Wednesday, June 30, 2010

From Fantasy to GrimDark ApocaFuture

The reviews are coming in. You can find them via Twitter #Airbender or Trending Topic; The Last Airbender or boolean searching for; reviews + 'The Last Airbender'. I suggest taking the easy way out and just following Racebending @Twitter, who're linking as much as they can.

I am not surprised the movie is so horrible. Or rather, the last bits of surprise I had at how horrible the movie was going to be were blown away by the video script leaks I linked in a post a little while back.

I'm taking the time and effort to write about M.Night.S' (I do not approve of mockery of the man's name) interpretation in The Last Airbender, because I noticed a trend in the few professional critic reviews I saw.

These reviews seem to share a belief that the environment of THE LAST AIRBENDER happens in a future, dark and dismal version of our Earth. And I can't help wondering what is it about what M.Night.S has done, that reviewers aren't thinking of this world as its own fantasy setting, but instead as some kind of Vampire Hunter D, post-apocalyptic, society now has beings with unique 'mutant' powers, possible future.

Roger Ebert even mentions Steampunk, and the opportunity missed to play with that element and yet he also seems to think this is all about some distant future.

To me, a story about 'in some distant future a messiah figure will come' - is very different from 'in a world in need of heroes...' where there are fantasical creatures like the flying bison and flying lemurs etc...

It's very telling to me that reviewers are apparently not seeing fantasy in the tone of the film, no matter what actually happens in the film and instead align the story with scifi - grim, gritty, dark, humanity is scrounging to make a place scifi at that - dark future scifi.

I mean, imagine if critics walked out of the LOTR movies, thinking Gondor was the possible future of man, and, that NĂºmenor was simply code for our present day (perhaps even specifically the continent of America). How much would it change things for viewers to walk out thinking Mordor was a dark and dismal place as the result of nuclear war instead of decades and more of evil and evil sorcery?

The casting was fail and horrid, the script and dialogue is apparently full of fail and is horrid, the 3D doesn't do a lick damn thing and the direction is apparently leaning towards promoting stiff and blank acting. And yet, I keep remembering this:

iF MAGAZINE: How does this compare to the STAR WARS trilogy?

SHYAMALAN: Wow, this is hard to compare it to STAR WARS. STAR WARS is true religion to me. I can understand what people who are into religion feel when I think about STAR WARS, but if I can make a comparison, it is with the notion of “journey” both trilogies have. THE LAST AIRBENDER is truly the journey of this young maverick boy, Aaang. His journey is similar to the one of Luke Skywalker.

I repeat; M.Night S thought Avatar: The Last Airbender was going to be his Star Wars. Again, that's Star Wars. Sure he mentioned LOTR once or twice, but he also mentioned 'The Matrix' and more often mentioned STAR WARS.

Any A:TLAB (animated series) fan will tell you, bending is NOT the Force.

ETA: I am an A:TLAB fan. And I'm going back to dreaming about a remake.