|The Last Airbender|
Avatar book 1
$198.7 Million (and rising)
The Last Airbender is the film adaptation of the first season of Avatar: The Last Airbender. It is the first part of a planned film trilogy adapting the three seasons of the animated series. It has been marketed and released in a joint effort by Paramount Pictures and Nickelodeon Movies. The screenplay has been written and the film has been directed by M. Night Shyamalan. Producers include Frank Marshall, Kathleen Kennedy, Sam Mercer and Scott Aversano. Filming began in mid-March 2009, and the release date was on July 1, 2010. Many novelizations of the movie was released on May 22, 2010.
The film stars Noah Ringer as Aang, a 12 year old boy who would prefer to avoid his job as the Avatar in favour of adventure. Aang, and his friends Katara and Sokka travel to the Northern Water Tribe at the North Pole in order to find aWaterbending master to teach Aang. At the same time, Fire Lord Ozai, the ruler of the Fire Nation, is waging a seemingly endless war against the Earth Kingdom and the Water Tribe, having already destroyed the Air Nomads.
The film adaptations have been received with criticism by some fans and supporters over the racial ethnicity of the main cast, sparking accusations of racism, a letter-writing campaign and a protest. Upon release, the film was near-universally panned by critics and fans alike for its poor dialogue, muddled pacing, and wooden acting, though it did receive some praise for its visual effects and design. It is currently commercially solid with a $111,813,808 intake domestically.
Air, Water, Earth, Fire. For a hundred years, these four nations met their destinies when the Fire Nation launched a horrible war against the others. It began with Fire Lord Sozin's near extinction of the Air Nomads, and now led by Fire Lord Ozai (Cliff Curtis). Over all those years, the current Avatar, Aang (Noah Ringer), whose job was to keep balance in the world, was frozen in ice beneath the Southern Water Tribe, and is now the last Airbender.
One day, the two Water Tribe children, Katara (Nicola Peltz), a Waterbender, and Sokka (Jackson Rathbone), found and rescued Aang, along with his Flying Bison named Appa. Unfortunately, they weren't the only ones who found him. Ozai's exiled son, Prince Zuko (Dev Patel) along with his Uncle Iroh (Shaun Toub) sees the bright light coming from the opening ice, and both wasted no time in going to the Southern Tribe to fulfill Zuko's destiny as his father ordered. Zuko, along with his soldiers, scanned the area and found Aang, bringing him aboard the ship and imprisoning him. Iroh gave Aang a test to see if he really was the Avatar. After the test was successful, Aang escaped, realizing that he would go to the Fire Nation if he didn't. After an escape on Appa, he, along with Katara and Sokka, headed for the Southern Air Temple. After finding out the truth about his people's demise, Aang enters the Avatar State, unable to control himself. Due to his state, he entered the Spirit World and talked to a Dragon Spirit before regaining control. They left with a winged lemur, whom they named Momo.
They enter an Earth Kingdom village, getting themselves imprisoned. Aang convinces them to fight back and get their own territory back. Using this tactic, they started a rebellion, freeing village by village, eventually saving the island of Kyoshi, a past Avatar. One day, they got a reward: the Waterbending Scroll, which helped both Aang and Katara start to learn waterbending. This proved helpful when Aang visited the Northern Air Temple to see a big trap. Dozens of firebenders lashed out at Aang, led by Commander Zhao (Aasif Mandvi). A swordsman whom they called "The Blue Spirit" came in and defended Aang. Through their combined work, they escaped, only with the Spirit being shot with an arrow. Aang moved the mask and found out it was Zuko all along. He decided to care for him, then left him before he could awake. Aang then left for the Northern Water Tribe with Katara and Sokka.
When they met the Royal Family, Sokka instantly fell in love with Princess Yue (Seychelle Gabrielle), who had her life given to her by the Moon Spirit, and Aang and Katara spent a few weeks training with Master Pakku (Francis Guinan). Soon enough, though, the entire Fire Nation Navy attacked the city, fighting ferociously. Meanwhile, Zuko sneaked into the city, looking for Aang. Aang believed that he had no chance at defeating them, and needed help from the Dragon Spirit. Yue, Katara, and Sokka took Aang to the Spirit Oasis, where two koi fish swam in a circle. Upon meeting the Dragon Spirit, Aang found out that the fish were the Moon and Ocean Spirits, who provided power to Waterbenders, were now stronger than ever because there would be a full moon that night. Unfortunately, Zhao also obtained this information, planning to kill the Moon Spirit.
