Having seen it today , my review is it sucks . Everything is the problem with it right from the cast , pacing , dialogues , acting , animation and story .
The cartoon on Nick was very good and created a niche for Avatar: the last airbender . One hoped Night Shyamalan directing it would help it reach to the wider theatre going audience .
One of the major problem was casting . Fans who has seen the original cartoon were brought up with asian characters and setting . In the movie except for Dev Patel who played Zuko , rest of them were white . This struck a jarring note for the fans .
Costumes were another problem. The cartoon had great colorful costumes with some generic costume for each tribe / nation . The movies cast except for the fire nation had grey furs everywhere not helping the viewer see that there are 4 nations . In the cartoon you could almost know which nation a character belonged to from his dressing and hair styles . Not so in the movie.
Next is the pacing . Aang went fast from the boy in the iceberg to the avatar . There was no character developement . Gran gran ‘s decision to send Katara and Sokka to rescue the Aang appeared forced . Katara’s and Sokka’s expressions doesn’t reflect that they are actually going on a flying bison to rescue the avatar who was not seen for a 100 years . It appeared as if they were doing this daily from the time they were born .
To fit a tv show to a film requires certain liberties with the script . You can’t fit in everything . However the story strayed too much . From the avatar who was the master of the 4 elements and a spirit of the planet it went into avatar being able to speak to spirits being his unique quality . His going into meditation everytime to talk to a dragon for advice was too ludicrous .
Aang’s reason for running away from home was changed as well. In the cartoon Aang runs away as he was to be seperated from his teacher/guru for further training . In the movie he runs away as monks tell him avatar can’t have any family .
Almost all firebenders in the movie can bend only when near a source of fire . Thats a major change in the story element . In the cartoon firebenders advantage was they could produce fire anywhere in contrast to water benders/earth benders who need a source of their material next to them .
Zuko’s characterization was way too different . It was only in part 2 and 3 you get Zuko’s theme of a good guy on a bad path . However in this movie Shyamalan takes every opportunity to remind viewers of that .
The graphics of bending appear weird . The moves made by the characters for the bending look great . Hopefully in the 2nd and 3rd movies when bending becomes more advanced the animation will look better .
Ultimately the last airbender’s ultimate failure was it tried too hard to convert what was a fun cartoon with the goofy Aang into a serious dark realistic movie thereby losing all the fun factor that endeared it to its audience.