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Bernhardt Feb 11, 2010

http://movies.yahoo.com/feature/movie-t … vatar.html

Dropping "Avatar" in order to avoid confusion with the James Cameron flick is idiotic, especially when it's part of the original title of the show, and perhaps being confused with the James Cameron movie would actually draw attention to it, anyway. Besides, Last Airbender was Avatar before Cameron's Avatar was Avatar...

Using Caucasians for the roles of the characters makes it seem inauthentic, but the trailer showed it as being really true to the animated series; as a matter of fact, it rather looks like a direct adaptation of the animation to live action with SFX...like, a direct word-for-word adaptation.

I'll probably still go see it, though; definitely dig the TV series; should pick it up on DVD boxset sometime...

Wanderer Feb 11, 2010

The animated series is terrific. The movie looks... like it won't be. With Shyamalan, I'm hoping it's at least watchable.

Ashley Winchester Feb 11, 2010 (edited Feb 11, 2010)

That's extremely lame. I'll admit the cartoon is actually pretty good, it's one of the better things Nickelodeon has done in the past few years.

They need to quit sucking on the teet of movie IP's though: Speed Racer? Really? Iron Man? Seriously? X-Men? There've been better and I actually liked Evolution.

Still, their own IPs suck anymore: they need to kill off the Fairly Oddparents (again!) and Spongebob - the new episodes are that bad. Bring back Danny Phantom or at least put it and some of the better cartoons on DVD already: Ah! Real Monsters, Rocko, Action League Now, etc.

Ticks me off that they made a big deal about Spongebob's 10th Birthday and there isn't 10 seasons of it. They really have no concept of what a "season" is.

Edit:

Guess I should have posted this earlier: RANT AHEAD!

Boco Feb 11, 2010

It's hard to tell if the live action film will be good or not, but I'm hoping it will be. Shyamalan is actually a pretty skilled director and if he sticks close to the original story then this film might turn out pretty cool. The acting choices were definitely not what I was expecting, but I'm not too bothered by it. If they do a good job then I couldn't care less about their nationality.

Anyway, I won't go in expecting a 5 star film, but I'll definitely be hoping for 3. It should be a good time. big_smile

SonicPanda Feb 11, 2010 (edited Feb 11, 2010)

Ashley Winchester wrote:

Still, their own IPs suck anymore: they need to kill off the Fairly Oddparents (again!) and Spongebob - the new episodes are that bad. Bring back Danny Phantom or at least put it and some of the better cartoons on DVD already: Ah! Real Monsters, Rocko, Action League Now, etc.

Ticks me off that they made a big deal about Spongebob's 10th Birthday and there isn't 10 seasons of it. They really have no concept of what a "season" is.

Two things here - first, it's always bad to assume that bringing back old series will lead to the same level of quality, and it's my understanding fans were unsatisfied with where DP was going anyway. DVD releases of the older stuff would be nice, though.

Secondly, the idea of 'seasons' in television being annual blocks of new episodes isn't universal. There are some British series, for instance, that went on for 10 years with fewer than 50 episodes by the end. At least the 10th anniversary is an authetic milestone, as opposed to a single first-run episode hailed as a primetime event with accompanying Burger King toys.

As far as Avatar goes, I'm not very familiar with the cartoon (I avoid serialized stories until they've ended; nothing's worse than getting hooked on one with bad ratings where you'll never see the resolution), but Shyamalan is a red flag for me, personally. The conclusion of Lady in the Water is one of the most shameless things I've seen in a movie. But if the cartoon's worth looking into, I'll give it a shot.

Boco Feb 12, 2010

SonicPanda wrote:

But if the cartoon's worth looking into, I'll give it a shot.

I highly recommend it. Avatar is one of the best things that's happened to western animation in a long time. The series has finished its run and can easily be found on DVD. It was collected into three DVD sets or "books". The price is a little steep (about $45 per set), but I'd say it's well worth it and if you shop around you should be able to find a better price.

Angela Jun 4, 2010 (edited Jun 4, 2010)

I've started watching the cartoon series for the first time, and I'm having a blast with it.  Maybe it's because the upcoming movie trailers paint a darker, more bleaker tone, but I was taken aback at how genuinely comedic the show really is.  I'm just a couple episodes into Book 1, but there have been more laugh-out-loud moments than I could count.  Aang is such a silly, optimistic kid, and any scene that involves Sokka's blowhard swagger is fodder for chuckles.

