I must admit that what little I know about Avatar: The Last Airbender, I just learned upon a cursory examination of the Wikipedia article on the animated television show. Accepting that fact, I also must say that I am more than a little excited about the film adaptation of the cartoon (The Last Airbender) that is due out this July. The movie is written, produced, and directed by M. Night Shyamalan , whose last few films have failed to live up to audience expectations. But despite this, the film looks pretty well made. We all know, though, that trailers can be deceiving.
A few thorns have pricked my side with the trailer, though, and I’ll have to wait and see if they really affect my ability to enjoy the movie when I do finally see it. First, the mention at the beginning of the trailer of "one who is the last of his kind, the only one who can bring balance yadda, yadda, yadda” is somewhat alarming. Where have we heard this before? Um, Harry Potter? Star Wars? The Lord of the Rings? It’s such a trite and used up turn of phrase and plot line. I hope the movie has more to offer than just this messianic, chosen one b.s.
Second is the fact that none of the main characters seem to be of Asian descent, despite the fact that many of them seem to have Asian names. The main character, Aang, looks Asian in the series, but the actor portraying him is distinctly Anglo. It seems that Shyamalan went out of his way to cast Caucasians in the roles of the good guys, and Asians in the roles of the bad guys. What gives with that? Upon a bit more reading, I discovered there has been quite a bit of fan outcry over this fact, resulting in a letter writing campaign, and the very vocal Roger Ebert condemning the casting choices of the film makers. Does Hollywood think that American audiences won’t go see a non-Caucasian in a lead role at the theater?
Anyway, decide for yourself. I hope Shyamalan had good reasons for doing it this way. ILM did the SFX, and those look to be top notch. Hope the story has some beef behind it, and the film makers haven’t relied on eye candy to carry the whole thing.
See you at the cinema.