So Disappointed… (SPOILERS)

Being the geek that I am, occasionally I do the unthinkably insane in order to retain the title. This past week, I attended a midnight showing on Tuesday night, then attended a midnight showing the following night. I also work a 40-hour-a-week job, (four ten-hour days Monday through Thursday and an occasional Friday for some overtime), starting at 6am… I got a total of seven hours of sleep in a 48-hour period and didn’t miss a minute of work. Thank God for friends at work that keep things lively!

At any rate, the first movie I saw was The Twilight Saga: Eclipse. Interestingly enough, these movies keep getting better in violation of the law of diminishing quality when it comes to sequels… The first movie was on the shady side of mediocre, The Twilight Saga: New Moon was much better, actually being what I could call a good movie. The newest movie was very well done. Finally. It wasn’t perfect by any means, but I definitely cared more this time in relation to the characters. In relation to the action, I kind of already had a lot of confidence in David Slade after seeing 30 Days of Night. As far as the adaptation issue, I thought Slade made some very wise choices. It seemed that all of the major plot points and some of the lesser ones were well accounted for, with reasonable compression choices as well.

Riley (Xavier Samuel) was well cast, and Victoria (the goddess Bryce Dallas Howard) was as drop-dead gorgeous as I imagined in the book. I think Howard is worlds better-looking and better cast than the original Victoria, Rachelle Lefevre. The Cullens were fleshed out much better this time, with a great back-story scene straight out of the books with one of my favorite Cullens, Jasper (allowing Jackson Rathbone to finally flex his acting muscles a bit and have a sweet little scene with Alice). Bella has her little moment with Rosalie as well. I was surprised to see Jodelle Ferland and Kristen Stewart get a little bit of a The Messengers reunion when Jodelle shows up as Bree Tanner, the subject of a new novella release from Stephenie Meyer.

The triangle...

As far I could tell, Slade stayed remarkably faithful to the novel. The parts that were shifted or compressed served the flow of the story well. In fact, it was so faithful that as soon as the wolves stepped out of the forest for the “training session”, I could tell which one was Sam, which one was Jacob, and so on, simply from the descriptions of the wolves from the book. Another little effect that I thought was perfect was the sound of the newborns getting ripped apart. Meyer described it as the sound of thick metal ripping, which Slade followed perfectly.

The Cullens

The more I think back on the movie, the more fond of it I’m getting. They even included the tent conversation between Edward and Jacob, almost verbatim. I wasn’t expecting that, but it was one of my favorite character moments in the book.

The fireside history lesson (straight from the book)...

You should obviously take this review with a grain of salt as it should be obvious by now that I’m a die-hard fan of the books. Flame away, haters… :-p

So why is the title of this post “So Disappointed”?

Another property I’m a die-hard fan of is Nickelodeon’s Avatar: The Last Airbender

Yes, the second midnight showing was M. Night Shyamalan’s The Last Airbender.

The deceptively cool movie poster...

Now, I’m a huge fan of the show. It’s character depth, realistic themes exploring war, genocide, love, loss, guilt, and grief; all in a believable way. Yeah, it’s got some goofy humor for the kids, but nothing that’s intolerable. Most of the humor is actually a bit witty… Aint It Cool News‘s Massawyrm said it best when he said that Avatar is “a series written with adults in mind, but marketed to kids”.

But…

OH… MY… GOD…

Wow. Just wow…

The humorless bore of an Avatar...

I consider myself a pretty positive person. I am usually able to lock on to almost any positive quality in a movie and magnify it to a degree that makes the film worthwhile. I walked out of Star Wars: Episode 1 reasonably happy despite it’s problems. I even found a few things to like about the American Godzilla movie…

But this…

Okay, let’s get the few positive points out of the way first, which should be a fairly short paragraph.

The scenery is mostly beautiful. The bending effects are great,  ILM did an adequate job. Overall, I would say that the visuals of the film were spot-on. Shaun Toub was fairly good at communicating the spirit of Uncle Iroh. I recognized him instantly as Yinsen from Iron Man, and he’s a pretty good actor. The soundtrack was a reasonable attempt at “epic”…

Yue and Sokka...

Okay, on to the the stuff that made this an ultimately unwatchable fetid pile of crap…

The script was awful. The unknown child actors were either underacting or overacting with little in between. Aang had NO HUMOR AT ALL… What? I knew Shyamalan was going to excise a lot of the goofy kiddy humor, that was fine with me. But no humor in the film at all? If there was, I don’t remember it… Moving on… Appa and Momo looked fine, but were relegated to window dressing and a mode of transportation instead of the rich characters they are in the show. (Momo had an entire story to himself in the series revealing an important plot point, and Appa got an entire episode). The pacing was awful. I recognized a lot of the plot points as they raced by in almost incomprehensible fashion. I understand that it would be impossible to stuff a twenty-something episode season into two hours, but seriously, there is no reason an epic story can’t be told in two to three hours that has a decent flow, (just ask Peter Jackson)…

Avatar-state Aang...

Above and beyond the above-mentioned grievous problems, there were very important plot points that were not included that easily could have been. Aang never consults Roku, no Bumi, many others. I just really can’t run the movie through my mind anymore to list this stuff… The cardinal sin that finally destroyed the movie utterly is the changed ending in which Aang chases away the Fire Nation Army with a giant wall of water instead of fusing with the Ocean Spirit in his Avatar state to wipe out a third of the Army by capsizing their ships with a few waves of his arms… Ridiculous… What a missed opportunity…

You won’t hear me complaining about the different pronunciations of the character names like many others are, since I’m assuming that this is Shyamalan’s attempt at authentic Asian name pronunciation. “A” is always pronounced “ah” as in ball, and “O” is always pronounced “oh”  as in note, and “I” is always pronounced “ee” as in sink. If the fans are so attached to the incorrect pronunciations, then start spelling the names “Eing”, “Sakka”, and “Uncle Airo”, because that would be the transliteration of the Asian sounds in English letters… OR, they can start learning Asian languages, OR stop falling in love with television series’ that are based in an exclusively Asian world…

Some of my criticisms are evident to anyone who loves good film-making, and some are the exclusive realm of a fan’s grieved heart. I have seriously been looking forward to this film for the last two years. To have it fail this stupendously is a serious blow to me. This is the first time I have ever felt personally angry at a director. If ANYONE in Hollywood is stupid enough to give Shyamalan money to make another movie (any movie), I WILL NOT BE SEEING IT… M. Night Shyamalan is the first director to make my boycott blacklist, and I’m standing by it. Michael Bay has never screwed me this bad. Hell, even Ewe Boll hasn’t screwed me this bad…

Anyway, there it is… Eclipse is EASILY the better movie of the two, (I don’t care how much you hate Twilight), and it deserves the box office windfall it will undoubtedly receive…

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~ by 45shiro45 on July 2, 2010.

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