I hope to finish up Book 1 before the movie hits.  James Newton Howard's onboard for compositional duties, by the way.  Oh, and that Art of The Animated Series book that Boco gave a heads-up on is now in stock at Amazon.

Boco Jun 5, 2010

Angela wrote:

Maybe it's because the upcoming movie trailers paint a darker, more bleaker tone, but I was taken aback at how genuinely comedic the show really is.

My sister immediately noticed that same thing and was actually a little put off by it (she liked the light-hearted nature of the TV show). I kind of expected the movie to go that route though. After all, comedy is easy to cut out and action sells well on the big screen. Even so, I'm still pretty excited about the movie. It should be an exciting time and I can always go back to the TV show for the original story. :3

Definitely looking forward James Newton Howard's score. He generally does a great job and this epic, fantasy setting should be a good fit for him. I'm hoping he takes this opportunity to create some great themes and leitmotifs. If all goes well, then he could be looking at scoring a trilogy and that would be fantastic!

Also, glad you're enjoying the series, Angela. I love all of it, but I think it definitely gets better as it goes on. The finale to book one is wonderful and book two rounds out the cast and really develops the story. Looking forward to your thoughts on each book when you finish them.

brandonk Jun 5, 2010 (edited Jun 5, 2010)

James Newton Howard - anyone ever heard the "James Newton Howard & Friends" album?  It's not like his soundtrack work so don't get too excited if that's what you're expecting, but it is one of the all-time great instrumental 'band' CD's, featuring 1/3'rd of the band Toto (two keyboard players and drummer) as well as JNH.  It's 3 keyboard players, and drums / percussion (no guitar no acoustic bass).  It was at the time a demo for Yamaha keyboards (circa 1983) as well as a recording technique which allowed full digital (no analog) recording.  Because the players were so good, they recorded the performance 'direct to disc' (i.e. one take, live) and were able to achieve extremely high quality recording for at the time. (I seem to recall many stereo shops using "Sheffield Labs" (the record company that released the album) releases to test and demo stereos).  Do they even have stereo shops anymore?  I guess everyone gets their stereo's at Fry's or Best Buy these days -

Anyway, it was one of my favorite records / cds growing up.  Here are 4 of the 6 tunes.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cEJESVS6nso

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DKyDDvzaIc8

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WCudWjuBb_Y

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0B0umYolJsw

Angela Jun 12, 2010

Just finished up Book One, and I thoroughly enjoyed it from start to finish.  Great animation, slick looking fight sequences (I dig how each of the bending techniques are inspired by Chinese martial arts), and smart character development.  But again, it's the show's comedic bend that truly makes it for me; I can only hope that particular aspect doesn't dwindle as the series moves forward and the war continues.

I especially like how nearly every episode introduces a colorful new character to the mix.  June from Episode 15's "Bato of The Water Tribe" and <spoiler!>.....Bumi from Episode 5's "The King of Omashu" are particular highlights; I'm sincerely hoping the latter returns for Books Two and Three, because he is a FREAKEN GOD AMONG MEN. big_smile 

I think I'm adequately equipped to head into the upcoming movie, but I hope to make some leeway into the next two seasons before that.  Filmtracks has their review up on Howard's soundtrack, by the way.  The long and short of it appears to be that it's thematically lacking, but masterful in its instrumentation and harmony.  Sounds like a score that may work best in context.

Oh yes, and my copy of The Art of The Animated Series arrived as well.  Got some samples up in the art book thread.

Katara: Take care, Meng.
Meng: [sweetly] Take care!
Meng:...... Floozy.

Boco Jun 12, 2010

Don't worry about the comedy. There's plenty to look forward to in books two and three. And there are some wonderful new characters to look forward to as well (including my favorite). Avatar is rare both in its quality and its consistency. I kept waiting for the show to break down (as so many do), but that never happened. It truly is a remarkable show. big_smile

Angela Jun 14, 2010

Boco wrote:

Don't worry about the comedy. There's plenty to look forward to in books two and three. And there are some wonderful new characters to look forward to as well (including my favorite).

I've made a mini-marathon out of watching Book Two since I last posted on Saturday.  The series has become absurdly good, and I'm already up to episode 10.  Allow me to venture a guess as to your favorite character: is it.....  .......Toph?  Because she already destroys every other character introduced up to this point.  The earthbenders truly do rock, both literally and figuratively. smile

I'm really enjoying Zuko's story arc, too.  They really lay bare his past in Episode 7, proving that he's got the most nuances and complexity of any character so far.  I can't wait to see where his journey leads him.

