When I heard they were making an Avatar: The Last Airbender movie my first thought was, "That's insane. It's impossible... I wonder how they'll do it." And when I heard that M. Night Shyamalan was writing and directing it I thought that seemed odd, and not in his genre, and the look of the TV show was not anyway similar to the look of his movies, and I was intrigued and I wanted to see what he'd do. I didn't know what sparks might come of bringing that franchise and that mind into friction. I heard, though, the following anecdote, and it got me twice as intrigued:
M. Night Shyamallamamama sat in a room with the Nickleodeon people, having just finished his draft of the adapted Last Airbender screenplay. It was roughly the size of a Latin dictionary, and it broke the table. So they asked him, "How the hell long a movie are you making?" Six hours, apparently. "You've got to trim the thing, M. Night Shyallamomanny." And he said, "Aw...but...aw..." and apparently looked really upset.
It was in good hands. Or caring ones, anyway. I was content with that. I'd know it was being adapted by someone who wanted to do good by the Avatar lore. What with coming off of various Marvel adaptations and feeling like the people handling many of those were probably Superman fans, and had never picked up an issue of Daredevil in their lives...after cooling off from that betrayal, it really did give me comfort knowing that M. Night Shilohmamainyofacellama was going to be at least as upset as me that adapting Avatar was impossible.
Because, of course, it was.
So far this has all been sort of history, and now I'm going to judge the movie. I find that, as usually happens, my opinion will probably annoy people. I'm going to defend this movie, and defend it with all my heart. Not because it was an especially pretty movie, not because it in any way maintained the soul of the Avatar franchise, and certainly not because it was the next big Shamanlawyermanna movie. It failed at all that.
I am going to defend this movie with all my heart because M. Night Shyamalan took on and did something impossible, and that makes him mighty. And what he did was give every single necessary fact in the Book 1: Water plotline to lay down exactly what the story of that season in the Avatar series is. Me mum, having never watched the TV series, was conversant on all things bendery after seeing the movie. Suddenly she had a topic of conversation with her sons. It was cool. That is what M. Night Shymanlamenoodle did.
People will complain. Oh, it's too short. Oh, it wasn't funny enough. Oh, they ruined bending. Oh, they ruined Sokka, and Zucko, and Kitara, and Suki, and Appa, and they mispronounced everything, and Iro was skinny, and they just didn't fucking put together a worthy representation of the Avatar legend. Yes, yes, yes. So the hell what? Guess what, kids. It was a movie! It was an adaptation of an already excellent TV series. The only reason the movie does or even ought to exist is to have badder-ass fight scenes, and to give just enough knowledge of the storyline of the legend to a layman so that he'll want to go watch the TV series. Sorry to say it, folks, but The Last Airbender movie was an hour forty-eight minute trailer for the TV series. Which would you prefer anyway: spending six hours of your life watching the TV series again except this time with funny looking actors? Or spending an hour and forty minutes of your life dragging your loser friends to see the movie, then them becoming curious enough that they start watching the TV series with you and then they become slightly less losery, and you spend six hours watching the first season of the TV series with them and have a grand old time?
Whatever, dude. I'll take my impossible adaptation and my Avatar conversant mother.
I tip my hat off to you, M. Night Shyllama.