Homestead High School's student newspaper

The Epitaph

Homestead High School's student newspaper

The Epitaph

Homestead High School's student newspaper

The Epitaph

“Avatar: The Last Airbender” live-action redeems itself — but not enough

The animated TV show “Avatar: The Last Airbender,” commonly known as ATLA, was an instant success after its initial 2005 release on Nickelodeon, attracting millions of viewers all over the world and garnering attention across media platforms. So, when Netflix announced they were creating another ATLA live-action project after the disastrous 2010 live-action movie, “The Last Airbender,” I was originally really excited.

Main characters Aang, Katara and Sokka prepare to fight enemies in a great display of choreography (Photo from Netflix).

I hoped that all the things the 2010 movie had done wrong like inaccurate casting, misrepresentation of benders and overall negligence of the original content would be fixed in this new adaptation. 

But when the original directors of the animated show, Michael DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko left the project in June 2020 due to creative differences, according to Time Magazine, my hopes for an improved live-action sank. 

Released Feb. 22, the live-action TV show “Avatar: The Last Airbender” was still not the live-action adaptation I had hoped for. The series spanned eight episodes that all failed to incorporate the best of the ATLA world. 

I was bored after the first few episodes: all the humor and charm I had once adored was sucked out and replaced with a more serious and mature tone. I realized that this live-action remake was catered toward adults who watched the show as children, rather than an actual adolescent audience as it was much more brutal and descriptive in areas unadvised for children. 

Although the season hits all the major scenes and plot points, it does not get all the small, iconic details within the original episodes. The brisk pace of mashing all the storylines together takes away from the narrative, which is what originally made the characters feel so expertly developed. 

Despite this, I was quite impressed with the visual effects. Although the quality fluctuated from episode to episode, there was a whimsical feel to the world. However, the airbending and waterbending looked unnatural, causing the production to look messy. The fight scenes lacked the magnitude they originally had because the blending did not match the actor’s movements. 

The live-action “Avatar: The Last Airbender” is certainly better in aspects like the cast, plot and writing than the 2010 movie, but it can never transcend the masterpiece of the animated version. However, it is a great first step in the right direction and I am curious to see how the show progresses in the next two seasons. 

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About the Contributor
Catherine Yang, Reporter
Catherine is a sophomore, and this is her first year on The Epitaph staff. She looks forward to capturing moments through photography and learning the unique stories of the HHS community. Catherine loves playing basketball, piano and drinking boba. In her free time, she enjoys traveling and trying unorthodox activities such as tubing, zip lining and white water rafting.

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