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7.5
" gives "Avatar: The Last Airbender (2024) - First episode" a 7.5."
Written by on 27 February 2024.
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Avatar: The Last Airbender (2024) - First episode

In Avatar: The Last Airbender (2024), the live-action remake of the 2005 animated series of the same name, we follow Aang, a twelve-year-old boy who is the only hope for peace in a global war of the elements.

Water, earth, fire, air... These are the elements that are central to Avatar: The Last Airbender (2024) and also the words with which each episode of the animated series began. We had to wait a long time for it, but after a successful animated series and a less successful live-action film, the live-action series was finally released on Netflix last week. After seeing several trailers, expectations were high. Can the cast match the level of the animation and create a worthy real-life Avatar?

The makers remain faithful to the original throughout the first episode.

Aang (Gordon Cormier, The Stand) is a twelve-year-old airbender trained by the monks in his village. When the Fire Nation starts a war to take over the entire world, the monks decide to tell Aang about his true fate. He is the Avatar, the only person who can control all the elements and the only hope for a peaceful future. Frightened by this vision of the future, he decides to flee into the night on his air bison Appa, not knowing that this will be the last time he sees his people alive. Aang ends up in a storm and, out of self-protection, forms a kind of sphere in which he disappears into the water together with Appa.

As stated in my previous review of Avatar: The Last Airbender (2005), the animated series, I am a fan of the story. I was super curious about this version and fervently hoped to feel the same atmosphere and emotions while watching it. The makers remain faithful to the original throughout the first episode. Many recognizable moments pass by and the cast in many cases closely resembles their animated predecessors. The episode lasts an hour and in it, we get a clear introduction to several important characters and the story.

Avatar: The Last Airbender (2024)
© Netflix


About 100 years later, water tribe members Katara (Kiawentiio, Anne with an E) and her brother Sokka (Ian Ousley) are surprised by finding the sphere into which we saw Aang and Appa disappear so many years earlier. This sphere appears to have been a kind of room in which they slept all those years. Knowing nothing of the war that has broken out and the genocide of their people, they awaken in a new world in which the hunt for the Avatar is still ongoing. What does the Avatar's awakening mean for the world after so many years and will Aang even be able to defeat the Fire Nation despite his young age?

The special effects blow your mind and although this fits very well with the story, it is not always of a good level. For example, I noticed that firebending and waterbending were depicted particularly well, but airbending and earthbending came across less strongly. I also missed some raw emotions at times, especially with Aang himself, which could have made the whole thing more convincing. The sky bison, on the other hand, were wonderfully made and when I saw Appa my heart skipped a beat.

I missed the heartbreaking sadness over the murdered loved ones of all the characters and the good timing of Sokka's humor.

After all the remakes and revivals of films and series from the past, it is not surprising that Netflix is ​​participating in this trend. Avatar: The Last Airbender (2024) goes all the way back to the beginning, making the series easy to follow even for people who know nothing about it. For fans of the original, it is simultaneously a feast of recognition and a new way of telling now that real actors do most of the work. However, it is not really surprising at all. So far, few adjustments appear to have been made and the focus is mainly on the sets, which are beautiful by the way. It remains to be seen whether there will be any unexpected twists in the plot.

I would have liked to be a little more involved in the story. I missed the heartbreaking sadness over the murdered loved ones of all the characters and the good timing of Sokka's humor. Based on the first episode, I am afraid that the hoped-for level will not be achieved. Still, I'm certainly curious about more. After all, the atmosphere is well created and I wouldn't call it a bad start at all. All eight episodes of the first season have been released online at the same time, so anyone who wants can start binge-watching right away. Something that, if we can believe Netflix, is also happening a lot. For me, this start gets a good pass with the hope of an upward trend, especially in the acting and dialogues, in the following episodes.

Avatar: The Last Airbender (2024)
© Netflix
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