The Last Airbender vs. Avatar: The Last Airbender

I have an interesting conflict in my mind right now… I recently watched M. Night Shyamalan’s film The Last Airbender in a movie theater, and several episodes of Nickelodeon’s cartoon Avatar: The Last Airbender on television. I had very strong – and very different – reactions to the two versions.

The film version was absolutely awful, but cartoon was unexpectedly AWESOME.

I’ve already shared my dismay at the utter disappointment that was the latest Shyamalan disaster. (Not disaster movie – just plain disaster.) You can read my entire review if you missed it, but the short version was, I didn’t even have to pay to see it, and I STILL felt robbed.

Contrast that with Nickelodeon’s animated series, which was the basis for the film… I’ve seen a few episodes of it over the past two weeks on Netflix streaming television (thanks, Xbox 360!) and it was surprisingly entertaining. The dialogue is better, and the story evokes emotional connections in a way that the movie completely failed to. It’s funny at times, scary at others, and charming in ways you wouldn’t think a cartoon would be.

And frankly, the animated performances in the cartoon somehow seemed more like real-life actors than the human ones did in the movie, which is a huge compliment to the animators and a huge insult to the film actors.

Don’t waste your time with this cinematic butchering of a great cartoon. Check out a few episodes of the ACTUAL cartoon on DVD or instant streaming play – you’ll have a much more satisfying evening.

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