Give ‘The Last Airbender’ a chance

Oh boy. I am going to get it for this one.
Few movies in the past couple of years have received such universal disdain as the live-action adaptation of “The Last Airbender.” According to the website, Rotten Tomatoes, only 6 percent of film critics gave the movie a positive, or “fresh,” review.
That’s just a percent higher than “Vampires Suck” and two percent lower than “Furry Vengeance.”
Those movies were truly disliked, but they weren’t followed with the raw, pulsating hatred that this movie seems to attract, as if the movie itself just shot your dog. In a YouTube video, I watched a kid hate this movie so much, that he threatened to burn down Director M. Night Shyamalan’s house. With the film being released on DVD this week, I write this review as a proud member of that 6 percent that enjoyed it.

The film is M. Night Shyamalan’s adaptation of the popular Nickelodeon show “Avatar: The Last Airbender.” Paramount had to drop the “Avatar” after James Cameron made some low-budget independent film of the same name. In “Avatar,” I mean, “Airbender,” there are four nations each representing one of the four natural elements: Earth, Air, Fire and Water. Certain people are gifted enough to manipulate, or bend, their natural element.
Luckily, there are no grease-firebenders, because then a Flourbender would be greatly needed.
The, ahem, Avatar, is the only person that can control all four of the elements. But he’s gone missing. During his absence, the Fire Nation has waged war on the other nations because, well actually, I forgot why, but they are.
After a brother and sister, Sokka and Katara, find a young airbender and a large flying bison frozen in ice, they realize he is the missing Avatar. He then begins his journey to master the other three elements to defeat those flaming Firebenders.
Like “Percy Jackson” from earlier this year, “The Last Airbender” is a movie I would have loved as a kid. It showed plenty of non-violent action with a little boy at the center of it all that I could root for and connect with.
As an adult, I liked it for its visuals, amazing score by James Newton Howard and the mythology that it created.
Being familiar enough with the source material, I knew where the story was going and what was happening. The plot made sense, but could have been slowed down a bit. The movie is less than 100 minutes, and I think the film could have been a lot stronger with a 2+ hour runtime.
But, kids don’t sit still for that long, and despite the older following the series has, this is still a film very much aimed at the Nickelodeon crowd.
The film also has an epic feel to it, with the soundtrack pulsating in the background to the mythological world it sets up. This was one of the two films released over July 4 weekend this year, with the other being “Eclipse.” Although I didn’t get around to seeing it until a few weeks later, it has the feel of an epic summer blockbuster.
I really liked the special effects, too. I eventually saw it in 3D with a friend up north who hadn’t seen it and wasn’t particularly impressed by the 3D effects, since it wasn’t a 3D film to begin with. But the film itself has a great look to it. Each of the four nations have a distinct look to it, and some of the mythical creatures, like a flying monkey-thing, a flying bison-thing and a dragon-thing all look realistic. Let’s forget the fact that when fireballs hit people, the people don’t catch on fire.
James Newton Howard has worked with Shyamalan on almost all his films, and here his music is really good at setting the mood. The loud banging drums and woodwind instruments give the film an oriental feel to it, and I even have some of the soundtrack on iTunes.
I do agree with some of the fan’s complaints, like changing the pronunciations of the characters’ names. For example the film pronounces Aang as “Ung.” But Shyamalan based the pronunciations off of their original pronunciations, not how the television show pronounced them. If people were complaining that Shyamalan changed the races of some of the characters, then why are they also complaining about his adjustments to the phonetics of the name? The whole situation seems like a wash to me.
When I announce my affection for the film to hardcore fans, I get an ear-load of all the things the movie did so wrong, and I hear long-winded analyses of the film and its source material. I would like to point out that out of all the people who have engaged me in long conversations about the show, only two of them had a boyfriend or girlfriend.
Even more interesting is that most of the others that lash out at me for enjoying the film have not seen the film all the way through, or better yet, not at all. They just like jumping on the bandwagon and hating on what’s cool to hate at the time.
Film critics are not God-like beings that have to like what’s considered the norm of a  good film. Just like everyone else, we have guilty pleasures and movies we like for personal reasons.
For whatever reason, “The Last Airbender” really clicked with me, and I enjoyed it quite a bit. I admit that there is a better film adaptation of the series waiting to be made, but I have more important things to do than to sit and theorize what a movie could have been instead of what it was.
Do I recommend you see this movie? I don’t care what you people do this time. The only recommendation I can make is for the haters to get off my brovaries for enjoying it.
I want to ask Santa Claus to bring me a copy for Christmas this year, but he probably hated the movie just like everyone else and refuses to let me own it.