Zuko then came in, attacking Katara. He felt her, making sure she was still alive and spoke to her unconcious form, saying he won't be allowed to return to the Fire Nation without the Avatar. He then steals Aang, hiding him in a shed. Soon after, Aang left the Spirit World and engaged Zuko in battle, eventually freezing him. Once he found it safe, he unfroze Zuko's head, running away and letting him do the rest with Firebending. Meanwhile, Zhao took the Moon Spirit and prepared to kill it. Iroh intervened, threatening Zhao with firebending. Zhao ignored and stabbed the fish with a dagger before dropping it back in the pond. Just then, all the Waterbenders' power left, seemingly allowing the Fire Nation victory. Out of fury, Iroh spreads out his hands and "creates his own fire" (something the Fire Nation can't do in the movie, they can only take it from other sources.) and the Fire nation soldiers in the Oasis flee to safety. iroh calms down and everyone mourns the Moon spirit, when Iroh realises Yue's been given life from the moon spirit, and begs her to bring the spirit back to life, sokka argues, however, but Yue realized that it was her destiny. Yue then walked into the pond to give her life back to the Moon, and did so, leaving Sokka to mourn for the new Moon Spirit. While this happened, the Moon returned, giving the waterbenders enough power to attack again and kill Zhao. Aang joined the fight, eventually climbing to the outer wall of the City, overlooking a vast armada of ships. He entered the Avatar State and generated a giant tsunami as a threat to the Fire Navy. The ships all left when Aang's threat grew larger and taller with every second, securing the victory of the Water Nation. Everyone in the city bowed down to Aang, and he (after realizing that this was his duty) then bowed back, finally accepting the role of the Avatar.
In the Fire Nation, Fire Lord Ozai gives his daughter Azula the task of capturing Aang before Sozin's Comet returns in three years time.
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- Aang is played by Texas Taekwondo champion, Noah Ringer, who won the part in an open audition. The 12-year-old was cast after submitting a homemade DVD of himself practicing taekwondo. This was his first role ever.
- Katara is played by 15-year-old actress Nicola Peltz, who was highly praised at her audition by M. Night Shyamalan. Shyamalan said that he didn't want to do the movie without her.
- Sokka is played by actor Jackson Rathbone, who is primarily known for his portrayal of the vampire Jasper Hale in the Twilight films.
- Zuko is played by Slumdog Millionaire actor, Dev Patel. Patel replaced Jesse McCartney for the role of Prince Zuko as the latter was unable to take part due to conflicting scheduling. Shyamalan was impressed by Patel's performance in Slumdog Millionaire and so cast him in the role. Young Zuko is played by Rohan Shah.
- Zhao is played by actor Aasif Mandvi, an Indian-born actor and comedian.
- Iroh is played by actor Shaun Toub, an Iranian-born television and film actor of Persian Jewish background with previous roles in films such as Bad Boys.
- Ozai is played by actor Cliff Curtis, a New Zealander with Maori heritage. He has had previous starring roles in New Zealand films such as Whale Rider.
- Yue is played by actress Seychelle Gabriel.
- Kanna (Gran Gran) is played by actress Katharine Houghton.
Filming of the movie. On January 8, 2007, Paramount Pictures and Nickelodeon Movies announced that they have signed M. Night Shyamalan to write, direct and produce a trilogy of live-action films based on the series; the first of these films will be a faithful adaptation of the main characters' adventures in Book One. The film was in a dispute with James Cameron's film Avatar regarding title ownership, which resulted in the film being titled The Last Airbender.
According to an interview with the co-creators in SFX Magazine, Shyamalan came across Avatar when his daughter wanted to be Katarafor Halloween. Intrigued, Shyamalan researched and watched the series with his family. "Watching Avatar has become a family event in my house...so we are looking forward to how the story develops in season three", said Shyamalan. "Once I saw the amazing world that Mike and Bryan created, I knew it would make a great feature film." He added he was attracted to the spiritual and martial arts influences on the show.
Avatar: The Last Airbender co-creators Mike DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko came forward to voice their opinion within an interview regarding M. Night Shyamalan writing, directing and producing the film. The two displayed much enthusiasm over Shyamalan's decision for the adaptation, stating that they admire his work and, in turn, he respects their material. M. Night Shyamalan said he will write the second film while preparing to shoot the first. James Newton Howard, who has composed all of Shyamalan's films since The Sixth Sense, will compose the music for The Last Airbender.
