The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

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“Avatar: The Last Airbender:” A Childhood Classic Brought to Life

This brand new series gives fans of the original animated series something to smile about.
Photo Courtesy / Youtube Netflix

“Avatar: The Last Airbender” is a reimagined adaptation of the award-winning animated series released almost two decades prior. The series, released on Feb. 22, is a family friendly story about companionship, perseverance and sacrifice. 

There are usually split opinions about animated classics coming to life, and that remains true with the release of this show. It received mixed reviews when it first released but fans must understand that it’s rare for a live action adaptation to live up to the hype that the original animated show or movie had. Nonetheless, “Avatar: The Last Airbender” garnered over 21 million viewers and secured a spot on Netflix’s top 10 in 92 countries within the first four days of its release. While it may not be perfect, numbers do not lie.

Throughout the eight episodes that make up Book One, we follow Aang (Gordon Cormier), a 12-year-old boy — who’s been trapped in a block of ice for 100 years — on his quest to reach his full potential as the avatar and end the hundred year war. He’s also accompanied by his sky bison Appa, flying lemur Momo and two friends, siblings Katara (Kiawentiio Tarbell) and Sokka (Ian Ousley). 

This adaptation follows the same storyline as the animated series with some altered scenes, yet Netflix certainly didn’t forget to include fan favorite characters. They include the Cabbage Merchant (James Sie) and Jet (Sebastian Amoruso). There was even a heartfelt moment between Zuko (Dallas James Liu), and Uncle Iroh (Paul Sun-Hyung Lee), featuring the beloved tune “Leaves From the Vine.”

A positive aspect of this new series is the impressive special effects used to portray the “bending.” Certain people are able to manipulate elements in this show using a power called bending. Not every character has this ability, but those who do can control the element they were born into. 

Firebenders can bend fire, airbenders can bend air, waterbenders can bend water and earthbenders can bend earth. Only the avatar wields the power to master all four elements. Because of the importance that bending plays in the original series, visually appealing bending was one of the most important things to fans of the original show. Netflix made sure that the air, water, fire and earth bending were properly brought to life on screen. 

There are only eight episodes, each spanning about 45 minutes or more. Picky fans will look to critique as much as they can about missing scenes or events, because the animated series has 20 episodes in its first season. Faithful Avatar fans understand that while miniscule scenes were not present, the major ones that create the real meaning of the story were. True fans also appreciate how well done this live action adaptation was compared to the abysmal movie titled: The Last Airbender that was released in 2010. According to the viewers, the cast lacked basic acting skills, editing was terrible and the final product was overall visually unappealing. There aren’t many good things to be said about that film. 

Lucky for fans of the original show, Netflix has already announced that “Avatar: The Last Airbender” will be returning for seasons two and three. This is amazing considering that’s how long the animated series ran. Fans now have something to look for in the future as they enjoy the commendable job that was done with the first season of this series.

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