I would like to share my son's review. He just turned 8 and dictated as
his dad typed:
I just hate it so bad!!!
I'm a HUGE fan of the the cartoons. I have the whole series, including
Water, Earth and Fire.
It was a HUGE disappointment because even by the time I saw the
commercial, I knew it would be completely crushing!
I mean, the characters! Iroh was the greatest disappointment. He was
not kind and wise enough. And also he was not old enough.
And why can't they say anyone's name right!???
I thought it was completely disrespectful to put the characters skin
colors the opposite.
After the first twenty minutes of it I was bored already but I have to
say the effects were decent.
And the Avatar did not have enough happiness in him! I think it's
important to the movie. Aang is the main character of the movie, and he
should at least get a little more happiness inside of him!
When I got home that night I had to watch the cartoon series for some
time to completely forget about the movie!
And... actually, I'm watching it right now!
If anybody wanted to see this movie I would suggest they close their
eyes and ears!!!
Dad's two cents:
My son became interested in Avatar the Last Air Bender, the animated
series at age 4.
I bought him the entire series on DVD as soon as the episodes were
available and he and I devoured every episode, again and again.
Compared to the magnificently crafted animated series, I'd have to say
the live action movie was an abysmal embarrassment, a sophomoric and
vapid display of ignorance.
Go rent or buy the animated series instead. I think it's some of the
best fiction ever written for children. It's incredible. It's an epic
parable dealing with sophisticated philosophical, cultural, emotional
and spiritual issues which have plagued human civilization since the
emergence of reason. And it does it with lightheartedness and joy. The
theme deals with no less than issues of greed, power, spirituality, and
the formation of identity and moral values. It grapples with the ideals
of pacifism. It teaches teamwork, compassion, empathy and humility. It
exemplifies wisdom and the appreciation of art, nature and
connectedness - connectedness to each other, to nature, to animals, to
the universe, and emphasizes detachment from possession. The story line
traverses goofy playfulness, tween and young teen crushes and love,
family power dynamics, friendship, mental illness, and gut wrenching
loss. And it's an incredible primer for Eastern spiritual ideals and
But these things can't be achieved effectively without superb
craftsmanship. So beautifully wrought is this story that the fun,
action and struggles are adeptly punctuated with moving poignancy.
The live action version is NONE of these things. No insight, no depth
of character, only the most cursory references of some of the core
thematic values of the animated series, and those done so poorly as to
come off as just... pathetically trite.
The thing I find most upsetting regarding the failure of this movie to
deliver is that the original animated series covers all of what I find
to be the best of Eastern culture, and we Westerners need to understand
these things in this global community. Buddhist and Confucian ideals
and philosophies are front and center and, in my mind, are the greatest
gifts the East has to offer the world, and the very things that are
most clearly in danger of vanishing in the face of the West's
insignificant obsession with material gain and conspicuous consumption.
And another thing, too. It's typical that this story was handled on the
level it was - dismissively. Adults appear to be largely disinterested
in the profound turmoil in which children are engaged as they enter
their teens. They are forming their value systems, they are trying to
reconcile reality with fantasy and desire. They are trying to find the
balance between selfishness and empathy. They are finding what it means
to be themselves, members of a community, and a species on the planet.
They are in agony grappling with issues we were happy to leave behind.
But these struggles are never truly resolved, and our ideas of who we
are and how we fit in the world cannot remain fixed, and, yet, when
they are challenged, we adults consider ourselves to be in a state of
crisis, when that is the perpetual state of being of a young teen. And
I would argue it's a state of flux that we should never leave, that we
should always be questioning ourselves, our figures of authority, and
our place in the world and in relation to those around us. I do not see
these struggles as juvenile, but human, and the animated series brings
all these struggles to mind. Sadly, the movie did little to bring the
richness of these struggles to life.
In my most critical mood, I would say this failure is deeply offensive
to my sensibilities as a human being.
But on the other hand, not everyone has the depth of vision and
creative genius to pull off what admittedly would be a very challenging
feat. I just wish I could see what David Lean could have done with this