Boco Jun 14, 2010

Angela wrote:

Allow me to venture a guess as to your favorite character: is it.....  .......Toph?  Because she already destroys every other character introduced up to this point.  The earthbenders truly do rock, both literally and figuratively. smile

That's correct! I was never a fan of earth / rock as an element. I was always more of a water / ice kind of guy. Avatar totally changed that though. After book two I was completely sold on earthbenders and the earth element. So awesome!

Ashley Winchester Jun 14, 2010

Angela wrote:

I'm really enjoying Zuko's story arc, too.  They really lay bare his past in Episode 7, proving that he's got the most nuances and complexity of any character so far.  I can't wait to see where his journey leads him.

You probably wouldn't expect a ringing endorsement on this from me, but Zuko's story just kills.

Angela Jun 29, 2010 (edited Jun 29, 2010)

With the movie coming out this week, I took to completing Books 2 and 3 in one glorious session this past weekend.  The show is a fabulous watch, definitely one of the most enjoyable serials I've had the pleasure to experience in a long, long time.

What follows is the long-winded prattling of a newborn fangirl.  I'm not going to bother whiting it all out, so be warned that there are plenty of *BIG SPOILERS* ahead:

------

It's a tough pick, but I'm gonna say Sokka is my number one favorite character.  Right from his first scenes in the very first episode, I fell in love with the meat-and-sarcasm-guy's comedic hijinks.  Foo Foo Cudley Poops made me laugh so hard.  Sokka's art drawings rock, and I'm glad he found his true worth in battle through his swordsmanship with Sifu Piandao. 

Toph is a very close second.  I'm so happy the creators opted to make her into the sarcastic, kick-ass 12 year old that she is.  Her self-depreciative blind jokes are always good for a chuckle.  "I AM MELON LORD!!  MWAHAHA!"

Bumi is my favorite secondary character.  I love the idea that there was someone who knew Aang a hundred years ago that can still be around today.  "The King of Omashu" is one of my all-time favorite episodes; it gave a first taste at how intricate these Element battles can be.  The Bumi-isms definitely stuck with me: "First of all, it's pretty fun messing with people."  "Lettuce leaf?"  "Who are you calling old?  Okay, I'm old." 

The voice work is sublime. Jessie Flower really brought that sense of precociousness to Toph, but the likes of Mark Hamill as Lord Ozai and Jason Isaacs as Commander Zhao definitely gave the series a killer edge.  John DiMaggio, Phil Lamarr, Tara Strong, Robin Atkin Downes, Cam Clarke, James Hong, Paul Eiding, and Quinton Flynn were also terrific guest additions.  Grey Delisle ended up being one of my favorite voice actresses, her Azula reminding me of Super SFIV's Juri: gleefully sadistic, pure villainy.  I'll need to re-watch the series to study the differences between the late Mako Iwamatsu and his replacement for Book 3.

On that note, Iroh is another awesome character.  Him playing the surrogate father figure to Zuko was handled well, the long awaited reconciliation scene between the two after the events of Book 2 a wonderful turning point in their relationship.  One wishes he were utilized more in Book 3 (could his lacking presence be because of Mako's recent death?), but his fall from Fire Nation general to rising tea shop entrepreneur made for a great story arc.  The White Dragon / White Jade Bush: delectable tea or deadly poison?

"Appa's Lost Days" was a great way to retell what exactly happened to the lovable beast.  (As a side note, "The Desert" episode had to be one of the most emotionally weighty episodes in the series.  It's one of the few times where Aang is in an uncomfortably perpetual state of angst.)  It's almost heartbreaking to see the big guy fall into such a feral state.  It felt entirely real that any animal that undergoes such abuse by human hands would become as untrusting as he had become.  Having Zuko save him was a great setup for his eventual alliance later on; that even Appa has a say as to whether or not he wants Zuko to join was a nice touch.

Favorite element?  Each episode manages to find inventive, new ways to use them, so it's hard for me to narrow it down to one.  The "hidden" second level of bending was a rad idea.  So, Earth has Metal, Fire has Lightening, Water has Blood..... where does that leave Air?  Does it even have one?

