Avatar: The Last Airbender: The Netflix series disappoints (review)

The live-action series “Avatar: The Last Airbender” was released on Netflix.

Avatar: The Last Airbender: The Netflix series disappoints (review)

The live-action series “Avatar: The Last Airbender” was released on Netflix. We saw it before its release, and here is our review.

After the pleasant surprise that was the adaptation of One Piece, we were impatiently awaiting the live action remake of Avatar the Last Airbender. It must be said that the original animated series was a huge success and ticked all the boxes to offer high quality live action episodes: lots of action, humor, all tinged with an effective plot and endearing characters, the recipe of the original was perfectly mastered and had won over millions of spectators. By adding this to real shots, there was reason to hope for a new spectacular and successful adaptation.

So we really wanted to like the Netflix version of Avatar, the Last Airbender, put online this Thursday, February 22, 2024. And fortunately, not everything is to be thrown away, far from it. Because after the failure of M. Night Shyamalan's remake, this new adaptation transcribes the issues and the universe of the series in a relatively effective way, using real shots to offer Netflix subscribers the great show expected in a plot which combines the four elements.

Here, the dialogues are often too didactic and the rhythm is not controlled between sometimes cumbersome lengths and shortcuts taken to the detriment of the characters and their writing. The Netflix series often seeks its tone and often turns out to be much more serious and mature than the original, while the richness of Avatar lies in its sometimes disarming ability to handle humor and lightness without omitting dramatic or even tragic scenes.

If we sense an effort on the part of the screenwriters to transcribe as faithfully as possible the rich universe of Avatar the Last Airbender, especially from the point of view of the sets and costumes, the quality of the special effects is not not always there, especially among creatures. Also on the casting side, it’s very uneven. If Gordon Cormier makes an endearing Aang and Ian Ousley proves convincing as Sokka, the rest of the casting struggles to convince. As a result, the series sometimes lacks soul, a key element of the original saga.

If Avatar: The Last Airbender has every chance of attracting newbies to the program who have not seen the animated series, it may prove more complex for fans of the original work. The live-action series, like the animated series, are both available on Netflix if you want to have fun comparing.

Avatar: The Last Airbender takes place in a fictional universe, inspired by Chinese folklore, in which the nations of Water, Earth, Fire and Air lived in harmony thanks to the Avatar, master of the four elements who guaranteed balance. But when the Fire Nation decides to take over the world and decimate the Air Nomads to remove Aang, the new Avatar before his ascension, everything ends.

Prisoner in the ice for a hundred years, 12-year-old Aang is however freed by two members of the Water tribe, Sokka and Katara. To stop the Fire Nation, the three friends then go on a quest so that Aang, who only controls the element of Air, can learn to dominate the other three elements to restore peace.

Originally, Avatar: The Last Airbender is an animated series released in 2005 which was a real hit in the United States. On average, 7.6 million viewers gathered in front of television sets to follow the adventures of Aang and his friends. So much so that the series is entitled to a sequel, The Legend of Korra, but also to a live action adaptation by M. Night Shyamalan released in 2010. The latter, however, will be far from unanimous and will be decried by critics