the dialogue and makes it all strawberry flavoured and sticky.

Why.

I would like an explanation. We use the word 'avatar' in our daily lives. It's very common. We know how to pronounce it. We know how it sounds. You're not fooling me, M. Night, why did you make them pronounce it as "ah-vatar"? Are you trying to be deep? Do you think this makes it exotic? Beyond all the other names in this movie, why did you change the pronunciation of a fairly basic English word, even if it has its origins in Hindu - why did you do this M. Night? Why? Why? WHY!?!?!?! ANSWER ME, YOU PRETENTIOUS FUCKING IGNORAMUS! WHY DO YOU PRONOUNCE IT "AH-VATAR"?! WHY DID I HAVE TO SIT THROUGH A WHOLE MOVIE OF YOU PRONOUNCING THIS ONE WORD WRONG!?! IT'S NOT EVEN A NAME OR A PROPER NOUN, IT'S A GODDAMN WORD! WHY? WHY? WHYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY!?!?!?!

aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHH.

AND FOR THAT MATTER, PRONOUNCING "AGNI KAI" AS "AG-KNEE KEY" SOUNDS FUCKING RETARDED. ARE YOU FUCKING RETARDED, M. NIGHT SHYMALAN? SENSORS POINT TO DING DING DING DIN-YES.

So anyway, Dev Patel in his sexy self with his sexy scar and his sexy uniform, decides the Water Tribe is not sexy enough to he goes off to make it more sexy in his presence. Also because he wants the find the Avatar, or Ah-vatlagificklesteinar, or something. Because as Miss Exposition Sue pointed out at the beginning, the Avatar, or the Ah-va-i'malittleteapot-ar, has been missing for a hundred years, Zuko understandably is looking for someone very old. But instead of doing it like he does in the show, making it very clear his motivations and ruthlessness in his very first real scene, where he shouts "he's about this old? Master of all four elements?", Zuko just shoots some fire and demands to see the elders and one of his soldiers happens to come across Aang, the worst hidden airbender in the whole world. Zuko does his fire trick again and Aang willingly submits if he doesn't hurt the village members. And then because Dev Patel is so sexy, he tells Aang, very sexily that he is taking him back to his ship aaaaaaand it makes me feel uncomfortable.

Now, since Aang is the worst hidden airbender in the whole world, you might assume that the Water Tribe members put all their efforts into hiding Appa instead, since he is a gigantic freaking bison. Well, you might as well keep assuming, because we have no idea where the hell Appa was hidden and how the Fire Nation soldiers would somehow not notice a giant freaking six-legged bison in the generally flat desert of the Arctic tundra. But when the Fire Nation leaves, Appa just comes out and hangs with the little childre- HE'S A GIANT FREAKING BISON WHERE DID YOU HIDE HIM!?!?! DID HE JUST COVER HIS EYES AND SQUEEZE BEHIND THE IGLOOS!? DID YOU COVER IT WITH AN INDIAN THROW!? WHAT!?! EXPLAIN! EXPLLLAAAAAAAAAAIIINNNNNNNN.





*SIGH*






SO ANYWAY.

With the Fire Nation gone, inexplicably Caucasian grandma person regales Sokka and Katara with her suspicions that Aang is the Avatar, or Ah-va-whatatwist-ar.

KANNA: I think that boy might be an airbender.
KATARA: How can that be?


The writing of this movie sometimes outright stunned me with how bad it was with its exposition and storytelling. Here, they could have solved a very simple problem of getting the fact that the airbenders are extinct out of the way, explaining why Katara is so shocked by the idea that Aang might be an airbender by having the line be, "But how? The Air Nomads were wiped out almost a hundred years ago!" There! It's simple, it's clear cut, it probably would have had the dullest delivery ever with the sack of cement you call your actors, but it would have gotten a bunch of bullshit out of the way. The fact that Katara is so surprised by the notion of Aang being an airbender would be explained and the audience would know that Aang is now clearly the last of his kind. But no. This doesn't happen.

KANNA: The Spirit World is not made up of things you can touch.


...

...

/HEADDESK

/HEADDESK

/HEADDESKHEADDESKHEADDESKHEADDESKHEADDESKHEADDE-

Kanna explains that she believes that Katara and Sokka's destinies are entwined with Aang's and tell them to go save him from the extremely dangerous Fire Nation ship without even a bat of an eye. What a caring grandmother.

