I Watch Avatar: The Last Airbender S2 and Post My Thoughts About It

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Re: I Watch Avatar: The Last Airbender S2 and Post My Thoughts About It

Post by Adiwan (?) » Tue Oct 19, 2021 2:52 am

There are also comics that continue the story after this finale. I highly recommend reading them as they are equally as good as the show itself.

The books in order of release:
The Promise,
The Search,
The Rift,
Smoke and Shadow,
North and South,
Imbalance,
Katara and the Pirate's Silver,
Toth Beifong's Metal Bending Academy,
Suki Alone

Mini stories of things that happened between adventures:
The Lost Adventures
Team Avatar Tales

If you want only to read one of these stories I strongly recommend reading The Search as it resolves a dangling thread of the animated series.
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Re: I Watch Avatar: The Last Airbender S2 and Post My Thoughts About It

Post by DaikatunaRevengeance (?) » Tue Oct 19, 2021 8:01 am

i think what happened to azula is mentioned in a comic, but it's been years since i read it and i forgot
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;) ❤️ :twasnothin: ❤️ :fancyhat:

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Re: I Watch Avatar: The Last Airbender S2 and Post My Thoughts About It

Post by Mechanical Ape (?) » Fri Nov 26, 2021 5:29 pm

I'm thankful for Avatar: The Last Airbender. And before I sit down to enjoy what will no doubt be the agonizing pain of The Last Airbender, the live action movie, let me first put down my thoughts on how I might do an A:TLA film, while I'm still fresh.

Adapting A:TLA to screen, whether live action or animated, is a good idea. It's a fine TV show with an excellent setting, characters who are distinct and likeable, and a not-overly-complicated storyline. Watching it, you want to introduce it to others. At the same time there are occasions when the cartoon felt constrained by its budget, or the writers felt constrained by the limits of kid-show standards: there's room for an adaptation to create a fuller, even prettier experience. So to the basic question, should an A:TLA film exist at all?, I give an enthusiastic "yes" and hearty thumbs up.

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But I don't think it should be a straight adaptation. For one thing, you'd want a trilogy; you couldn't smoosh the whole saga into a single feature. At the same time, for all those hours of cartoon footage, there's not a lot of plot to go around. In terms of the big picture, A:TLA is really simple, even simplistic. In the pilot, the characters set their goal -- to learn the bendings and beat the Fire Lord -- and in the finale they achieve that. In between, a couple of ticking-clock elements are introduced (the comet and the eclipse) and we gain a fourth teammate. That's pretty much it.

Moreover, the cast doesn't have much in the way of story arcs. Zuko does, of course; but our heroes change largely by them leveling up -- they get more powerful. As people they don't change much. Aang remains basically the same cheerful, helpful kid-with-destiny from the moment he steps out of the iceberg. Toph starts awesome and remains so. Sokka probably grows the most, Katara the least (again, we're counting character growth apart from gaining powers).

Now the cartoon runs for 40-some hours, and there's lots of fun episodic stuff throughout, so the fact that our cast and premise are mostly static is something that's not very important or even noticeable most of the time. But this stasis becomes obvious if you compress it into a feature film or even three.

So in summary I think an A:TLA movie would need to have both less and more going on than the cartoon. And that means abandoning a faithful adaptation. A difference in medium requires a difference in storytelling.

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Details: Film #1 would need to work standalone. You may plan for a series, but in the hypothetical market for this hypothetical film you can't guarantee you'll get one. Instead you'd want something that tells a little story on its own and reaches its own little closure. Film #1 would be introducing the world and the main characters. The arc would be starting with a trio of dumb kids and getting them to an emotional place where by the end, they've become real heroes with the maturity and vision to go on a real quest. The decision "we're going to help Aang finish his training and take the fight to the Fire Nation", which happens during the pilot? That's how the first film ends. That's where everything leads to.

That means our main cast don't start our tale as fully-fledged heroic types. Which makes sense! They're kids! They're three kids and a bison wandering the world without adult supervision, they're not going to know what to do right away. We lean harder on these kids' immaturity and flaws and their experiences teach them to overcome them. Note that this is not making the kids darker and edgier for no reason: there is a reason, because it flows naturally from their situation and the point is to watch them overcome these issues to become more complete people, the sort of people who could, potentially, take on a world-conquering army and win.

KATARA: For me, Katara is the most interesting when she's Angry Katara; it's what made her S3 revenge episode so compelling. I'd start playing that aspect way earlier. Film!Katara has taken her mother's death very hard and she's mad about it, but also (at the start) powerless to do anything with that anger. She's living in an igloo at the bottom of the world, just stewing, not coping well, and the hated Fire Nation are oceans away, untouchable, unless they choose to raid again which could happen at any time. And then, into her lap drops the goddamn Avatar and his go-anywhere bison. Yeah, to Katara what this means is a chance to make the bastards hurt. And her arc is to discover that there are higher purposes and healthier emotions available to her. Revenge is painful and fruitless and self-destructive. Instead of avenging her mother, she chooses to honor the qualities that made Mom so beloved to her. She grows into her role as the Team Mom we all know and love, here a deliberate choice instead of a natural instinct.

In a more practical sense this can reflect into her waterbending powers: the reason she's a poor waterbender is because her mind is tied in knots of rage and grief. Learning to acknowledge emotions and flow with them instead of fighting against them, is what makes her unblock her own limitations as a bender. Her personal growth is thus visually represented by her kicking more ass.

SOKKA: This has always been my personal take on Sokka: a boy trying to figure out how to be a man in the absence of masculine role models. Dad and the other men of the tribe left to go to war; Sokka may well be the oldest male left in the village. So who's going to show him how to grow up? Nobody. He's got to figure that shit out for himself. And of course as an adolescent he's going to guess wrong. What does it mean to be a man? Well, based on how little boys think about it ... and based on what the actual men in his tribe did ... the answer to him is obvious: a man fights. Sokka's arc, in the cartoon and also in the movie, should be about learning, through contact with the wider world and real people, the lessons in maturity and non-toxic masculinity that were unavailable to him at home.