In Spring 2008, open auditions for the main characters were announced. Open tryouts for the part of Aang were held on October 18. On December 10, the names of potential actors were released. Shyamalan offered the roles of Aang to Tae Kwon Do-trained Texan Noah Ringer; Sokka to Jackson Rathbone; Katara to Nicola Peltz; and Zuko to Jesse McCartney. In February 2009, Dev Patel replaced McCartney, whose tour dates conflicted with a boot camp scheduled for the cast to train in martial arts. Further casting choices were released in March 2009: Aasif Mandvi will play Admiral Zhao, Shaun Toub will play Uncle Iroh, Cliff Curtis will play Fire Lord Ozai, Keong Sim has been cast in the role of an "Earthbending Father" and Isaac Jin Solstein will play an "Earthbending Boy." Katharine Houghton will play Kanna, Seychelle Gabriel will play Princess Yue, and Suki will be played by actress Jessica Jade Andres.
Producer Frank Marshall stated the film release may be moved to later in 2010 or even to early 2011. The budget for the films has been given in various sources as $250 million. Frank Marshall has clarified that this amount is the budget for the entire trilogy, and that they are spending a greater than average portion of it on the first film to "create the world." Paramount Pictures has budgeted an estimated $350 million for the entire trilogy. The first movie will be made with $100 to $130 million.
In August of 2009, a leaked copy of a draft script appeared on the Internet. It contained information of a Dragon Spirit talking to Aang about the Fire Nation and the War. Producer Frank Marshall claimed, via Twitter, that the script didn't seem to be real to him. Soon later, KISS bassist, Gene Simmons, confirmed on his website that he was voicing the Dragon Spirit.
Filming and SetsEdit
One of many sets Filming began March 2009 in Ilulissat, Greenland, and returned in April to Philadelphia. One of the sound-stages used for filming is the 180,000-sq-ft former Budd Co. warehouse in East Falls. An exterior location at the Pagoda in Reading, PA was filmed on April 2nd and April 9th. On April 7th, filming took place at the Philadelphia Electric Company building. Producer Frank Marshall revealed that the inside of the building is being used as a set, and that they are incorporating all the old machinery of the power plant for filming. An abandoned automotive warehouse about 10 miles outside of Philadelphia is also being used for sets, which roughly 600 craftsman, techies and designers have worked on. io9, a science fiction blog website, was invited to the set of The Last Airbender in Philadelphia and reported on a number of different sets to be used in the movie. One of the sets, inside an old airplane hangar about 15 miles outside of Philadelphia, which set remains unknown, is reportedly "the largest set ever constructed on the East Coast." July 2, 2009, saw the end of filming and beginning of post-production.
- The Southern Water Tribe set in Ilulissat, Greenland.
- A Fire Temple set is being made out of the Reading Pagoda on Mount Penn, outside of Reading, Pennsylvania.
- The Kyoshi Island village set in the West Rockhill quarry, along with "a fortress and a castle-like compound."
- The Southern Air Temple. Deserted, crumbled and ruined, with many skeletons lying on the ground. Wrecked Fire Nation machinery litters the area, even a completely in-tact Tundra Tank. io9 reports many golden statues of past Avatars.
- The Spirit Oasis. "We walk a few yards away from the mouth of a white “ice” cave, carved from foam and plastic and covered in a blanket of faux snow. Its steps lead into the mouth of a darkened bluish-gray cave that twists along for 40 feet before the path opens up into a glorious chamber that looks as if it was plucked from the canvas of a beautiful Asian landscape painting. High walls rise to create a cocooned oasis of (now dry) koi ponds, with green moss banks that lead to the stunning focal point: a towering, twisted-limbed, resplendently blooming cherry tree filled with blossoms. Even with the set not fully dressed for filming, the tree is a breathtaking vision, with 3,500 hand-placed tiny pink blossoms. It’s called the Spiritual Place, where Aang will meet the Moon Spirit, and it elicits authentic goosebumps for what this place will look like once captured on film."
- Zuko's ship. On a life-sized replica of the bow of Zuko's ship, Dev Patel says Zuko will spar with members of his crew.
- Possibly the Prison Rig. Inside the old Philadelphia Electric Company building, a spacious factory with many rusted pipework, valves and platforms.