Back in Zuko's sexy ship, sexy Iroh gives unsexy Aang a very simple not-that-sexy test to see if he's the Avatar, or Ah-va-sexiest-ar, assuring him that if he doesn't pass the test, which he probably won't, since there has never been anyone who has, he will be let go. If you can even believe it, Aang passes all the tests, and while Iroh deems it an honour to meet him at last, Zuko immediately shouts "You are my prisoner!"

Aang is understandably miffed at this, because he was told he was going to be let go, so he storms his way through the corridors of the ship, exhibiting certain tendencies that Aang from the show didn't. Specifically, Aang's avoidance of combat. Now, if you've seen the show, you'll recall that Aang was mainly about avoidance - if he could skirt around an enemy, he would do so. This was a major character trait that came into light in the second Season especially, when he had to force himself to basically go against his instinct of finding other solutions and learn to attack problems head on. Aang in the movie, however, suffers from no such problem, and just throws all his opponents aside and runs.

With Zuko in hot (oh yeah) pursuit, Aang makes it out to the deck of the ship, where Appa groans his presence from atop a glacier with Sokka and Katara on board his saddle. Happy to see him, Aang makes ready his escape, his staff in hand. Then.

PRINCE ZUKO: Stop! You have nowhere to run!


Let us evaluate the situation. Aang is an airbender - though he has not mastered all four elements, airbending is his strong suit, and he is the very, very last of his kind and he's very good at it. Because he's an airbender. They're on the deck of a ship, surrounded by... well I'll be. Air. They're surrounded by air. Aang is an airbender. Now, let's look at this quote again.

PRINCE ZUKO: Stop! You have nowhere to run!


No he doesn't, Zuko.

EXCEPT FUCKING EVERYWHERE. HE'S A GODDAMN AIRBENDER. And you're a firebender. His glider is made out of wood. Do some firebe- oh, no look he's flown away. YOU DIDN'T EVEN FUCKING TRY. NO WONDER YOUR DAD THINKS YOU'RE A DISAPPOINTMENT. DO I HAVE TO GIVE SOKKA DUMB MCSHIT NAME TO YOU.

From here we go to the Air Temple that Aang hails from, and I actually don't remember much about what happens here, but I do remember with stark clarity, the downright terrible acting of Aang's actor. Momo, the winged-lemur (which is called a bat-lemur in the film for reasons I don't even know any more), comes out to play with Aang and it is honestly the worst thing I've ever watched. Never have I seen a more painful exhibition of an actor fumbling with a thing that isn't there. It was so obvious that it wasn't there. I mean, wow, it was so obvious. It was so painfully obvious that he was playing with nothing, I can't even describe how painful it was to watch that scene, it was terrible.

While we're on the subject of Aang's actor, I guess the voice isn't far off, but that's basically the only thing he gets right. He has this annoying habit of batting his eyelids every when he looks seriously at something and I spend all my time wondering if he's actually just a girl instead and he's practising for when Zuko turns up again. I mean, goddamnit, kid - stop blinking like that - why do you do that? Is this some acting method that's brand new on the market? Because it looks stupid. I don't care if that's what they said about the Beatles - it's not awesome stupid, it's stupid stupid. You look stupid. Stop fluttering your eyelashes.

I think Aang finds out that Gyatso was killed, gets glowy eyed, throws a bit of a gust around, walks inside a really claustrophobic forest with a dragon being enigmatic and unhelpful and etc. No, that is not what happened in the show. Yes, I was really confused too.

Whatever. I'm actually beyond anger for it at the moment.

MEANWHILE, AT THE ZHAO-MOBILE


ADMIRAL ZHAO: Oh look, that's the ship of the disgraced Prince! Let us invite him for dinner so I can mock him soundly, establishing that he is something of a villain protagonist and I am a dick! HAHAHAHAHA YEEEEEES.

