Home TV Shows Reviews ‘Avatar: The Last Airbender’ Netflix Series Review - A Depressingly Dull Live-Action Adaptation

‘Avatar: The Last Airbender’ Netflix Series Review - A Depressingly Dull Live-Action Adaptation

A young boy known as the Avatar must master the four elemental abilities in order to save a war-torn world and defeat a terrible opponent bent on his destruction.

Vikas Yadav - Thu, 22 Feb 2024 18:30:35 +0000 1384 Views
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In Avatar: The Last Airbender, fantasy is rendered flat, excitement is replaced with something enervating, and adventure feels anemic. What is the point of this live-action adaptation? Eight episodes and eight dull hours later, I still don't know the answer to this question. Have the streaming services become so creatively bankrupt that they can merely recycle (and destroy) old material to generate a lot of viewing hours? The job of fiction is to transport us to new worlds or the ones that mirror our society to offer us entertainment or insights. But chintzy adaptations, like Avatar: The Last Airbender, take the joy out of watching shows, listening to stories, and experiencing imaginative visual delights. To be clear, nothing in this series can be labeled "imaginative." It's the work of a hack whose mediocrity makes us sit through second-rate green-screen graphics.

A series like this that takes us to various magical locations should have ignited as well as satisfied our curiosity. However, the creators themselves are incurious and impassive towards the world and the characters they have created. Places like Omashu, Kyoshi Island, and the residence of the Water Tribe are simply used as ugly backdrops for explosions that sore your eyes. The people living in these places speak only English. What's more, these people look as disposable as nameless, faceless CGI armies. Avatar: The Last Airbender is not interested in providing depth to its settings or filling them with creativity. Its interests are banal - almost excruciating. The members behind the camera spend all their efforts constructing computer-generated creatures, so much so that they forget to focus on essential things (developing the story and fleshing out the characters).

Alas, these creatures, too, are placed in battles devoid of rhythm or clarity. The shoddy visual effects combined with a headache-inducing quick-cut editing render fight sequences visually incoherent and uninteresting. You don't have to go far. Consider the violent clash from the first episode between the Fire Nation and the Airbenders. Given how it leads to the death of a character who means a lot to Aang (Gordon Cormier), this scene should have at least been tinged with grief. But sadness never even touches the surface of this soulless series. Aang mentions how terrible it is to be alive after so many years with the knowledge that your friends and family members no longer exist. This sentimental line, though, sounds like a footnote. It doesn't make you think or feel anything.

Perhaps the fact that the first episode, which derives its title from the name of the main character, turns out to be so appalling should be taken as a warning. "Proceed with caution," the series seems to be saying because it never becomes better or shows any promise. The episode ends with Aang saying something about not knowing where things will lead and that this is just the beginning. This display of confidence took me by surprise. Avatar: The Last Airbender, obviously, continues to go downhill, so the "This is just the beginning" line should be taken as an ominous sign.

The events in this series unfold at a breakneck speed. What this means is that the story is pushed forward through the laziest choices. A few inspirational, positive words from Aang prove enough to convert Katara (Kiawentiio) from an amateur to a sufficiently skilled Waterbender (she successfully creates a ball of water). The same trick - of using words to push characters - pops up again when Sokka decides to save Aang from Prince Zuko (Dallas Liu). These shortcuts quickly place the characters amidst combats, as this is what the show thinks its audience requires. "Give them more explosions" is the motto of the creators.

Aang carries the weight of proving himself as the Avatar - the ultimate savior. Zuko is burdened with proving his worth to his father, Fire Lord Ozai (Daniel Dae Kim). This desperation to maintain an image is the one similar thing between them, and good writing would have produced intriguing parallels and psychological connections from this ingredient. But Avatar: The Last Airbender has such weak characters that they are reduced to mere dialogue dispensers. Katara and Sokka's (Ian Ousley) tragic past is treated as exposition. The latter's infatuation with various women is, at first, served for laughs and, later, for tears. Both aspects fail to produce the desired effect. Zuko's complexity gives rise to a one-note expression, and Aang moves around, making happy and sad faces. The magical world of Avatar: The Last Airbender looks so cheap, so lifeless, that our real world, with all its ordinariness and imperfections, looks far more brilliant.

Final Score- [3.5/10]
Reviewed by - Vikas Yadav
Follow @vikasonorous on Twitter
Publisher at Midgard Times



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