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Thom’s Reactions - Live-Action Avatar: The Last Airbender Ep1

Thom DeSimone
  • Avatar: The live-action show is a mixed bag of nostalgia, stunning visuals, and a few missed opportunities. But hey, it's a... ride.. that's just getting started. Here's hoping they continue to surprise us and capture more of the magic of the original series.

The Wheel of Time flows through my veins as much as it does yours! That being said, there is a TON of wide-ranging crossover in many fandoms with us WoT nerds. Whether it's Star Trek, Star Wars, Marvel, DC Comics, or even cooking (love them honeycakes)! But another franchise that is near and dear to my heart is Avatar: The Last Airbender. The themes and many story elements deeply cross over into Wheel of Time.I will be exploring all of this in this blog series as I watch the live-action series. You can also catch some AtLAB content by tuning in to the current season of our Monday Night #reWoTch where we are watching the Animated series of AtLAB Book 2.


Don't forget to join us Mondays at 9pm Eastern on the Youtubes ;-)


Welcome to the Fire Nation capital, a place where beauty is shadowed with ominous foreboding. As the curtain rises on the live-action adaptation of Avatar: The Last Airbender, we are treated to a visual feast. The set design? Stunning. The costumes and makeup? On point. The opening sequence? Kyoshi, you absolute legend! She graces the screen looking fiercer than ever. The visualization of the avatars, lined up like a council of gods, with Roku's entrance at the end? Perfection. And we can’t forget the delightful addition of rat-chickens, which immediately shows the quirky touch that runs through the world of Avatar.


But it's not just the aesthetics that I thoroughly enjoyed. The bending, oh the bending! Earth and fire collide in a spectacular display of power. The earthbender's use of stones to create a Gatling gun? Pure genius. And those rat-chickens? They steal the show with their hilarious antics.


As the action unfolds, we witness the earthbender seamlessly blending defense and attack, surfing on rocks like a boss. And those 'chocobos' lurking in the background? A nod to gaming, perhaps, with Square Enix vibes that make you do a double-take.


And then there's Firelord Sozen and crew, delivering performances that harken back to classic Kung Fu films. It's a nostalgic nod that many fans probably appreciate. I certainly did!


But let's talk about the fire. The burning effects are chillingly realistic, a stark reminder of the showrunners' aim to appeal to “Game of Thrones" fans. The violence and gore is in service of a darker, grittier narrative.


Side Note:

I want to dive into a theory I have been seeing people passionately discuss. Is the Avatar truly one soul? I'm not entirely convinced. The Avatar communicates with past/dead Avatars, suggesting a shared consciousness rather than a simple cycle of rebirth. It's a thought-provoking concept that adds depth to the story.


And then there's Aang, soaring through the skies without his trusty staff. A bold choice, considering its significance later on. Why the change? It's a departure from the original, but perhaps it sets the stage for new developments.


Speaking of developments, the announcement of Aang as the Avatar and subsequent event at the Southern Air Temple adds a layer of tension. It makes the Fire Nation's decimation of the airbenders more plausible, concentrating some of the strongest/most influential airbenders in one vulnerable location. And can we talk about the air temples? Majestic doesn't even begin to describe them.


Now, let's address the elephant-bison in the room: accents. Or rather, the lack thereof. Aang sounds... off. Like a robot trying to blend in with humans. It's a curious choice that has me scratching my head.He almost sounds like someone narrating Aang’s story/thoughts instead of a character living in the world.


But enough about Aang, let's talk about everyone's favorite sky bison, Appa. He looks and sounds as magnificent as ever, a CGI masterpiece that brings joy to this diehard fans' heart.


Aang emerges from his icy slumber and leaves behind his beloved Appa, a choice I’m not thrilled about him just HAVING the Air bison whistle already. Because I fear its the Netflix is giving us a subtle hint that certain filler episodes may be left out, but also a lesson in responsibility and sacrifice for the viewers >.<.


And then there's the budding bond between Aang and Katara, a sweet moment that feels a tad forced but still manages to warm our hearts 😉


The showdown between Zuko and Sokka is a highlight, showcasing Sokka's clever tactics and Zuko's simmering frustration. Aang's intervention, effortlessly taking out firebenders, is a testament to his raw power. But it's Zuko's disappointment upon meeting Aang that strikes a chord. The gap between expectation and reality is palpable, setting the stage for a complex relationship. They've really got Zuko's obsession (or admiration?) of the Avatar down pat. It's like he worships the Avatar. I’ve always seen it like a kid idolizing a pro wrestler. 


The way he rambles on about past Avatars and their abilities, creating a collection of pictures and even little Avatar dolls, predicting what this new one will be like. It's all there, and was something wasn’t fleshed out until much later in the animated series.


Now, let's address the Avatar state. His reaction to finding Monk Gyatso feels a bit underwhelming compared to the animated series, missing how it lands with an emotional gut punch. In the cartoon, Katara's role in helping Aang come out of the state was a pivotal moment that seems to be missing here.


In summary, this live-action adaptation scores a solid 4 out of 10 from me. The visuals? A strong 7 to 10. The story? A middling 5. The bending, though? Top-notch, with the airbending presenting a unique challenge in a live action medium versus an animated one that the team tackles admirably.


In the end, Avatar: The live-action show is a mixed bag of nostalgia, stunning visuals, and a few missed opportunities. But hey, it's a... ride.. that's just getting started. Here's hoping they continue to surprise us and capture more of the magic of the original series.


So grab your gliders, wrangle your rat-chickens, and get ready for an adventure unlike any other (lets hope >.<). The elements are calling, is Avatar ready to answer?


Air Benders in General

Great Costuming - overall feel of the Air temples and the atmosphere was wonderful. Though it felt like they were all far too serious. The whole theme of the Airbenders is that they are ephemeral, flighty. They don't hold strongly to anything because all life is fleeting and all are one. 

Fire Nation / Benders

I think they are doing well showing the Imperial nature of the Fire Nation at this point in their history. The bending itself does look good and “dance” like. I hope that theme carries through.

Southern Water Tribe

Totally get “Reservation Dogs” feel with how they acted together. I also like the feel from the Indigenous people in the most recent season of True Detective. I am glad they hired indigenous actors. 


Trying to be as nice as possible and honestly hoping that this kid just received very poor direction but he has almost no personality IMO, he just seems SO FAKE and wooden. Aang’s happy go lucky/childlike nature is basically non-existent. He seems more like a narrator telling the viewer about Aang and what he is doing and less a living character. 


Monk Gyatso was one of my favorite characters in the animated series, this one is… ok. I liked his look and his voice. I think they needed to make him more ‘fatherly’ toward Aang. It was so impactful seeing the flashback scenes and how he took care of Aang in the animated series, that made his death so gut wrenching..


Another one I am unsure on. I want to see more dialogue and scenes with Kitara. I like her look, the costuming is great.


Overall I like his personality and acting, it took me a minute but I am hoping that he is still in his “protective defense” stage of his personality and that he will mellow out. 


Changing his drive from “regaining honor” to  “his destiny to be fire lord” was a terrible mistake IMO. At the heart of regaining his “honor” was really “seeking his fathers approval” and it wasn't until he realized (Iroh showed him) that he would never get that because his father was a failure as a father/leader/person. Only then did he realize that it was up to himself to grant his “honor” back.


He's ….good. That's the best I can say. I love Paul Sun-Hyung Lee a ton! But I can’t get past seeing the actor instead of the character.The character of Iroh should be bigger than life, while still humble, funny, charismatic, a deep sadness. This isn’t capturing that for me.

I am hoping when he will get a chance to flex his acting muscles as the show progresses.

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