AT DINNER THAT NIGHT


ADMIRAL ZHAO: Hello everyone, today I will be talking about exposition. Specifically, I will be talking exposition about the banished Prince, who was banished for talking against his father for something good, so he did it for the right reasons but this is Fire Nation and we are total assholes, so he was banished and now he's a banishy banished Prince who is banished like a banished thing. Now banished people are not allowed to wear the armour or uniform of the Fire Nation army, but since he is my guest who was banished and but a itty bitty wittle banished child, I gave him a Fire Nation uniform to remind him of what he lost when he was banished because I AM A DICK. WOOOO.

[PRINCE ZUKO gets fed up with this shit and gets up.]

(BANISHED) PRINCE ZUKO: [uncomfortably sexily] One day my father will take me back and when he does, you will bow before me.

[He storms out.]

ADMIRAL ZHAO: BAAAAANIIIISHEEEED~~

BACK WITH FLUTTERLASHES AND COMPANY...


Now, this is some news I'm pretty sure everyone heard before the film came out, but in the movie, the firebenders cannot create their own fire. In the show, firebenders channel their body heat and discharge it through their hands and fists as flames, but in the film, firebenders need a source for them to fight. I might also add at this point that... the firebenders don't carry their sources around. They just sort of assume that everyone will be nice enough to keep their camp fires going and not put them out when they arrive. This would be laughable, except it turns out that everyone is. I'm not even-... they don't even try... I'm just. ... Christ.

*sigh*

Anyway, Katara does some waterbending, holy shit, and they're all taken away by the Fire Nation to a camp full of benders, who stare, completely stunned at this surprisingly Caucasian person walking into their little prison. I wouldn't even mind the race fail in this movie if it weren't so blatant? Aang, Katara, and Sokka are literally the only goddamn fucking Caucasians IN THE ENTIRE WORLD! IS HE THE AVATAR? WELL HE FUCKING HAS TO BE, NO? HE'S ONE OF THE ONLY THREE WHITE PEOPLE IN THIS ENTIRE FUCKING UNIVERSE. IS HE THE AH-VA-CALLMEWHITEY-TAR!? YOU'RE IN A HOLLYWOOD MOVIE! OF COURSE HE IS.

Of course Aang is surprisingly enough the only not-totally-idiotic character of this movie (which is surprising, because Aang is still pretty freaking stupid anyway) and he points to all the earthbenders in the village that there is earth under their feet.

I...

Wh...

A-...

Wha-...

I don't...



I have nothing to say.

The firebender guards who are looking over the village laugh at Aang at his claims to be the Avatar, or Ah-madinneja-tar, and Katara does the most pathetic thing in this movie, which is surprisingly one of her most badass and that is so. sad. She runs up to one of them, pushes them hard yelling "LEAVE HIM ALONE!" The firebender, understandably overtaken with fury at how a fierce, head-strong water tribe girl was turned into such a weak little bitch, throws some fire at her, which is intercepted by a sudden wall of earth as the earthbenders realise that they really have been standing on fucking earth and decide to fight back with the fucking earth that they are, and have been, standing on.

*sigh* I hate this movie. It's just... It's so... it's so stupid, why was this made, why doesn't God love me.

I suppose this is a good time as any to talk about the bending in this movie. Because it's not like how it is on the show. The elements don't flow with their commander's movements, there is no immediacy or anything. What happens is that the benders wildly flail around for ten seconds and then finally, their element begins to move. That's like... owning a shotgun that takes thirty seconds to reload - I'm sure they're powerful, but in a fight THAT DOESN'T JUST SLIDE. Anyone with an arrow or a weapon that could hit their target faster in less time it takes a snail to climb a redwood would defeat any bender alive! WHY ARE PEOPLE USING BENDING IN THIS MOVIE, IT'S LAME. In this scene in particular, it's especially poignant how terrible and useless bending is. I'm not even joking here - basically four earthbenders march out screaming, do their little routine and move one rock. It's not even a very big rock. It's about the size of your head, provided you're decently modest.

Six earthbenders.

One rock.

I hate this movie.

AND THROUGHOUT THE ENTIRE FIGHT, NO ONE THINKS ABOUT SMOTHERING THE GODDAMN FIRES!

I have a ton of more notes, but I'm going to bed. Part 2 will be up. I'm not going to flake this time - I actually have notes about this and I want to get to it. So I will get to the rest of the movie. Just... not right now.

I can't deal with it right now.
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