Avatar: The Last Airbender – The DVDfever Review – Netflix – Gordon Cormier, Kiawentiio

Avatar: The Last Airbender Avatar: The Last Airbender takes the fantasy tale from the animated series, and turns it into a live-action one, which could’ve possibly been a risky move, given that the last outing for Aang & co. was in the 2010 movie, The Last Airbender – the title having to omit the ‘Avatar’ part, because of the 2009 James Cameron movie, but it only started the books, and planned to continue with more, but didn’t exactly set the box office alight, since it took $320m on a $150m budget, and a film needs to take up to 3 times its budget to break even, taking marketing into account.

However, these days, longform series are all the rage, and a drama like this is likely to do very well indeed.

NOTE: While I won’t give away any plot-points, since I don’t want to give spoilers, I will discuss some elements of the show, but I’ll keep it to the basics.

I can’t begin to be an expert in understanding what goes on in this programme most of the time, but it’s safe to say that in the opening battle where one man fights an army, that individual if an Earthbender, and can tear up the ground in order to throw the results at the baddies… Now I know why there’s so many potholes in Stockport(!)

Meanwhile, the Highness, Fire Lord Ozai (Daniel Dae Kim), wants to kill the biggest of the avatars, the next of which will be an airbender. Step forward, Aang (Gordon Cormier), and as the avatar, he’ll have to master all four elements – Air, Water, Fire and Wind. Not bad for someone who’s been trapped in ice for the last 100 years, because of a comet.

Alas, since the Highness wants to kill the avatar, yet doesn’t know who he or she is, he’ll happily bump all of them off in the meantime. So, he’s basically Benjamin Netanyahu bombing Gaza on a whim.

Cue an adventure with a lot of random fisticuffs, martials arts dancing about, and Aang riding his ‘sky bison’ Appa, which flies through the air like Falkor in The Neverending Story. Plus, a man name Gyatso (Lim Kay Siu) trained Aang before the mantle is effectively passed on to Katara (Kiawentiio), as they go off on their adventures, before long with Southern Water Tribe Warrior Sokka (Ian Ousley) in tow.

Katara is a Waterbender and, to sound a bit like something from Little Britain, she’s literally “the only waterbender in the village”. To that end, of course, the return of these characters means that we can, once again, giggle like a five-year-old at some of the dialogue. An example in the 2010 movie saw an old woman telling Katara, “I knew, for the first time we discovered you were a Bender”.

And this time, there’s a conversation that includes:

    Sokka: “You’re not even a bender, you’re the fiercest fighter I’ve ever met.”
    Suki: “Not being a bender means we have to be even better than benders.”

So, the dialogue is quite playful and amusing, with a lot of modern parlance in it, such as how there’s obviously a frisson between Sokka and cute Kyoshi Warrior Suki (Maria Zhang), and when she creeps up on him at one point, he reacts, “Somebody ought to put a bell on you(!)”

On the side of evil are Prince Danny Zuko (Dallas Liu) and Commander Zhao (Ken Leung), both of whom are after Aang, and you know they’re bad dudes because they spend the entire time snarling.

I could watch Avatar: The Last Airbender for Suki alone, but there’s also great special effects, such as with Katara’s waterbending, as she improves her skills; and I’ve not seen the animated series on which this is based – although all of that is on Netflix, and I understand it covers all the books, so that will clearly be what they’re aiming for. And based on the first two episodes that I’ve seen so far, I’d say that’s a shoe-in.

Avatar: The Last Airbender is not available to pre-order on Blu-ray or DVD, but is on Netflix from today.

Avatar: The Last Airbender – Official Trailer – Netflix

Detailed specs:

Running time: 50-70 minutes per episode (8 episodes)
Release date: February 22nd 2024
Studio: Netflix
Format: 2.39:1

Series Directors: Michael Goi, Roseanne Liang, Jabbar Raisani, Jet Wilkinson
Based on the animated series by: Michael Dante DiMartino, Bryan Konietzko
Creator: Albert Kim
Writers: Albert Kim, Audrey Wong Kennedy, Keely MacDonald, Christine Boylan, Joshua Hale Fialkov,
Emily Kim, Gabriel Llanas, Ubah Mohamed, Hunter Ries
Music: Takeshi Furukawa

Aang: Gordon Cormier
Katara: Kiawentiio
Sokka: Ian Ousley
Suki: Maria Zhang
Prince Zuko: Dallas Liu
Uncle Iroh: Paul Sun-Hyung Lee
Fire Lord Ozai: Daniel Dae Kim
Lieutenant Jee: Ruy Iskandar
Commander Zhao: Ken Leung
Gyatso: Lim Kay Siu
Azula: Elizabeth Yu
Kyoshi: Yvonne Chapman
Appa: Matthew Yang King
Gran Gran: Casey Camp-Horinek
Cabbage Merchant: James Sie
The Mechanist: Danny Pudi
Mai: Thalia Tran
Ty Lee: Momona Tamada
Yukari: Tamlyn Tomita
King Bumi: Utkarsh Ambudkar
June: Arden Cho
Jet: Sebastian Amoruso
Teo: Lucian-River Chauhan