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Netflix’s ‘Avatar: The Last Airbender’ fails to live up to original 

Screenshot from Avatar “The Last Airbender trailer” Netflix

Netflix’s live-action adaptation of “Avatar: The Last Airbender” has been a much-anticipated release. While the series offers impressive acting and visual effects, it fails to live up to its animated counterpart’s legacy. 

The series stays true to the original’s core storyline, following Aang, Katara and Sokka on their quest to defeat the Fire Nation and bring peace to the world. The special effects in the live-action deserve high praise, and the production design is also stunning, bringing the bending abilities to life. These elements, as well as the character portrayals, are some of the series’ few benefits.

The casting choices for the main characters are generally fitting and well-portrayed, with actors who capture the essence of their animated counterparts. Gordon Cormier, who plays Aang, brings the Avatar’s signature happy-go-lucky personality to life.

However, the series must catch up in its pacing and character development. The Netflix adaptation changes the plot. One notable moment would include Aang’s original story, in which he decides to run away after discovering he is the Avatar. In the Netflix series, Aang rides his flying bison, Appa, to clear his head and cope with the realization. Sadly, this coincides with Fire Nation’s attack on his fellow airbenders. 

In the original, Azula, the daughter of the Fire Lord, makes a cameo appearance at the end of season one. Netflix decided to introduce the Fire Nation princess too early with a subplot of her trying to earn her father’s approval, a notion she did not feel the need to strive for in the source material. This change ruins Azula’s sadistic personality and robs her of a chilling introduction.

The animated series had a perfect balance of action, humor and heartfelt moments, whereas the live-action adaptation sometimes feels rushed, with important character arcs glossed over or condensed. This leaves little room for the audience to connect with the characters, a crucial aspect of what made the original series so beloved. 

Despite its flaws, Netflix’s live-action show is a more faithful retelling than  M. Night Shyamalan’s 2010 film “The Last Airbender.”  Netflix’s live-action adaptation of “Avatar: The Last Airbender” has strengths, particularly its visual effects and casting choices. 

However, it ultimately needs to catch up in capturing the depth and charm of the animated series. While it may appeal to casual viewers unfamiliar with the source material, die-hard fans may need more emotional resonance. 

Season two will determine if Netflix can learn from its mistakes, as the live-action series has become a refreshing incarnation.

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Jahlil Rush
Jahlil Rush, Production Assistant
Jahlil Rush is a Production Assistant for The Ticker.
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