AANG: I've always appreciated that even though he's the title character and the reason for the story, Aang isn't the main character. He's part of an ensemble of main characters, characters of equal value, both to the audience and to each other. As such, dude needs a growth arc like everybody else. For the film I'd want to focus on his youth and immaturity, that not only is he unsure of his destined responsibility, he doesn't even understand it on some level. He gets that he's important and he's the Avatar, but doesn't really understand what that means. At the start of the film we should see him as a little kid with more power than maybe we're comfortable with a little kid having. Kids can be bastards, they can be unaware of the consequences of their actions. By the end, though, Aang should be in a place where we see him (and he sees himself) as someone who's understanding his place in the world and grasping right and wrong and responsibility. He may still have, as they say, a long way to go before he's ready to save anyone, but he's on the right path now.

ZUKO: In film #1, he'd be just a recurring villain. The film stays in the POV of Team Aang, to whom he's a dangerous and tenacious enemy. Nothing about his backstory or emotional ambiguity is revealed at all in the first film. That's saved for later. We learn to hate him before we're taught to sympathize with him.

-----

Enough of my tl;dr crap. Let's watch some cinematic crap.
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Re: I Watch Avatar: The Last Airbender S2 and Post My Thoughts About It

Post by Mechanical Ape (?) » Fri Nov 26, 2021 6:11 pm

THE LAST AIRBENDER (2010)

The Sixth Sense is a masterpiece and it always will be. Nothing in the 22 years since can take away from it. But none of that goodwill is permitted here today, M. Night. It's time to get real.

0:01 Okay, little bending effects with the Paramount and Nickelodeon logos. Fine, fine. Carry on.

1:00 They recreate the cartoon intro with the martial arts guys doing the elements. But somehow it's lamer in live action. (I have a feeling I'm going to write that sentence a lot.) For some reason, this happens before, and separate from, Katara's narration about elements. So instead of happening at the same time, you get visual action in silence, followed by VO over a black screen with text. This is a horrible, horrible decision. Also Katara's actor is not very good at narration. Also there's no need to front-load exposition about the spirit world just yet.

I mentioned before that a A:TLA film shouldn't be a straight adaptation, but honestly if they'd just recreated the intro shot for shot and word for word, it would've been better than what we got.

1:58 BOOK ONE: WATER - I dunno whether this film covers the whole story or if they were hoping for a series. Surely they're not planning on cramming three "Books" into an hour and 45 minutes?

2:30 Was Sokka supposed to have been soaked by that blob of water? Shouldn't that have happened on screen so we could see it happen?

The Sokka actor certainly looks and sounds the part. I dunno yet if his acting is good, but they got the look right. I want to be fair and give praise for things done right.

3:00 Narration for shit that should be shown not told. I'm going to be writing that sentence a lot too, aren't I?

3:43 I'm not watching in HD, because who cares, so I genuinely can't tell if this is poor greenscreening or just poor streaming quality. But it sure doesn't look like the actors are really outdoors.

3:52 Pictured: dopes.

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Also why hasn't Sokka said anything funny? Why are words coming out of your mouth that are not funny, Sokka? What are you doing, Sokka?

4:24 Now Sokka is saying shit like "There's something under the ice" and "The ice is cracking" when these things are very visibly occurring on screen. This is not the actor's fault, though. There's no way an actor performing in front of a greenscreen can tell what the CGI team is going to draw around them. The director tells them "look at your feet and say this line and run away" and that's all they get.

4:50 "Probably some Fire Nation trick," warns Sokka. Now I looked back, and so far we have not been told that the Fire Nation has attacked. We've been told there is a war going on, that Mom was killed in it and Dad has gone to fight in it, but we haven't been told who the enemy is or how the war started and, like, shouldn't that have been explained in at least one of the two previous wads of exposition?

You don't need to be fancy about it. The cartoon just said "Everything changed when the Fire Nation attacked" and that tells you everything you need to start with.
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Re: I Watch Avatar: The Last Airbender S2 and Post My Thoughts About It

Post by Mechanical Ape (?) » Fri Nov 26, 2021 7:08 pm

New post represents the break I took to fetch vodka.

5:03 "Just back away, really slow," he says, immediately turning his back and walking away.

5:39 Zuko's line is really poorly ADR'ed in, and I expect this is going to happen a lot so I won't comment each time. Seriously, M. Night Shyamalan has made competent films in the past, and they haven't all been good but he should be past rookie mistakes, at least.

6:24 Katara starts interrogating the clearly unconscious person, like if you're going to introduce yourself with a bunch of questions at least start with "are you okay?" That would at least have established her as the compassionate one.

6:47 Finally some of levity where Sokka is knocked by Appa's tail, but it's a flat shot that evokes nothing. Again, not saying the actors are particularly good, but they are not getting any support from the directing or production side. It's some real Phantom Menace shit.

6:56 Katara's earlier exposition claims their village used to be "a big city" but it clearly is not, there are no ruins or anything, it looks exactly like the village in the cartoon so I don't know why they added this random claim.

7:00 Aang is just up and about like he hasn't been in a glacier for 100 years, no nursing back to health or anything to establish character or the passage of time. Just like their discovery of Aang, it's perfunctory "now it's time for this plot element to happen".

7:05 And again, Katara's first question is "how'd you get all the way out here?" like, did they cut a shot where she asks "what is your name" which is how an actual person might begin such a conversation. Christ, it's only been 7 minutes.

7:38 The only reason I can make any sense of what's happening is because I've seen the cartoon, but imagine being some normie grownup walking into the theater with your kid and trying to take this shit in. Good luck.

7:51 The Fire Nation shows up (again, it is still not established that they are the reason for the war) and absolutely no one makes even a token attempt to confront them; it seems less like a raid than a friendly visit. Also they hid some of the children in the tents but others are just standing outside with everybody.

8:30 "I am Prince Zuko" he announces, staring at the ground. Eye contact, Zukes, it's super important for any aspiring middle manager. They try to hide his face at first, but it's not actually a bad enough scar for a dramatic reveal.

9:19 They arrest Grandma. Katara is pissed and wants to start shit right there but Sokka talks her down. That's a genuinely good moment. Especially since it reflects a moment earlier when Sokka is ready to start shit and Katara talks him down. Well done, film.

9:35 The film loops in some background noise of crying and wailing, to show this is a tense and scary scene, but the background actors just look mildly confused. We're supposed to feel threatened but we just don't, the filmmaking isn't doing anything to back it up.

Also neither the audience nor the characters have any reason at this point to care about Aang or why it matters if these Fire Nation assholes find him. Like the villagers don't have any reason to not say "The kid's in Tent #3, take him and go," and they have excellent reason to do exactly that.

