The Last Airbender Not That Bad, Not That Good

Watching a movie based on a TV show or book you loved is always a dicey proposition, and although I was looking forward to seeing "The Last Airbender," I was also a little bit worried about all the critics who, I’d heard, had proclaimed it the Worst Movie of the Moment.

It wasn’t that bad, fortunately.

It wasn’t that good, either, though.

The big screen adaptation was a special-effects, drama-heavy movie extravaganza, which was too bad, because the animated television show "Avatar: The Last Airbender," a Nickelodeon original, was a comical, character-driven fantasy set in a well-drawn and interesting world.

The main character, Aang, went from being a goofy, fun-loving little kid who could also fight to being a depressive butt-kicking kid who frowned a lot.

The supporting character, Sokka, went from being a smart-alecky, wary wanna-be-warrior (he grows into a real warrior in the course of the show) to being… pretty much a fighter who has a tepid love scene with a princess the audience doesn’t know well enough to care about.

And the acting wasn’t really very good, either, with two exceptions: Dev Patel‘s moody glowering as the driven,  yet sympathetic antagonist, Prince Zuko, was pretty well right on-target with the show. And Shaun Toub, who could not look less like the portly Iroh from the TV show, nevertheless remade the character in his own image as a lean old wolf with some bite left in him, and quite creditably.

Otherwise, though, the slightly-wooden acting, mediocre writing and not-quite-right characterizations marred the movie. And the script didn’t do a good job of highlighting the infighting of the Fire Nation, and I had to tell my mom which of those guys in red was which several times, because they weren’t always named.

All in all, not a great success. I don’t think it was quite the disastrous failure the critics made it out to be, either, though.

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