Bloodbending!  Man, was "The Puppetmaster" a creepy episode.  It's great that they've finally shown a dark side to Waterbenders.  Hama was a great villain, and having Katara learn the skill against her will was a delicious way to end the episode.  Sugar Queen no more.

I loved how the gang underwent cosmetic changes as the series progresses.  Sokka and Katara go from their Water Tribe winter clothing to warmer weather-based gear by Book 2.  Zuko and Aang grow their hair out, and Book 3 has all of them going incognito in Fire Nation outfits. (The Fire Nation outfits are far and away the coolest, by the way.)

The Momo Yojimbo/Appa Samurai duel was batshit, out-of-left-field insane.  Loved it.

The storytelling approach in "Tales of Ba Sing Se" was another favorite of mine.  That all the short stories came together toward the overall plot, rather than being just a bunch of lighthearted 'what if' takes, was confidently executed and wholly enjoyable.  Yet another favorite was "The Ember Island Players."  Now THIS is a clip-style show done right.  Woman Aang!  Man Toph!  Jet's ambiguous death, Zuko's blatantly growing hair, the deliberate skipping over of The Great Divide chapter..... I love that the creators weren't afraid to poke fun at the show and rein in truth at several turns.  The reactions from our main characters were truly priceless. smile

Zuko's story did indeed kill.  Honestly, the way he was carrying on, I never thought in a million years that he'd end up being Aang's new Firebending master.  Though I'm delighted that he turned to the side of good by the end, the initial approach in introducing him into the gang was something of a strange and awkward watch.  Maybe it's because his personality does such a complete 180; at best, one could say that he's just so bad at being good.  wink  I kind of wished they had him join the group earlier on in Book 3, but the few remaining episodes where he's featured alongside Team Avatar made for terrific chemistry.  I just love his straight-man presence in the group, his story gave him shots at redemption with the core members.  (Sokka in The Boiling Rock, and Katara in The Southern Raiders.)  The final Agni Kai with he and Azula was a thrilling confrontation.

I will say that I hated how each episode from Book 2 onward had to have a "Previously on Avatar...." recap at the beginning of each one.  With so much going on story-wise, I knew they were there to get viewers up to speed every week -- but it definitely managed to spoil some of the surprises in store.  For instance, they broadcast the return of Suki with a big, loud bullhorn.  From that point after, I decided to just skip through all the recaps.

------

Bring on the movie.  Spoken now as a rabid fan, I hold a far more pessimistic view that Shyamalan can screw this up pretty bad.  We shall see.

Bernhardt Jun 29, 2010 (edited Jun 29, 2010)

Angela wrote:

I loved how the gang underwent cosmetic changes as the series progresses.  Sokka and Katara go from their Water Tribe winter clothing to warmer weather-based gear by Book 2.  Zuko and Aang grow their hair out, and Book 3 has all of them going incognito in Fire Nation outfits. (The Fire Nation outfits are far and away the coolest, by the way.)

YES. Outfit changes were awesome. Just a little something to help keep the show fresh!

The storytelling approach in "Tales of Ba Sing Se" was another favorite of mine.  That all the short stories came together toward the overall plot, rather than being just a bunch of lighthearted 'what if' takes, was confidently executed and wholly enjoyable.  Yet another favorite was "The Ember Island Players."  Now THIS is a clip-style show done right.  Woman Aang!  Man Toph!  Jet's ambiguous death, Zuko's blatantly growing hair, the deliberate skipping over of The Great Divide chapter..... I love that the creators weren't afraid to poke fun at the show and rein in truth at several turns.  The reactions from our main characters were truly priceless. smile

On one hand, I found it hilarious, but on the other hand...the creators poking fun at their own show? It kind of made me feel foolish for watching the show...

Kid talking to Zuko, thinking he's just a cosplayer: "Nice Zuko costume! Too bad the scar's on the wrong side!" (Zuko) "The scar is NOT on the wrong side!" How could you possibly make fun of the most serious character in the series? Well, they figured out a way to do it...

...

Other than that, the series finale was EPIC, and rather satisfying! Somehow, though, it reminded me of the last few chapters of Drakengard, between the fiery red skies, the airships, and the batshit insane villains (Ozai and Azula).

...

Only issue I really take with the series, is how the cities all have proper names, but the countries are named after their elements; they couldn't have given them sufficiently Asian-sounding names, when they already gave the cities legitimate names?