Also wasn't there supposed to be an enormous furry creature in this film? They never explained where Appa is, whether they just left him sleeping by the iceberg, or if he came back to the village with them; and if so, how they moved him (they haven't established he can fly) and where he's hidden.

Like, we got a full view of the village earlier, and Appa is not in the shot and there is no building large enough to house a giant flying bison. So the film just forgot about him. Too much work, I guess.

9:25 They told Aang "hide in the tent" and then make absolutely no effort to prevent the soldiers from checking the tent. What was the goddamn point.

9:54 Fucking FINALLY someone asks for Aang's name, and it's the villain and Aang doesn't even answer.

10:20 Aang cares about the villagers. Zuko threatens to burn down the village and Aang, out of selfless concern, agrees to go peacefully. That's all mighty fine on paper. But Aang's actor just straight fails to sell any of this.
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Re: I Watch Avatar: The Last Airbender S2 and Post My Thoughts About It

Post by Mechanical Ape (?) » Fri Nov 26, 2021 7:46 pm

10:36 Then a soldier FINALLY does some firebending to intimidate the villagers, after they've already shown themselves to be fully intimidated and unresisting and the villains are leaving with what they wanted. No, no, no. You do this one of two ways: you have the soldiers do firebending when they arrive to show how badass they are (and show off your SFX), OR you have them burn down the village as they leave to establish how merciless they are. You don't have one dude do a pointless dance move.

11:02 Katara and Sokka have a nice scene where they establish how much they care about each other and that Aang should be their responsibility and I swear, there's more characterization in this scene than any other so far. It's a good scene and it's competently acted and we know and like the characters better at the end of it. It doesn't match at all with the scenes preceding it, but on its own it's fine.

11:15 Poor dramatic timing, again not the actors' fault: Sokka should say "we need a miracle" and THEN you hear Appa mooing outside, it shouldn't happen while he's still giving his line.

Also Appa is just there now, no explanation of how he got to the village or if he went with the rest of the group, and if so, why they're surprised to see he can fly. Also why they didn't seem to ask "hey what happened to that giant creature we saw earlier?" before now. Also there are kids dangling from Appa's legs, and they loop in happy laughing but it looks like they're just dead.

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The Southern Horned Corpse-Bison hangs the carcasses of its victims to suck the juice later.

12:00 This is our Uncle Iroh? I know there could only ever be one Mako on this sorry earth but jeez, they didn't even try.

13:01 Hey, they mentioned Hama the bloodbender! A meaningless reference but I will take what I can get.

13:21 When Granny says Aang has airbending tattoos and Katara asks "How can that be?" you and both I know that's because the Air Nomads were wiped out. But this hasn't been established in the movie yet.

Which is a reminder that at this point in the cartoon, Katara and Sokka have explained to Aang (and therefore the audience) that he's been frozen for 100 years and what's happened in the world since then. And this has not occurred in the movie, despite being a really important piece of exposition. Like seriously, one of the strengths of A:TLA is its worldbuilding, why would you ever pass up a chance to elaborate?

13:28 Katara has to ask Granny what the spirit world is, despite Katara mentioning it in her opening narration. And I know narration isn't the same as diegetic spoken dialogue, but it raises the question, why is Katara narrating about stuff her character doesn't understand? If Granny's the one who knows this shit, then have her do the opening.

But you don't even need an opening narration if you're going to have a character re-explain this shit later.

Also we don't really need to be explained what a "spirit world" is. Yeah it's another world that's full of spirits, no shit, we don't need to halt the action while you tell us that. I know the target audience is kids, but kids are not this dumb. Only adults can be this dumb.

14:45 We already have motivation for Katara and Sokka to rescue Aang, that's what their earlier dialogue was about; we don't need Granny to say "he needs you, it is your destiny". Why does she even think she knows what their destiny is? Just because she's old? Old people don't know shit. Check Facebook.

14:52 They bring Aang a tray with a pitcher of water and a rock and a candle, and he gasps like it's the fucking gom jabbar or something.
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Re: I Watch Avatar: The Last Airbender S2 and Post My Thoughts About It

Post by Mechanical Ape (?) » Fri Nov 26, 2021 8:52 pm

I can't fucking take this. But the only way out is through.

15:43 The test of the Avatar is rocks and shit wobbling? Does Aang not have any control over his bending? Also should he even be bending anything but air at this point? But then Zuko says it proves he's an airbender, but if that was the test, then why the rock and water and fire? What even the fuck is any of this? Why are we wasting time "proving" something the audience already knows? Why would anyone think to write this scene? I'm going mad. I'm going mad. I'm going mad. I'm going mad.

16:19 If you want to keep the goddamn Avatar from escaping, you need a little more security than just saying "Don't try to escape".

It occurs to me we don't even know at this point that Zuko or Iroh can firebend. They're just two assholes for all we know.

16:41 I will not complain about finally getting an action scene, anemic though it may be.

17:17 Again, bad dramatic timing: Zuko shouldn't say "You have nowhere to run" after Aang reveals his glider. That's not how the gag works. Props to the glider though, it looks like it should. They didn't fuck up the glider.

17:46 Holy shit, this dialogue is dire. "The Fire Nation is up to something" -- first of all, how do you get that from the previous scene? Shouldn't the fact that they arrested you be evidence enough? Why haven't you asked yet why the Fire Nation are bad guys, when from your POV they weren't before? Or why haven't the other characters explained it to you? "Yeah, we know the Fire Nation is up to something, they've been conquering the world for the past century."

"I have to go back now" "We'll come with you" -- Go where exactly? I assume Aang means back to his Air Temple, but that is not at all obvious if you haven't watched the TV show.

"We're going with you" -- I guess this convinces Aang even though there's no reason he'd change his mind from a second ago. Christ, this is awful. How do you fuck up the scene where the heroes agree to team up, that's normally one of the best scenes. This movie just tripped on its own ass and fell dick first into the next 60 minutes. And that's physically impossible, which accurately conveys the fucked up non-Euclidian alternate universe this goddamn movie has thrown my brain into.

18:02 Yeah, so Iroh just confirmed they know Aang's the Avatar, so again, why did Iroh merely say "airbender" earlier. Did no one edit this script.

18:22 Narration for shit that should be shown not told, electric boogaloo.

Or at least it should be told by Aang directly, not told by Katara that Aang told it to them. Jesus Christ.

