Many different writers before me have discussed, in length, the magnum opus that is the film adaptation of "The Last Airbender". From the visionary mind of M. Night Shyamalan, who brought us such classics as "The Happening" and "Lady in the Water", this film is based on some mediocre anime nobody really remembers. However, this director took that kids show and transformed it into something so beautiful and emotional, that it won almost every award at the Oscars that year (including best picture).
The secret behind this film's greatness is the director's willingness to throw out narrative convention and embrace his own avant garde style. Instead of showing us character arcs and personality through visuals and action, M. Night takes a different approach by having the characters tell us how they are feeling, what they are doing, and what's happening in the story at all times. It makes the plot so clear and precise so that no one can miss what's happening. Each of our child actor's performs their roles spectacularly. It was especially bold of M. Night to cast white actors for characters that were originally Asian or Indigenous, what a fascinating way to break tradition and explore how we view race.
The film's tone is also a quality that I just can't get out of my head. In the original show, they spent way to much time on light-hearted and silly kids stuff. They would crack jokes and smile like idiots for far too long. To be fair, the show had darker elements that upended a lot of the previous sense of fun, which gave those dark moments a sense of real tragedy, but the show never truly understood that we wanted nothing but those dark and brooding scenes for the whole run time. We wanted it to show how absolutely serious this fantasy world with children wielding elemental powers and sky bison really was. The film gave us this by making sure the characters never smile and always display the only two valid emotions sadness or mild anger.
The stunning visuals in this film cannot be overlooked. The cartoon had bright colors and striking visuals that made it look like some weird kids show. The film, on the other hand, understands how serious the situations in this world are by presenting it in drab and muted colors, and occasionally a dark blue filter. This makes the action scenes better because the audience has to actually work to see them. Speaking of which, the action scenes get a major upgrade from the show and are a thing of beauty. The show would feature elaborate choreography, staging, pacing, and visuals in fight scene, but that only took up time that could be spend with the characters constantly telling each other how sad they are. The movie rectifies this by having very few fights and the ones that do happen are so simplistic and short that they fit right in with the wonderfully slow pace of the film.
I could honestly gush about this film forever. I could talk about the amazing shot composition in this film, like a shot of Aang's face in extreme close up. I could talk about how the plot masterfully condenses 20 episodes of a television show into an 90 minute movie in a way that throws boring concepts like coherency and focus out the window. There is a small minority of people, losers, that say that this film is a dysfunctional travesty that ruins its great source material and is just a poor film in general. These opinions, however, are objectively wrong and can't match up to the ones expressed by experts like me. After all, I wouldn't lie to you............................................................................................ would I? ; )