After yesterday’s apocalypse scenario, lets talk about something light, but still with a potential bit of gloom ‘n’ doom: a cartoon.
Later this summer, a movie is coming out, and it’s got me more scared than anything I’ve seen in a while. It isn’t a scary movie. It isn’t a suspenseful movie. It isn’t even a mysterious movie. If we’re lucky, it might have all of those things and be awesome, but I really have no idea. What it is supposed to be is a kids movie that doesn’t talk down to them, a film like Chronicles of Narnia, or the good Harry Potter films. Unfortunately, what we’ll probably get is another flop like Percy Jackson or Spiderwick. What am I talking about?
I am an incredibly lucky person. I went to a college where I met people who like the same things I do, and one of those things was the now-finished, then-unfinished, Avatar: the Last Airbender on Nickelodeon.
It’s set in a world with four nations, each with people who can control one of the four elements: the Fire Nation, Air Nomads, Water Tribe, and Earth Kingdom, and the people who could control these elements were called benders. Each generation, in a dalai lama-style reincarnation cycle, one person is born who can control all four of the elements, and they are called the Avatar. When an avatar dies, they are reborn into the next nation in the cycle. The current avatar was born into the air nomads… then disappeared for 100 years. During that time, the Fire Nation declared war on the other three, and now rules most of the world.
The series was groundbreaking. It found a happy medium between silly kidventures and serious plots that kept even adults engaged. They killed characters, something that I have never seen in a kids show. They didn’t do it graphically, but you knew that you wouldn’t be seeing that character again.
It was pretty epic.
What I love the most is that it told a story, and when it was done… it was done. The creators finished their story and left at the top of their game. They could have dragged it out for forever, watering down what they’d done, plot twists, whatever… but they didn’t. They finished.
Now, the movie is coming out. If you read the fine print on that poster up there, you saw that it’s been directed by M. Night Shyamalan, which has filled the fans of the series (called “Avatards”) with a great deal of trepidation.
I used to love the guy. I figured he could do no wrong. I even went to so far as to say that film was invented for him to tell stories with, and was just waiting for him to show up. (You can probably still find it on my now-defunct Xanga blog from college.) Theeeeeeen came the Village. And the Happening.
Ugh. I’ve kinda lost faith in the guy. This is his last stand: if this film is awful… he’s done, probably, and he’s taken one of my favorite franchises down with him. I’m hoping that Night doesn’t completely rape the series and make a movie that sucks colossally. I have low expectations of the film, but high hopes.
Do good, Night. Do good.