18:38 Aang's actor is okay sometimes. There are scenes where he delivers his lines well with energy, and I think that yeah, he was well cast. And that's true of Katara and Sokka too. And then there are other times when they suck. I've heard it said "there are no bad actors, just bad directors" and while I wouldn't go that far it does seem like that's somewhat in effect here.

18:50 Finally we learn the title character's name. Seriously, out of all the exposition we've had they're just getting around to this now. It's not even apropos of anything else happening in the scene or conversation, it's more like they said "Oh shit we forgot to establish this, let's shoehorn it in randomly". Like imagine you're an hour into Fellowship of the Ring (which is the equivalent of the 20-minute mark for this movie) and you hear "by the way, the monks named me Frodo."

19:40 And here's where it's finally explained that the Fire Nation started a war, Aang's been frozen for 100 years and it's only been a few days from his POV. And all this stuff is really crucial, and they just forgot to mention it earlier because ... well, because why? Because there was more important action to focus on? Well, there wasn't.

20:08 I don't know why they were called "Air Nomads" when they lived in temples, that sounds pretty sedentary to me, but this was in the cartoon and I can't fault the movie for it.

20:12 "YOU'RE LYING!"

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Look, denial is an absolutely valid reaction to news of the genocide of your people. But not when you're ankle deep in a field of their bones. Once again, timing: Katara explains the destruction of the Air Nomads, Aang refuses to believe, THEN he sees the skeletons everywhere. All these beats are fine, you just had them in the wrong order.

21:13 Overwhelmed with anger and grief, Aang enters the Avatar State. This is appropriate. I just wish he actually looked angry while he was doing it. Cartoon Aang, when he got mad and went glowy-eyed? They sold that shit. Not so much here.

23:13 And here's Admiral Zhao, who was a fine adversary in S1, but here feels like one of those details which you can and should snip out of a feature adaptation. We've got enough moving parts in our story already. I mean heck, we just learned our title character's name five minutes ago, and we just saw a dragon in the spirit world, give us a moment to breathe.

And oh yes: narration for shit that should be shown not told. If you're writing a screenplay and a character delivers exposition with "As you know ..." that's a sign you haven't thought enough. When you find yourself typing those three words, you need to immediately stop and undo it. Take a deep breath, go to sleep. Start fresh in the morning.

Genuinely if I were Zuko's actor I'd be insulted by the inclusion of this scene, as it seems to imply Shyamalan doesn't have enough confidence that I can convey this characterization through my performance, and they need to introduce a new character to openly explain it.
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Re: I Watch Avatar: The Last Airbender S2 and Post My Thoughts About It

Post by Mechanical Ape (?) » Fri Nov 26, 2021 10:02 pm

23:35 OK this is the third scene where a character's ready to start shit and another character quietly reins them in. It worked the first two times, but now you've pushed your luck, movie. Find a new visual shorthand.

24:40 Zuko spars with his soldiers, but if you blinked and missed his little nod then you wouldn't know this was a sparring session, it looks like maybe Zhao's men ambushed him. Because it's pretty intense for a sparring session, and I guess we're supposed to decide Zuko's in a bad mood and is landing real hits, I dunno. It's a fight scene and these are welcome regardless of context.

25:22 Oh shit, Katara still thinks Aang may be the Avatar. It's hard for me to keep track of what is and isn't established. Presumably Aang knows he's the Big A, if he didn't already.

26:30 At last we settle into something episodic: the gang in the Earth Kingdom, helping locals. There's a bit of comedy too. None of this is award-winning material. But for a TV show watcher like me, it feels like comfort food. I'm down for it.

28:07 Aang rallying the captured earthbenders is a fine thing. But as he himself points out, there's dirt everywhere. This made more sense in its cartoon counterpart, where they were kept on a metal ship and couldn't do anything until they got the idea to bend coal.

28:45 Oh my God, this cinematography. Katara runs at a guard and surprise-tackles him, and you can sell that if you edit it for quick close shots, but here it's a medium shot so Katara has to run all the way across the screen, and there's no way the guard didn't see her coming. It's so awkward.

Then Aang starts airbending and Guard #1 says "How is he doing that?" when Guard #1 had been talking about airbending ten seconds ago.

And this fight scene is so fucking tame. Heroes run into frame and push a bad guy and the other bad guys just stand there in the background. Then someone hurls a rock at a guard and he turns around, and the other guards are still just standing there. It's like there's a rule that nobody can do anything except when the camera's on them, and even then, only one person in the shot can do something and everyone else goes comatose. This isn't merely bad choreography, it's the opposite of choreography. It's an abject refusal to have more than one thing happen on screen at a time. None of the background characters are given any direction at all besides "stand there", and nobody can react to CGI effects that are being added later. It's awful.

I mean we all know this thing here:



You rarely see an action film fail in this specific way. The way you'd normally expect such a film to fail is that it's an incoherent mess with flat characters -- but boy, were those fight scenes good! And so it's interesting to see a martial arts film (or at least one kinda-sorta inspired by martial arts films) that just fails so badly in presenting its fights. Like, it's not as if there's a shortage of skilled fight/stunt coordinators in the business. I'm sure any number of them would have been thrilled to lend their talents to an A:TLA film. Yet where were they? Why, apparently, were none of them let near this project?

29:18 The other thing I want to mention about this fight scene is why it even exists in the first place. It's established earlier how absurd it is to hold a bunch of earthbenders prisoner in a big pit with dirt walls and dirt floors. Clearly these people could overcome their captors if they wanted to. So that must mean they don't want to, right? And that makes sense. The earthbenders have been imprisoned on the condition that if they go quietly, their muggle families stay safe. Therefore they wouldn't try to escape even though they easily could.

And all that's perfectly fine. The problem is, the film sets this up but then makes it seem like the earthbenders' issue isn't their concern for their families. Just that they're scared. Or disorganized. Or unmotivated. Or too dumb to notice the earth all around them. Whatever it is, they were just waiting for someone to come and give them a rousing speech. When what should have happened was, Aang reassures them that if they fight and help drive off the fire troops, he will ensure their loved ones will be protected. And that reassurance is what gives them the confidence to act.

They didn't need to not be scared, Katara; they just didn't want their kids' heads chopped off.
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Re: I Watch Avatar: The Last Airbender S2 and Post My Thoughts About It

Post by Mechanical Ape (?) » Fri Nov 26, 2021 11:39 pm

I guess we're a third done now? Hoo boy.

