Monday, July 5, 2010

The Last Air-OhGodIt'sSoAwful/Steam On, Sean Connery!

And now it's time for Cooking With Sugary Cynic!

(Canned audience applause)

Today, I'm going to show you the fun and easy to follow recipe for a horrible, awful abomination of a movie!

First, take an original and unique show:

Add in one dipshit who doesn't know what he's doing:

Make use of said dipshit and scoop out all the humor, heart, soul and goodness from the original show. Replace with stilted dialogue, crappy voice-overs, poor editing and robotic, possibly brain-damaged actors:

Also, it's unnecessary, but you can make a point of letting everyone know your recipe has a specific ingredient in it:

And then be sure to remove any trace of that ingredient from your dish without telling anyone.

Finally, let it all stew in it's own juices for an hour and a half and you should finish with:

Viola! A perfect pile of crap!

As you can most likely guess, unless you're M. Night Shamalamadingdong, Last Airbender is bad. Actually, bad isn't even a fair statement. I've seen plenty of bad movies, and many shitty movies besides. This movie was so awful that even mining it for comedic value was an exercise in headachery and sadness. Why? Well two reasons, one: I have a bit of stake in this because I love the original cartoon, it manages complex themes with cute humor, great animation and music, and a fresh and interesting storyline with compelling characters. The movie of those things (a good soundtrack). Two: This movie is like some kind of horrible simulacrum of the show. It looks like the show, but it's not. It also seems to be a movie, one filled with actors. But it's not. It's a strange empty shell full of lifeless acting and wooden dialogue. It's detached, uninterested in itself. Soulless. Given a choice, I would rather watch the incomprehensible mess that is Highlander 2 than sit though this crapfest again. Because yes, Highlander 2 is bad. Very bad. But it's still has feeling, it has a heart. Last Airbender does not. Somehow, through some dark and horrible process, M. Night removed the heart from his Frankenstein's monster of a movie.

"But Sugary Cynic," you might say, "surely it can't be all bad!" First off, never question my authority! Secondly, oh yes it can. It's not enough that M. Night decided to cast white people in roles for not-white people. He surrounds white Sokka and white Katara with a village full of Inuit people. Obviously then he knows Inuits exist outside of the cartoon world. Why not hire some to be the main characters? Or if you're going to whitewash, go the whole hog and make the entire village white instead of making white Sokka and Katara look like foreign exchange students. Also he changed the pronunciation of the character's names. To make them more Asian. Yeah. Because hiring actual Asian actors would not have accomplished that task. Instead Aang becomes Ong, Sokka becomes Soak-uh, Iroh becomes Eeyore, and depending on who says it Avatar might still be Avatar or it might be AAAHHvatar. Or Avocado.

Also, it opens with text AND voice-over together. Which is never a good sign. This movie is one giant example of "show, don't tell". Katara feeds us half the fucking movie through voice-over, including bits like "Soak-uh and Yue immediately became good friends" the second the two characters make eye contact. Never mind that they're together for roughly five minutes and exchange maybe two sentences of dialogue with each other. They're close. Because Katara said so. The acting is also just so, so terrible. Jackson Rathbone and Nikola Peltz play the water tribe siblings like they've been dosed with tranquilizers and Noah Ringer just looks like he's constantly on the verge of wetting his pants. And the same can be said of comedian Aasif Mandvi. Even good actors like Dev Patel and Shaun Toub are reduced sucking as they attempt to act around some of the worst dialogue ever. I can name out literally over a dozen lines that I'd be embarrassed to ever have to say, much less admit to having a part in writing them, but I think I can boil it all down to one line, one line that encapsulates all the shittyness that is Last Airbender:

Yue: (In regards to the Fire Nation) "We need to show them that we believe in our beliefs just as strongly as they believe in theirs"

Of course, no movie is without ANYTHING good: the sets are visually stunning, the costumes look perfect, the score is unbelievable and some of the fights are pretty interesting. But that's like saying there's a really wonderful ice cream stand in an ocean of shit. Sure, everyone loves ice cream but it's still sitting in a sea of human feces. So when there's ice cream that's just as good at the Publix across the street, why bother? I will say one thing, to wash the movie out of our brains, me and my friends re-watched a few Avatar episodes and rediscovered just how great the show is. So thanks movie, for sucking so much you re-affirm the awesomeness of the show. Zero catapults out of five, for cutting every cool thing that was in the trailers and a general sucking of ass.

Let's talk about something better now.

I said better!

Although to be fair, anything is a breath of fresh air after Last Airbender. In continuing with our discourse on steampunk, League of Extraordinary Gentleman, while not a very good film, is still widely considered to be a steampunk film, or at least one with steampunk elements. Based on the graphic novel created by the brilliant and insane British cave-dweller known as Alan Moore, it was adapted into a less-than awesome movie starring Sean Connery, the dickish Count from Moulin Rouge and that one really hot dude from the movie where Mandy Moore had cancer

So you say you're a totally superfluous character who serves absolutely no purpose and was added purely as American eye-candy? ...Sounds good to me.