Boco Jun 29, 2010

And Avatar converts yet another viewer. big_smile

After reading your fine post, I wish I had more to contribute. My thoughts and opinions echo most of yours though. One of my favorite aspects of the series is its attention to detail. So many shows start off with a good premise and then the creators just crap out random episodes to cash in. That never felt like the case with Avatar though. The whole thing feels very well planned and executed. With only a few exceptions, all the characters and stories are creatively dealt with and we really get a wonderful, detailed glimpse of the world in which Avatar takes place.

As you mentioned, even the episodes that would normally be filler or throwaway (the recap episode, Tales of Ba Sing Se, the beach episode, one-shot side stories) are given some dignity. Many are tied into the overall story and the rest are creatively and competently executed. It really is rare to find a show this well rounded and sincere. I have high hopes that someday soon we might get a fourth season that explores both characters and aspects of the world that weren't featured in this first trilogy. An obvious possibility would be Zuko's search for his mother, but there are other options as well.

Anyway, glad you enjoyed it! What's so great about this series is that it's easy to recommend. It's a quality animation that appeals to a very wide audience.

As for the new film... I wouldn't give up all hope yet. Some things will definitely be lost in the transition from television series to feature film, but I think the result could still be good. I think it will be a fun time and a new perspective if nothing else. XD

I do have one question for you, Angela: what did you think of the music in the TV series? You haven't really mentioned it yet and I'd be interested in hearing your thoughts. I won't say much at the moment other than I'm very sad that there isn't (and likely won't be) an official soundtrack

Bernhardt Jun 30, 2010 (edited Jun 30, 2010)

Oh yeah, here's another thing, just in case anyone has been tempted, DO NOT bother trying to PS2 Avatar games; at best, they're generic action RPGs, with the Avatar characters as your characters; their plots relate little back to the series; at best, they're episodes that stand on their own from the series.

They're playable, so long as you can accept and work around the poor hit detection, and that the games often have the tendency to freeze, either during battles, or just during loading screens.

All in all, if you can get them cheap (or for free), and don't have anything else better play, satisfy your curiosity if you must, otherwise, don't hurt yourself.

Boco Jun 30, 2010

I just bought James Newton Howard's score for "The Last Airbender". I'm listening to it as I type this and will be seeing the film later tonight. It's still too early to have an opinion, but I am liking what I've heard thus far. More thoughts forthcoming! :3

Angela Jun 30, 2010 (edited Jul 6, 2010)

Boco wrote:

I do have one question for you, Angela: what did you think of the music in the TV series?

It certainly accompanies the show well enough, but I honestly didn't take much from it out of context.  One of the more memorable, stand-out pieces are undoubtedly the Fire Nation and Zuko themes.  Those were always great mood setters.

It wasn't until the very last sequence of the final episode did I recall the kalimba-instrumented theme being a recurring piece throughout the show.  I guess that one could be considered the Team Avatar "friendship theme", as it can also be heard throughout the final moments of Book 1's "Winter Solstice Part 2: Avatar Roku" and Book 2's "The Blind Bandit."

I'm sure you've already heard The Track Team's samples featured on their Myspace page.  I do enjoy the "Avatar Premiere Main Title" theme, especially its action-fueled arrangement in "Season Three Trailer."  And I really liked how they composed a brand new arrangement of the Main Title specifically for the end credits of the very last episode - that was a great way to send off the series.

I've made a recording of the finale scene and end credits.  The finale includes the "friendship theme" that I had mentioned.

Finale & End Credits:
http://www.mediafire.com/?ljuymayqyk2

^EDIT: Re-upped a higher quality DVD rip of said Finale track.

Angela Jul 2, 2010

The movie is being massacred by fans and critics alike.  If nothing else, morbid curiosity is now driving me to see this movie. 

"I wanna tear down M. Night Shyamalan."

Ashley Winchester Jul 2, 2010

Angela wrote:

The movie is being massacred by fans and critics alike.  If nothing else, morbid curiosity is now driving me to see this movie.

After seeing the trailer on TV, I had a hunch this was what to follow.

Idolores Jul 2, 2010

So the general consensus right now is that the Avatar TV show is actually pretty good? I'll torrent a few episodes tonight, see what all the fuss is about.

I look forward to the movie. Looks like a good popcorn flick (don't really give a damn what the fans and/critics wanna say. Didn't Speed Racer also get ripped to shreds by ratings?).

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