31:14 For helping (by saying "Don't be afraid!"), Katara earns a reward in the form of a waterbending scroll. This could not be more transparently "quest loot" if it came in a chest in exchange for thirty rat scalps. But whatever, now we can expect Katara to perform cool stunts in future scenes. I'm sure that won't end up horribly disappointing or anything.

Also in this film, all scrolls are in perfect mint condition with no crinkles or tears or fading, no matter how ancient they are.

31:27 "This was you, when you were born an earthbender two lifetimes ago." I am pretty sure this is the first time it's mentioned the Avatar belongs to a line of reincarnations, and it feels like if you wanted to mention it now, then you should've established it more explicitly earlier. Because this too must be horribly confusing to newcomers. It also doesn't help that they gave this exposition to someone with a really thick accent. Don't get me wrong, he seems like a sweet old man, it's just hard to follow his dialogue.

32:25 While it's true in the cartoon that Aang ran away because of losing the old life he loved, here the dialogue goes out of its way to note that the Avatar can't have a family. This is different from the cartoon, where the Avatar can, and frequently does, fuck. And I'm not sure why the film would introduce this detail, unless it's some misguided attempt to borrow from Jedi drama. Because everyone loved the prequels!

33:00 Here's what feels like the end of Act 1, with the decision to master all four elements and help innocents along the way. We're in comfortable territory here.

33:40 Do-gooder montage! Again we see the shitty long shots and absurd fight non-choreography. The bending in this film takes so much dancing and flipping to hurl just one rock or gust of wind, it barely seems worth it. And it really shows when the target has to stand there for like ten seconds while they wait for Aang to finish his attack animation. It seems cheaper and easier to just use a bow and arrow, or possibly throw a rock with your actual hands.

Again, there are choreographers who can arrange complex fights that also look like beautiful dances. But none of them were consulted for this film.

34:00

aang: waves hands over stream, nothing happens
katara: waves hands over stream, nothing happens

KATARA V.O.: "Aang was having trouble with waterbending"

34:20

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Credit where it's due: this is a really nice shot. The colors are striking and it doesn't look cheap as fuck.

34:51 Here we're introduced to Fire Lord Ozai, I guess. He just looks like a dude. I guess we can't all be blessed with Mark Hamill's voice, but still.

Here it's explained that the Fire Nation has discovered where the Ocean Spirit and Moon Spirit live (also that there exist such things as the Ocean Spirit and Moon Spirit) and if I were a newcomer this is where I would check the fuck out forever. This exact moment. Because I would have seen a lot of confusing shit in the last 35 minutes, and now I'm supposed to care about the housing conditions of the goddamn Moon Spirit and Ocean Spirit, whom I am just now hearing about, and any normal human brain would at this point say "Nope" and downshift to thinking about sudoku or Iggy Azalea or stray nostril hairs for the next 60 minutes.

36:08 For every detail this film leaves unexplained which should be explained, there's a detail that gets explained which didn't need to be. We've been getting chyrons saying "Southern Earth Kingdom" or "Fire Nation Colony Fifteen" and it's not really important where these scenes are happening. There are needy villagers and Fire Nation soldiers everywhere, these scenes could be happening anywhere in the world and we don't really need to be told specifically where. Especially since these details are not useful. Thanks for letting me know this is Fire Nation Colony Fifteen, what the fuck is that supposed to mean me? How does it help me to know this? Hey, wasn't there a dragon earlier? Can we go back to that?

36:34 Here is where Uncle Iroh starts doing his bit about how Zuko should maybe stop hunting the Avatar and settle down and enjoy life. That's consistent with the Iroh we know from the TV show, but the movie hasn't established this aspect of his personality (or any aspect of his personality, really) so it feels like a non sequitur for him to bring it up. Why is one of the villains suddenly talking about giving up the quest?

Then Zuko calls over a child, who comes up to him (as any smart kid should when addressed by a furtive stranger in a black robe), and for the second goddamn time we have a random character expositing about Zuko's shameful past. At this point I'm wondering if this is some weird fetish on Zuko's part. Look, movie, we don't need any more explanation of Zuko's motivation to hunt the Avatar. It's been addressed in excruciating detail. If anything, we need explanation of Iroh's weird motivation to not hunt the Avatar.

37:36 Now here we get a flashback to Zuko's Agni Kai duel. So, now that we know the film isn't averse to flashbacks, why isn't Zuko's whole backstory told this way? Why tap random characters to recite stories Zuko already knows? Instead, have one flashback. The audience gets to see his backstory. Then we move on.

38:40 Aang's earlier vision of the spirit dragon gets mentioned. But if this is a motivation for a journey now, then why wasn't it before? This should have been brought up earlier and added to the "to do" list.

katara: aang wants to commune with his spirit dragon, it might help him unlock his full potential and save the world
sokka: sounds boring. try to talk him out of it

39:03 Aang has the power to make little fountains spout up. If this Avatar gig doesn't pan out, he can always get a job in front of the Bellagio.

40:24

Image

Another very nice shot. If you didn't know better, you could almost believe the film knew what it was doing.

43:00 Hey, I'm kind of digging this temple scene. Aang goes to the hall of statues of past Avatars and it looks just fine. The old man is kindly, puts in a good performance, and it's a genuine surprise to see his treachery. There's emotional weight too, as he feels betrayed by the Avatar's absence (which is fair enough, it's nice to see consequences of Aang's abandonment of his destiny, expressed in a direct and personal way). And the TV show is full of Earth Kingdom people whom the grind of an endless losing war has turned into assholes, so this is very on theme.

That said, they cheaped out on not showing Aang actually getting captured.

44:03 So all Aang's vision taught him was that he should go to the Northern Water Tribe -- where they were already headed before Aang detoured to have his vision.

45:00 Aaaaaaaand here's another element this version probably doesn't need, the Blue Demon.

47:30 Okay, Aang using his knowledge of the temple to draw the fight into the old obstacle course, where he can dominate everyone because he trained there, that's a really fun idea. And we get a fight with choreography! I don't really have any complaints here.

I like Zhao in this film, by the way. I said earlier he was unnecessary but I've really warmed to him.
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Re: I Watch Avatar: The Last Airbender S2 and Post My Thoughts About It

Post by Mechanical Ape (?) » Sat Nov 27, 2021 12:00 am

52:00 Ozai's throne room is well-appointed, but it needs more flames. I love how the cartoon went balls out and just made it all fire.

52:15 Weirdly we're not given a shot of the Fire Lord's face, even though we saw it perfectly well in an earlier scene so it's not as if they're building up mystery.

