Monday, July 13, 2009

So, about that "Last Airbender" teaser...

Here is the YouTube link for those who have not seen it. (And, as usual, the comments. Good God, the comments.)

The story so far: Once upon a time, there was a terrific animated series called "Avatar: the Last Airbender" (in America. It's known by other titles in other parts of the world where --this is true-- you can't say "Bender" on television. I wanna know how they deal with all the in-show dialogue. Or with "Futurama" and "The Breakfast Club" for that matter.) The series was one of the most critically acclaimed television series of the past five years, animated or otherwise, with excellent world-building, a compelling story, and -best of all- an astonishing attention to characterization and character development. (Sokka, Toph, and Iroh in particular are among my favorite characters ever, but I digress.) It gained that elusive thing that I suspect every animated series secretly hopes for: a very loyal and dedicated fan-following that crosses generational and cultural lines.

Unfortunately, the series was also controlled by a company that had no idea what they'd gotten their filthy meathooks on. Nickelodeon shuffled the series around it's schedule at a whim, split the final season into two seasons without any warning (Good God, can you imagine everyone tuning in for the next "American Idol" episode only to see a cartoon based upon "Barnyard"? And this goes on for a month with no explanation whatsoever? Why in the f*** were we supposed to put up with this B.S.? Sorry, I just opened up old wounds right there.), and has pretty much done everything in it's power to keep this series from gaining new fans. (OK, it isn't as bad as how Disney treats "Gargoyles" -- how the hell is a series going to gain new fans if it's only on at 3:30 in the God-damn morning?!? -- but still.)

Aside from all that, "Avatar" is an amazing series and you need to shut up and add it to your Netflix Queue right now. The second season is unreal.

So now this "Avatar" live-action film is on the way and so far fans have harped on M. Night Shyamalan's involvement, the improbability of condensing the story into a couple of hours, and, err, casting. (The last factor has become a bit of a touchy subject.) My reaction is simple, and it is basically the same as my reaction to any live-action adaptation of an animated series, particularly one I really really like:


Do we need a live-action "Avatar"? Really? Do we?

This is exactly the kind of series whose reputation among non-fans could be destroyed by a bad movie. (I've already read too many comments from people saying,
"Well it'll keep the show's ten-year-old target audience occupied". AAAAAARRRRRGH!!!!!)

Remember how they tried -twice- and failed -twice- to make an "X Files" movie that doesn't suck? And how it turned out to be nigh impossible to condense the series' storyline into a couple of hours? And the thing is, a lot of people who never watched "X Files" still know at least a little of the basic plot: Years and years ago, Mulder's sister vanished, he's been trying to solve the mystery all his life, and he strongly suspects she was kidnapped by aliens. And that's just off the top of my head. Now ask one of your best friends what the basic plot of "Avatar" is. Go on. You'll probably want to get something to hit yourself in the head with first.

Truth be told, a commenter over at Neon Dragon's blog said it so I don't have to:

I lost my excitement when it went from 'It's gonna be animated!'... to 'It's gonna be live action!' And then I heard (about) the casting producer's 'open call' and how she said 'If you're Swedish...wear lederhosen! If you're Korean... wear a kimono!' and decided I didn't want to give these people my money..." - KayJKay

In conclusion, if Platypusbears are not involved, the whole damn thing will be a complete waste of everyone's time.


Anonymous said...

Spot-on. When I first heard about the Avatar movie, I heard it was going to be live-action. And I was sad. But there was some glimmer of hope somewhere... Hey, maybe it won't completely suck, right? Maybe it'll widen the fanbase, right? That's always good! But then M. Night Talentless comes along with NONE of the passion for the fandom even the newest fan has, whitewashes the whole cast, turns the gorgeous settings of the series into Philadelphia CGI soundstages and basically flips off the entire Avatar fanbase. As you pointed out, it's even worse in that this movie will drag the original series' reputation down. People will go, "Ugh, Avatar? You mean that terrible kids movie?". RAGE.

But the whitewashing of Avatar really makes me pissed. Have you seen this? Someone found the casting calls for Avatar and it literally says: "Caucasian or any other ethnicity". *headdesk*

On a side-note, I didn't know that they aired Gargoyles at such a shitty timeslot... I didn't have cable growing up, so I never really got a chance to watch it, but I saw a trailer for it on a movie once and it looked damn cool. I suppose marketing intelligent writing, characters and plot is just too damn hard. Arrested Development, Firefly and of course Avatar are all prime examples of that.

New reader, by the way. Love the blog, your art... and I see your Pokemon team/TV Tropes link. You are cool. :D

Zachary said...

I sort of *cough* liked the second X-Files movie, though it felt more like an extended episode than a movie, if that makes any sense. It also didn't have ANYTHING to do with the series considerable canon, which was disappointing.

Is the first movie even canonical?

Trish said...

Yuri - Awww, thanks. *^_^*
I didn't want to bring the whole casting fiasco up, really. But I've noticed that things like that help to indicate just how seriously the film-makers take the source material. (See also His Dark Materials Pez dispensers. WTF seems inadequate there.)

Zachary - See the first "X-Files" movie was canon. As a matter of fact, it contributed a major new thread to the ongoing mythology. (If I'm remembering it right, something about evil bees and sinister sunflowers. And cavemen with gooey blue-black Emo tears.) As you can probably tell, I didn't follow the series much after that. <:/
One of the main criticisms of the first "X-Files" movie was that they did not do a stand-alone "weirdo of the week" story; it didn't help people who were hoping the movie would help them catch up on the series. So for the second film, they did do a stand-alone... and that flopped too. Because apparently this time people were hoping it would give the overarching "X-Files" saga a more satisfying conclusion (think "Serenity" to "Firefly").
You can't win. <:(