Official teaser trailer The teaser trailer for The Last Airbender was attached to the release of Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen on June 24, 2009. The trailer was also released exclusively on Entertainment Tonight on June 22nd. It was released onto the Internet June 23, when the movie's official website went online. It was also attached to the movie 'Shorts'.
The trailer shows the titular character, Aang as played by Noah Ringer, whose head is covered by the hood of a red robe. As he trains with his staff, the narrator explains who he is:
He is the last of his kind; all that remains of a once powerful nation. Some think he is a myth; some believe he is the chosen one who will bring balance to a world at war, and some will stop at nothing to destroy him.
Aang uses Airbending to slowly blow out each of the candles until he thrusts his staff to quickly blow out the rest in a gust of air, then lifts the hood to reveal his face. Aang is then seen bending powerful currents of air out of the temple door, trying to knock off the numerous Fire Nation soldiers who are scaling the cliffs below the Air Temple. The camera pans out to reveal a massive Fire Nation armada at sea, whose ships immediately catapult balls of fire towards the temple. 
The cast had planned to release a new trailer in December as told by Frank Marshall on Twitter: "For those of you wondering about LAST AIRBENDER, all is well in post and we r working on a trailer for Xmas..." , but later, in December 3, he said (also on Twitter): "Not enough ILM shots finished, so LAST AIRBENDER trailer will not debut until Feb...". 
Paramount Pictures, purchased a time slot for a commercial during Superbowl XLIV (44), where they aired a 30sec teaser. The full trailer was released a few days after this and was attached to the film Percy Jackson. Paramount have since also aired a shorter commercial during TV coverage of the Vancouver Winter Olympics. Recently there was a third TV spot shown during the Nickelodeon Kid's Choice Awards 2010, showing new footage not shown in the other previews, including Katara waterbending and Aang in a battle with Zuko. There was a second full trailer with more footage then the first full trailer,this trailer can be viewed on Youtube. Also there is a third full trailer attached to the film 'Iron Man 2. 'This trailer can also be viewed on the official website. Lately there has been a new trailer viewed before the movie 'Shrek Forever After.'This trailer is like the Iron Man 2 trailer but with a bit of new footage and new transitions. A new Japanese trailer has been released and also a new french trailer. Both of the Japanese trailers and the new french trailer can be viewed on Youtube. Recently a new batch of TV Spots revealed that THE Last Airbender will instead be released July 1st instead of July 2nd.
In 2009, an unofficial Last Airbender fan site was published. Currently, it contains first-seen images of Zuko and Aang, as well as Photoshop mock-up of the Water Tribe seas in the banner.
As stated by John Zdon,Airbender's film camp is "like a carnival". In the same year, rumors occurred of a leaked CGI teaser trailer for the film. Producer Frank Marshall cleared these rumors stating that that was a test for Nickelodeon and not the base for future promotional material, including theatrical and teaser trailers.
In July of the same year, it was announced that Spin Master, a toy production company, would produce and distribute official toys based on the movie. And that both a manga prequel and adaptation of the film will be published by Del Rey Manga.
To further promote the film, Paramount Pictures and Nickelodeon Movies teamed with Embassy Suites (the upscale, all suites hotel chain) to bring guests who booked and completed a stay at any Embassy Suites property between May 3 and August 31 of 2010, a chance to win one of four incredible The Last Airbender-themed grand prizes. Each grand prize includes a six-day, five-night getaway for four at the Embassy Suites Waikiki Beach Walk resort in Hawaii, as well as the choice of one of four exhilarating Hawaiian adventure excursions representing the "Four Nations" themes as depicted in The Last Airbender. In addition to this, 50 runners-up received a Nintendo Wii Game System and accompanying The Last Airbender video game. All guests who booked their stay through the sweepstakes, received complimentary The Last Airbender prize packs upon check-in, each containing five unique toys representing the movie’s central themes.
Differences Between Series and MovieEdit
Many aspects of the show are noticeably missing in this movie. For example, Zuko's scar had been smaller. Also the Kyoshi Warriors, Bumi, and Jet are missing. The ending to the show and movie are radically different, in the movie Aang does not merge with the Ocean Spirit, instead he causes a tsunami that scares away the Fire Nation fleet. Instead of returning in eight months, Sozin's Comet is due to return in three years time. Firebenders also can not generate their own fire, with Iroh being the only known exception. Whether this will affect lightning generation is unknown.