55:45 "My brother and the princess became friends right away." More narration for shit that should be shown not told, and in fact was shown perfectly well by the performances. Shut up, Katara.

57:38 The Fire Nation is surprisingly lush and green. That's not a complaint, mind you, just interesting.

59:12 The water-sparring scene is pretty fun, the way the trainer guy does a hacky-sack thing with his water ball. Why couldn't the other bending scenes in the film be like this? Why did they set it up where some bending moves require these dumb, interminable dance sequences when they clearly didn't need to make the film that way?

1:01 Jeepers, this Sokka and Princess Yue scene. Their romance in the cartoon was already a bit strained, but here -- well, it's positively Attack of the Clones. Sokka's padawan haircut isn't helping matters.
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Re: I Watch Avatar: The Last Airbender S2 and Post My Thoughts About It

Post by Mechanical Ape (?) » Sat Nov 27, 2021 4:35 pm

Back at it!

1:04 I noticed the snow turning to black ash the same time the characters did so, well done movie, this scene worked for me.

1:06 Sometimes they will CGI Momo in as an afterthought. Now it's true that in the cartoon Momo rarely did anything important, but at least the characters acknowledged his presence. Here he's just occasionally painted onto a scene like a decal. (EDIT: Oh wait Aang just acknowledged him, never mind)

1:08 Katara addressing Zuko as "the Fire Lord's son ... you took [Aang] from our village" is a reminder that these two characters have no history like they did at this point in the cartoon. From Team Aang's POV he hasn't been a recurring antagonist, just a dude who showed up for a minute at the beginning.

1:10 The water soldiers line up on the wall and this? Is Helm's Deep as fuck. I can't tell if they were intentionally going for that or whether every movie siege after 2002 is always going to be compared to Helm's Deep. But I suspect it's the first one since they made the Water Tribe guy look just like Theoden. Except instead of a rousing speech about the horse and the rider, he just goes "OoooooooOOooOooooooo".

1:11 I've said this before, but nothing's more annoying than the lack of direction for background characters. During fight scenes you see soldiers who are just standing there swinging their swords around. Absolutely no one told these extras what they were supposed to be doing.

1:12 Spirit Dragon to Aang: "You are not dealing with the loss of your people and your responsibility for their deaths. You are stopping yourself from grieving; you are angry. You must let this go." I don't know what the fuck this means. Should Aang grieve and acknowledge his fault, or should he let go of his baggage and move on? Stupid dragon. And then his practical advice boils down to "try waterbending". Yeah thanks.

1:15 Okay, Aang avoiding Zuko by standing directly behind him is a fun bit of physical humor. You get a half a gold star for that, movie. Also Zuko and Aang's actors are doing their own stunts.

1:20 Stabbing fish in a bag is as easy as shooting fish in a barrel.

1:21

Image

I dunno, maybe this looked cool in storyboarding.

Who am I kidding, they didn't storyboard this turkey.

1:23 It's a minor quibble but maybe not: in the cartoon, Princess Yue's decision to give her life for the Moon Spirit is all her idea, whereas here it's Iroh who tells her what to do. Yue is a minor character but this is her big moment; the agency ought to be hers. Anyway, then we get more sub-Attack of the Clones mush.
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Re: I Watch Avatar: The Last Airbender S2 and Post My Thoughts About It

Post by Mechanical Ape (?) » Sat Nov 27, 2021 5:30 pm

1:27 They trap Zhao in a bubble of water and watch him asphyxiate. Hard core.

1:28 Look. Just look at this shit.

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I've played minigolf courses with better set design.

1:30 Now once again, they screw up the timing: the moon is restored so the Water Tribe are already winning the battle, and Zhao is dead. The tension's released. There's no dramatic weight to Aang going Avatar State now. On the TV show he did that after the death of the Moon Spirit, the moment when all hope seemed lost. Here he's just mopping up after the battle is decided.

I'll give credit, though: Aang doesn't drown the Fire Nation ships like I expected he would. The script remembered the Spirit Dragon saying earlier that it's not the Avatar's job to hurt people, and Aang's actions in this scene are consistent with that. It's a low bar to clear, but well done, movie.

1:34 And that's the final shot of the movie, everyone bowing to Aang who does a little dance. Now ... is he supposed to be bowing back? Because that's what this has all been leading up to. When Aang was identified as the Avatar the Air Monks bowed to him, and instead of bowing back, he fled. And he feels guilty about that. So him bowing back at the end of this scene would be the resolution to that. Aang is now ready to accept his role as Avatar. A fine cap to his character arc.

Except I genuinely cannot tell whether he's doing a bow or just some random kata. I guess it's a bow. It just doesn't much look like one. I shouldn't have this much ambiguity over the final shot.

1:35 Azula. No one cares.

----------

So what have we learned from all this? Not a goddamn thing. M. Night went the route of adapting Season 1, and this is tricky not just because if you fail to secure a trilogy (as happened here) then you have nothing remotely close to a resolution. Ask Ralph Bakshi how that worked out for him. But also, S1's climax has a built-in snag in that the resolution comes from a side character (Princess Yue) whom we barely know and who is introduced two episodes prior. That's good enough for an episodic TV show, but making it the climax of what may be your one and only feature film ... eh, it's iffy. Probably should change that in your screenplay. This film didn't. In fact it went the other way and made Aang even less pivotal to the battle.

Basically The Last Airbender is M. Night Shyamalan looking at the Star Wars prequels and saying "Yeah, let's do it that way." In 2010. A:TLA has always drawn inspiration from Star Wars, but usually the better parts. This film is a parade of poor decisions which are genuinely baffling. I have to give Shyamalan the blame since his name's on every aspect of the project; besides, how else could a finished product be this bad unless it's the result of a single auteur in control of everything and insulated from feedback? Say what you will about moviemaking by committee, but no committee would have let this gobbler escape to screens in this state.

If I were to pick -- among the many options -- the two aspects that irritated me most, it's 1) the lack of direction given to the performers, who very clearly can't tell where the camera is or what will be CGI'd later, and who are left to flounder and react to nothing (this is all on the director); and 2) the inept way that plot elements are set up and explained (and this is all on the writer). And the director and the writer are the same person. Again, Shyamalan has made competent films before, even good films; he shouldn't be failing in this particular way. It's as if he'd forgotten things he used to know about how to make a movie.

