Saturday, 28 January 2012

The Last Air Bender

The Last Air Bender should have been a better film given the subject marrying ancient mysticism and folklore with the latest computer generated use of 3 D. The concept is that of an earth populated by human beings with the capacity to bend (make use) of the air, water, fire and earth in superhuman magical ways. These uses can be for positive or negative purposes and in order to ensure the abilities are in balance there is a being called the Avatar who is able to command all four elements. Unfortunately the Avatar abandoned the world and those in command of Fire waged war in everyone else subjugating or destroying all those who stood in the way of world domination.

When an adolescent girl who is a secret water bender and her young brother are hunting food among the ice of the South Pole that come across a phenomenon which leads to the emergence of a young boy and a flying bison.

Immediately unbeknown to the adolescents 112 years before the boy had been identified within the people of who bend Air that this young man was destined to become the Avatar after training in all four arts. It is explained to him after the discovery that as the chosen one he must remain single and devote himself to the duties of the role. This frightens and devastates the young man who runs way rather than takes the oath of loyalty from and to the air bending subjects. He had become trapped by the water spirits and is unaware for how long.

Because he exhibits banned abilities by the people who can bend the earth his presence becomes known to the son of the Fire Nation who is on a quest to gain control over the Avatar and re-establish good relations with his father who regards him as a failure. His father’s senior Commander General Hao is also out to locate the Avatar which he hopes will end once and for all the relationship with the son who he is working at replacing in the affections and patronage of the Fire Lord Ozai.

The trio are captured when taking sanctuary with earth bending people are have been forbidden to use their arts and where anyone who shows abilities has been killed or imprisoned. They incite the people to use their latent powers to rebel from their conquerors.

They journey to the land where the Air benders used to reside and from the training centre from where he had run away.

He discovers that as a direct consequence of running away all the Air benders have been destroyed by the Fire Nation. He finds it even more difficult to live with himself than before. The problem is that apart from becoming a successful Air bender he was yet to learn the other three skills before he had run away.

He is taken to an isolated city of Water people able to teach and practice their art because they are protected by their isolation, their art and protecting spirits.

On their journey they experience various adventures and dangers including a betrayal, At one point they are rescued by the son of the Fire Lord and in return they save his life.

On arrival at the Water bending Kingdom they adjust to their new situation and the Avatar still appears unable to progress because of the continuing guilt he feels about his failure to accept his role as when boy and because of what has happened to the world since then. Here also the brother of Katara “ falls“ for the Water Princess and Katara and the Avatar bond closer in their commitment to the task of saving the world.

What they do not know is that the full army and fleet of the Fire Lord has set sail because they have learned of the whereabouts of the spirits protecting and giving to the water people The Aviator is able to enter a trance communicating with the spirit world for guidance and he does this as the fleet of the Fire Lord arrive and imperils the city with their fire machines and then with their destruction of the water spirits. The son of the Fire Lord has captured the Aviator when in a trance but Katara manages to rescue him by placing the son in\water freeze. However the people appear unable to use their power because of the killing of the Moon spirit when their powers are at their height. It is at his point that the Princes realises that her destiny is to pass from her mortal life to join the spirit world replacing the Moon and water spirits. She is afraid to make the transition but is helped through her friendship with Katara’s brother. Released from the control of the son of the Fire Lord, the Avatar has created a great wall of the sea protecting the fleet. The consequence is that the force for the Fire Lord within the walls of the city makes peace recognising the role of the Avatar as do the Water people. The rest of the fleet make tracks home.

Thus the Avatar and his companions are able to move onto the next stage of his question to gain master of the Earth bending and then of Fire. Learning of he Defeat the Fire Lord appoints his daughter to capture the Avatar.

There is some similarity with The Lion Witch and Wardrobe, Harry Potter etc where the main characters are children/teenagers.

Two graphic novels have been written The Last Airbender Zuko’s Story a Prequel and the Last Airbender drawn in the manga style. The film failed to impress the critics and audiences alike given that the production cost $150 million. It will be interesting to see if what appears to be trailed as at least one sequel, possibility two are made and released.

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