Furthermore, Avatar Roku's role in the series as Aang's spiritual guide is given to the Fang in the film. The names are pronounced with the actual Asian phonemes, instead of the English adaptation used in the series. In the series, Katara gives the Earthbenders their freedom, but Aang does that on the movie instead, and they're imprisoned on the ships so they don't Earthbend in the series, however in the movie they're imprisoned in the mountains but still lose their hope. The Waterbending scroll was given to Katara by the former prisoners in the Earth Kingdom in the film, but she steals it from pirates in the series.
Despite praise for its visuals, design, and special effects, The Last Airbender has received negative responses from critics in the United States for Shyamalan's poor direction, pacing, and screenplay. It currently holds a 8% rotten rating on RottenTomatoes.com, with an average rating of 2.7/10, and the consensus that "Despite flashy special effects, The Last Airbender squanders the potential of its popular source material on an incomprehensible plot, laughable dialogue, and a joyless sense of detachment.". Film critic Roger Ebert gave the film a half a star, stating that the film "is an agonizing experience in every category I can think of and others still waiting to be invented". It was also panned by the Huffington Post's critic Scott Mendelson, who gave it a D+; A. O. Scott of the New York Times ("'The Last Airbender'? Let's Hope so!"); and Christy Lemire of the Associated Press, who called it a "muddled, messy bore". The film's 3D conversion was also poorly received, with critics calling it unnecessary and poorly done. USA Today gave a positive review claiming that many other critics are bias to the director (Shyamalan) and praised it for using fighting scenes that worked in a children's film. They also claimed its special effects and storyline out-weighed the rushed script and noticed how Shyamalan was succeeding against all odds.
There is ongoing controversy in the Avatar fan community over the casting choices, in part because most of the actors were Caucasian, and the original cartoon is based on Asian culture. Later, actors of Indian, Iranian, Hispanic, and Maori descent were cast. Popular cartoonist Derek Kirk Kim wrote a negative response to the "racist" casting, saying "What if someone made a “fantasy” movie in which the entire world was built around African culture. Everyone is wearing ancient African clothes, African hats, eating traditional African food, writing in an African language, living in African homes, all encompassed in an African landscape... but everyone is white." Jackson Rathbone dismissed the complaints, saying "I think it's one of those things where I pull my hair up, shave the sides, and I definitely need a tan. It's one of those things where, hopefully, the audience will suspend disbelief a little bit."
The casting controversy has sparked a letter writing campaign, "Aang Ain't White" and the creation of a fan protest and boycott website, Racebending.com.
Frank Marshall on TwitterEdit
Frank Marshall, one of the producers of The Last Airbender, has lately opened a Twitter account and been posting information about the film's shooting, as well as answering limited questions from fans. In response to questions about the casting controversy, Marshall wrote: Our vision for the movie is of ONE world, made up of four nations, influenced and inspired by the Asian undertones of the series. This world will have an ethnically diverse cast that represents many different heritages and cultures from all corners of the globe. He later added that the movie cast would be "more diverse" than the TV show, but did not elaborate on what he meant by "diverse." 
On April 20th, Marshall stated, "The casting is complete and we did not discriminate against anyone. I am done talking about it." 
In February, 2009, watchdog group Media Action Network for Asian-Americans (MANAA) sent a letter of complaint to producer Sam Mercer over the film's casting. Pointing out that former MANAA Vice President Edwin Zane served as a cultural consultant for the first two seasons of the Avatar cartoon, MANAA requested that Paramount engage in dialogue with them concerning the ethnicity of the cast.
In March, Paramount responded with a letter reiterating the same claim of "more diversity" than the TV show, pointing out the diverse cultural heritages of a number of actors playing secondary roles in the movie. The four nations represented in the film reflect not one community, but the world's citizens. These societies will be cast from a diversity of all races and cultures. In particular, the Earth Kingdom will be cast with Asian, East Asian and Africans. With this global perspective in mind, we believe we can best honor the true themes, ethos and fantastical nature of the Airbender stories and best capture the spirit and scale of the series to appeal to its worldwide fans. In April, MANAA replied, blasting Paramount for "making rationalizations to white-wash this project hoping to bring in more viewers" and reiterating their request for a meeting to discuss the issue in person. Paramount has not yet responded.
Frank Marshall Interview on Casting Calls
On April 8 Frank Marshall conducted an interview with UGO.com where he showed the original casting calls that did not have the line "Caucasian or any other ethnicity". According to him, other local casting offices distributed the "offending" casting calls with out permission. This statement agrees with M. Night's statement that the doors were open to anyone.