In the end this is the worst thing an adaptation can do: one which makes new audiences less interested in checking out the original work.
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Re: I Watch Avatar: The Last Airbender S2 and Post My Thoughts About It

Post by Mechanical Ape (?) » Sat Nov 27, 2021 5:34 pm

Now, I've heard there's somebody named Korra and they have a legend.
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Re: I Watch Avatar: The Last Airbender S2 and Post My Thoughts About It

Post by DaikatunaRevengeance (?) » Sat Nov 27, 2021 5:48 pm

sometimes it feel like shyamalan had a few good movies in him and then just lost the ability to make movies
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;) ❤️ :twasnothin: ❤️ :fancyhat:

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Re: I Watch Avatar: The Last Airbender S2 and Post My Thoughts About It

Post by SlateSlabrock (?) » Sun Nov 28, 2021 2:11 am

DaikatunaRevengeance wrote:
Sat Nov 27, 2021 5:48 pm
sometimes it feel like shyamalan had a few good movies in him and then just lost the ability to make movies

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Re: I Watch Avatar: The Last Airbender S2 and Post My Thoughts About It

Post by Adiwan (?) » Sun Nov 28, 2021 11:02 am

The film is bad but the music is mostly solid and the music during the avatar state is great.
But I know that the music lacks the character the animated series had.
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Re: I Watch Avatar: The Last Airbender S2 and Post My Thoughts About It

Post by Mechanical Ape (?) » Wed Nov 22, 2023 8:25 pm

There's a legend, there's a korra, and one or both of these things are super gay.

That's basically all I know about this show going in.

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Episode 1: Welcome to Republic City

Intro. What we learn: Aang fucks and his sperm is so mighty his kid is J.K. Simmons. However, Aang has gone to the great beyond and his reincarnation, four-year-old Korra, gets the goddamn greatest character intro since Richard Crenna said "God didn't make Rambo, I made him."

Katara ain't out of the picture, she's a gran-gran and an all-around cool boomer. RIP Sokka.

Oh good, industrialization! Just what the world needs! But it means the city is full of things we haven't seen before and that makes us, the audience, newcomers just like Korra.

And rule #1: being a wandering magical do-gooder (I will coin the term "benderhobo") was a fine lifestyle 50 years ago, but not here in Republic City.

This is quite a change from the original format: instead of wandering over the whole setting, the action is staying put in one city. Hey, this is the Deep Space Nine of Avatar! Happy to be following this world again.
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Re: I Watch Avatar: The Last Airbender S2 and Post My Thoughts About It

Post by Adiwan (?) » Thu Nov 23, 2023 1:04 am

Ah... Korra... The show was a wild ride. I watched it as it has been broadcasted and the inconsistent releases and then the digital streaming release strategy of Nickelodeon was... strange. It never got the chance to have the audience as Aang.

Despite of that the show was great with the exception with an episode here and there but excusable given the problems the creators had.

AND THE ANIMATION! It still awes me how great the fights are. Not only are they spectacular but also so dynamic and smooth and creative.
ALSO THE BACKGROUNDS! Most people give a crap about backgrounds but I really dig them. In this show they are all so beautiful and the thick impressionistic brush strokes give a lot of personality to each scene.

The gayness is practically non-existent. Temper your expectations. She flirts a little but the show but that's it. The Korra comics are WAY GAYER in comparison and also very good.
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Re: I Watch Avatar: The Last Airbender S2 and Post My Thoughts About It

Post by Mechanical Ape (?) » Fri Nov 24, 2023 9:46 pm

S1E2: Everyone learns in a different way. For some it's quiet contemplation, for others it's jumping straight into a professional sporting tournament you know nothing about! They took the effort to make it seem like a real sport with rules and stuff. Better than Quidditch that's for sure.

We meat dreamy Mako (nice) a presumptive love interest.
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Re: I Watch Avatar: The Last Airbender S2 and Post My Thoughts About It

Post by SlateSlabrock (?) » Sat Nov 25, 2023 12:33 am

The creators were really proud of all the effort they put into Pro-Bending's rules.

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Re: I Watch Avatar: The Last Airbender S2 and Post My Thoughts About It

Post by Adiwan (?) » Sat Nov 25, 2023 4:01 pm

There is also a Pro-Bending board game for all the Pro-Bending purposes at home
https://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/230 ... ding-arena

Also the TLOK video game has Pro-Bending as a game mode.
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Re: I Watch Avatar: The Last Airbender S2 and Post My Thoughts About It

Post by Mechanical Ape (?) » Sun Nov 26, 2023 12:04 am

This all delights me so much, you have no idea.
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Re: I Watch Avatar: The Last Airbender S2 and Post My Thoughts About It

Post by Mechanical Ape (?) » Sat Dec 02, 2023 9:41 pm

S1E3: If you'd told me a year ago there'd be a motorcycle chase scene in my Avatar-verse, I'd have been like huh

what

Also yeah, we get our first glimpse of real fight scenes and they're excellent.
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Re: I Watch Avatar: The Last Airbender S2 and Post My Thoughts About It

Post by Mechanical Ape (?) » Sun Dec 03, 2023 11:34 pm

S1E4: I don't blame Korra for being scared, heck, this episode even scared me.

We meet another named character, Asami (hope I got that right) and Councilman Tekken (I know I didn't get that right).

This episode had a very noir feel to it.
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Re: I Watch Avatar: The Last Airbender S2 and Post My Thoughts About It

Post by Mechanical Ape (?) » Sun Dec 24, 2023 4:24 pm

I love the "Previously" recaps with newsreel guy.

S1E5: Korra confesses without stretching it out over 3-4 seasons. Mako is polite but firm. Bolin becomes rebound guy. There's betrayal, heartbreak, hard feelings and eating green noodles as a substitute for being drunk and if you ask me, all of this is Salami's fault.

Meanwhile the team overall gains a rival as the most anime villain ever struts onto the scene.
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Re: I Watch Avatar: The Last Airbender S2 and Post My Thoughts About It

Post by Mechanical Ape (?) » Tue Dec 26, 2023 9:37 pm

S1E6: The Wolf Bats were cheating assholes but they didn't deserve to get de-bended. :applejargh:

This episode pulled a neat trick, which was giving the match so much drama that we momentarily forget Amon is going to show up, even though they established it earlier. Then they have an absolutely badass fight scene in and above the arena. There's a blimp and everything.

