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The Student News Site of University of Chicago Laboratory High School

U-High Midway

The Student News Site of University of Chicago Laboratory High School

U-High Midway

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After reminiscing with fond memories, Class of 2024 graduates in Rockefeller Chapel

Live-action ‘Avatar: The Last Airbender’ adaptation conflicts, complements original series

“Avatar: The Last Airbender” is the latest live-action adaptation after the 2010 movie “The Last Airbender.”

The camera zooms in on the scene: off-white buildings and jagged, icy walls loom above the dark water. Bustling streets with intricately designed props are covered in fires and rubble. A sense of sadness settles in as the characters gaze at the wreckage. A childhood animation brought to life, this is a powerful emotional moment during Season 1 of the new “Avatar: The Last Airbender” live action, streaming on Netflix since Feb. 22.

The live action adaptation reimagines the plot of the first season of the 2005 animated series, but this new eight-episode series proved to be inconsistent in quality, especially considering the lengthy time commitment to finish the season.

With eight hourlong episodes, there is an expectation of quality, and sometimes this expectation is met. The casting for each character fits well and keeps with the show’s diversity, while the backgrounds and costumes are detailed and stunning.

However, the show’s acting and dialogue quality remains hit or miss for most of the season. At times it feels like the show can not decide between its more humorous and character-driven origin or darker action. Characters in the show also constantly spell out their opinions and emotions.

Despite the episodes lasting around an hour, the pacing feels off. Characters who have met merely days before seem to know each other perfectly due to implied offscreen developments. It heavily relies on the fact that viewers have seen the original series. 

The episodes improve exponentially as the series progresses. By Episode 7 it felt noticeably changed. Hopefully, the series continues like this for its next two seasons, which Netflix has already approved.

Between exchanges, characters are seen battling by manipulating the four elements: fire, earth, water and air. Across the screen, earth rumbles and water is hurled as characters dance through these feats of magic, but something feels amiss. The constant need for slow-motion shots becomes repetitive and dilutes the intensity of these action scenes. The “bending” of the four elements occasionally amazes with smooth and fluid motions, but sometimes, especially with setting people on fire, it feels off-putting and the lack of realism takes away from the show.

The show often breaks from the original series, which is expected, yet it breaks from the canon in places that actually hurt the show more than help it. 

Netflix’s live-action version of “Avatar: The Last Airbender” is a conflicting adaptation of the original series, at times holding onto the original series’ charm, while at other times it feels off-putting with odd dialogue and fight scenes.

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About the Contributor
Declan Smith
Declan Smith, Reporter
Declan Smith is a member of the Class of 2027 and a beginning reporter. He started writing during the 2023-24 school year as a ninth grader. Declan is interested in genealogy and participates in the Lab Robotics team. Awards: 2023 Journalism Education Association National Student Media Contests, Boston convention: Excellent, yearbook copy/caption: student life

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