The plot (as it were) goes like this: We are on the brink of World War Uno, some dick called The Phantom who looks like the love-child of a pimp and one of the Huns from Mulan is going around destroying things in various countries and making it look like the work of various other countries in attempt to get nations all frazzled and war ready. So a mysterious dude named M decides this isn't cool and gathers together a league of extraordinary literary characters to save the day! Sound off:

Allan Quartermain! The world's greatest hunter and also supposed to be an opium addict who M rescues from the throes of pants-crapping addiction. But Sean Connery was not down with that, so Quartermain is an invulnerable bad-ass instead

The Invisible Man! But not really! It's just some irritating cockney thief who stole the formula. But he is invisible, which, based on the movie, apparently also makes him bullet-proof...

Dorian Gray! For no real reason whatsoever! Yeah he's basically immortal but he really doesn't have anything useful to contribute except to preen and look pretty like...

Tom Sawyer! We pretty much just went over his deal!

Mina Harker! A vampire! Who has a reflection and can be out in direct sunlight! And also transform into an army of bats. Because.

Dr. Jekyll! (And Mr. Hyde)! He has issues! As well as the ability to drink a serum and turn into his Hulk-esque counterpart! But mostly issues!

Captain Nemo! ...Actually, Captain Nemo's the shit. He's straight up awesome.

So these dipsticks run around in Captain Nemo's awesome pseudo-car and magical sword-shaped sub (yeah) trying to stop The Phantom from doing dickish things and engaging in really inane conversations about tigers and Tom Sawyer awkwardly flirting with Mina. There's a wonderful bit where Mina does a surprisingly spot-on Sean Connery impression, but I can't find a video of it anywhere. From this point in the movie the plot goes to hell, everyone is betraying each other, identities get switched around, we are supposed to believe Moriarty from Sherlock Holmes is now involved and it's really just an incoherent mess. I don't think the writers themselves could tell what the hell they were thinking. It all culminates in the Phantom's arctic base of DOOM, where there are crappily CG'd final battles and Quartermain gets stabified defending Sawyer. I reveal this because it leads up to what is doubtless the dumbest point of the movie:

the characters reflect on their adventures and on Quartermain's grave before taking off, leaving his shotgun on the grave. A shaman appears because why not, and he begins chanting and hopping up and down as storm clouds move in. The hopping and chanting reach a crescendo and then a fist shoots up out of the grave and snags the shotgun. ZOMBIE QUARTERMAIN!!! Roll credits

It's just about the dumbest thing ever. Forever. Except Last Airbender. I mean, obviously they did it because in case of a sequel, they wanted Sean Connery to be in it. But here's the thing: Quartermain doesn't die in the graphic novel! So why kill him in the movie? Especially when that would avoid the whole retarded shaman resurrection? But this is just one problem in a series that plagues what could've been a great adaptation but is instead still a fun movie, just a brainless one. I've been rather hard on it, but I do own it actually because it's just so silly. It's a great film to watch if you need a laugh, earning it two catapults out of five, because at least it ain't soulless.

And that's all she wrote (except for this stuff now, I suppose) good night, and if I ever meet M. Night, I will punch him in the face.

Ong: "I'm the AHvatar. I ran away. But I'm back now."


  1. Can't wait to see Airbender! Everyone hates that film! LXG was a massive missed opportunity. Loved the comics; hated the film. Peter O'Toole should've been Quatermaine!

    Good stuff, as always!

  2. I had read the graphic novel(s) before seeing League of Extraordinary Gentlemen so I knew what I was getting into. We ended almost everything they said with "...of science!" Watch it again and do that. I promise it makes it more bearable.

    I have no idea how to salvage Last Airbender though.

  3. The previews for Airbender looked lame to me, then when I heard about the "whitening" of the film(I have never heard of the cartoon) it just reaffirmed my impressions of the previews. Also, I have yet to like anything that Sham a whatsit has made. League of Extraordinary Gentleman I thought was decent, again, I didn't know there was a book, so if I read that then maybe I would be furious as well.

  4. What's Publix?

    I'm totally drafting a petition for to have the Avatar movie erased from existence.

  5. Unwashed: Bring friends when you do, or a pillow, for the screaming

    Brenda: I actually do like LXG, but like, in the way that someone likes the slow puppy that runs into doors a lot

    Rich: Good call

    Simon: *blink blink* it's a store where one buys groceries. Maybe it's a Southern thing? Either, I'll be sure to sign your position and be first in line for the brain-scrubbing

  6. Publix is a southern thing. In fact, it's mostly a Florida thing. I don't think there are very many store locations any further out than Alabama and Georgia, and if there are, they are waaaayyyy fewer and farther between than they are here

  7. I read your review of Last Airbender and was struck by de ja vu. You and I made the exact same complaints. I'll give you the better credit for getting to the point quicker and more sharply than I did though - well done.

    Every time I re-watch an episode - any episode of ATLA - I get angry all over again at the stinking, rotting, infested mess that MNS inflicted on the world and the damage he may have done to anyone that was curious about the show and had only seen this festering pile of crap instead.

    Nice to know someone else felt the same way I did.

    If you were interested my review is still up at my (mostly inactive) blog:

    Thanks again, nice work.

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