And now, the empty feeling that follows the end of pro bending season. :fluttersmith:
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Re: I Watch Avatar: The Last Airbender S2 and Post My Thoughts About It

Post by Mechanical Ape (?) » Sat Dec 30, 2023 9:18 pm

S1E7: Even Cabbage Vendor's descendants can't catch a break. :cry:

The cast go racing! In cars! Unbeknownst to Korra, Salami is actually her older sister Sami Racer who ran away from home years ago and is now known as the Masked Racer!

Korra is really jumping to conclusions with blaming Salami's dad for everything, although I guess the last episode rattled her badly enough that she's not thinking clearly. Also she's still jealous as balls.

There's something really hilarious about cops scouting around in gun-carrying positions except they're not carrying guns, they've just got their hands for bending.

They're building Big Daddies! :sweetielarm: But where the hell are they getting all this platinum from? Did Mr. Sato tow an asteroid?

Every time I start to think Chief Beifong is incompetent, she does something incredibly badass that resets my expectations.
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Re: I Watch Avatar: The Last Airbender S2 and Post My Thoughts About It

Post by Mechanical Ape (?) » Sun Dec 31, 2023 2:51 pm

S1E8: Shit gets real as Tarrlok goes mask off evil, we get a car chase AND a bending duel, bloodbending returns, and Salami is so cool I might start using her real name.
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Re: I Watch Avatar: The Last Airbender S2 and Post My Thoughts About It

Post by Mechanical Ape (?) » Sun Dec 31, 2023 6:53 pm

S1E9: We learn a whole lot of stuff and a whole lot of stuff happens. Everyone gets freed from prison except Tarrlok, who is presumably headed for Equalist Jail or maybe regular jail, depending on what Amon does with him. We get more than a glimpse of grownup Aang, Toph and yay Sokka! And everyone is badass in a way it's tough for me to even process. A+ episode.
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Re: I Watch Avatar: The Last Airbender S2 and Post My Thoughts About It

Post by Mechanical Ape (?) » Sun Dec 31, 2023 8:10 pm

They took the time to establish that Aang could remove a bender’s ability. So it would be a wild ride if it turned out Amon is the real Avatar (a self-hating Avatar?) and Korra is just some really talented bender.

This would explain why Korra can’t airbend, but it doesn’t really work because we’ve seen her commune with her last reincarnation and, obviously too, she can bend 3 elements. It’d be wild though.
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Re: I Watch Avatar: The Last Airbender S2 and Post My Thoughts About It

Post by Mechanical Ape (?) » Mon Jan 01, 2024 10:59 pm

SE10: Yes, a Fire Nation fleet is coming to help. :shepspike:
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Re: I Watch Avatar: The Last Airbender S2 and Post My Thoughts About It

Post by Mechanical Ape (?) » Mon Jan 01, 2024 11:53 pm

S1E11-12: And that wraps up this story arc, with an absolutely brutal exit for Amon and Tarrlok. Korra goes Avatar Mode and I guess everything is tied up neatly! Honestly the show could just end here. The only leftover thread is that Salami's been jilted by her man and she isn't going to take it well.
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Re: I Watch Avatar: The Last Airbender S2 and Post My Thoughts About It

Post by Adiwan (?) » Tue Jan 02, 2024 9:36 am

Thankfully there are more seasons to watch and comics to read!

I believe I read that it was made such that the first season had an end but then it got suddenly renewed, which led to tons of problems in the production in season 2 and beyond, like the erratic release of new episodes and (especially in season 2) different animation studios working on episodes. Personally I didn't notice the animation quality difference on release but in hindsight it's noticeable. I watched the episodes in 360p potato quality back then. It's still good but given the high quality on display. The visually lesser ones would have been still very good on any other animated show and no one would complain.
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Re: I Watch Avatar: The Last Airbender S2 and Post My Thoughts About It

Post by Mechanical Ape (?) » Sun Jan 07, 2024 12:41 pm

S2E1: The SPIRITS season. :ghost: Which is a thing I didn't even know we needed, but now that the topic's been broached it's pretty obvious we haven't had much spiritual content yet, and it makes sense Korra would need to know that stuff.

New worldbuilding, new characters, new conflicts and a kickass fight scene. What more could I ask from a season opener?
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Re: I Watch Avatar: The Last Airbender S2 and Post My Thoughts About It

Post by SlateSlabrock (?) » Sun Jan 07, 2024 12:58 pm

Adiwan wrote:
Tue Jan 02, 2024 9:36 am
I believe I read that it was made such that the first season had an end but then it got suddenly renewed, which led to tons of problems in the production in season 2 and beyond, like the erratic release of new episodes and (especially in season 2) different animation studios working on episodes.
The original plan was to write Korra as a mini-series, and then if they got renewed, they could just crank out new seasons with new stories. That might've backfired a bit when they realized they were definitely going to need to crank out several more seasons.

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Re: I Watch Avatar: The Last Airbender S2 and Post My Thoughts About It

Post by Mechanical Ape (?) » Sat Jan 13, 2024 6:21 pm

S2E2-4: Sibling rivalry ruins everything. There are a lot of siblings in this show and the only ones who don't hate each other are Mako/Bolin and the creepy twins.
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Re: I Watch Avatar: The Last Airbender S2 and Post My Thoughts About It

Post by Mechanical Ape (?) » Sun Jan 14, 2024 10:37 pm

S2E5: Military interventions, terrorism, propaganda and profiteering. Remember when this setting was really simple? You had an evil army of bad guys and the hardest lesson was learning that girls could fight and dudes could wear makeup. Korra would've thrived in that era, unfortunately she lives in this one.
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Re: I Watch Avatar: The Last Airbender S2 and Post My Thoughts About It

Post by Adiwan (?) » Fri Feb 23, 2024 8:12 am

The first season of the ATLA live-action series is out. 8 episodes full of compromises. I don't mean it in a bad way. I do not want to think about what they had to do to make it possible for children to act alongside with scenes with heavy CGI involvement necessary.
The cast is mostly good. Zuko is a stand-out of the children's cast and Zhao from the adult cast in my opinion. I'm not fully convinced of the casting of Azula but that was just the beginning of her more extreme development.
No matter what it is at least a great companion piece to the animated series and a fun way to remember the story, as well as a neat brain exercise trying to find the differences.
I was certainly entertained enough and like to see what they will do the next seasons.
"The knack of flying is learning how to throw yourself at the ground and miss." - Douglas Adams

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