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Avatar: The Last Airbender (2024): 5 things we love

Gordon Cormier as Aang stands in the snow with one hand raised and the other holding a stick in Avatar the Last Airbender (2024)

Avatar: The Last Airbender (2024) is out on Netflix! Here are 5 things we love about Aang and the gang’s live-action adventure.

Avatar: The Last Airbender has finally hit our screens and the reviews are flocking in for Netflix’s adaptation of the hit 2005 animated series. Sure, some of the dialogue is a little clunky and the acting left something to be desired in parts, but we wanted to focus our attention on 5 things we love about the live-action version of Avatar: The Last Airbender. All-in-all, we think they did a fantastic job at adapting such a beloved source material!

5 Things We Love About Avatar: The Last Airbender (2024)

1. The Visuals: Bending come to life!

Kiawentiio as Katara shows us bending come to life - one of the things we love about the series - in Avatar: The Last Airbender (2024)
5 Things we Love about Avatar: The Last Airbender – Kiawentiio as Katara in season 1 of Avatar: The Last Airbender. (Netflix © 2024)

We simply have to start with the visuals. This is always where the live-action remake was going to live or die. When adapting from another visual source material, you really have to add something new to proceedings, otherwise why do it at all? A live-action version of Avatar: The Last Airbender gave us a chance to see a more immersive bending of the elements using modern CGI – and it looked incredible! Fire, water, earth and air – all four forms of bending were brought to life in unique, imaginative but realistic ways.

That allowed for some incredible fight scenes that leap out of the screen in a way the original animated series simply could not achieve. The cinematography team of Michael Goi, Stewart Whelan, and Michael Balfry, as well as all the CGI animators, deserve a huge round of applause for what they achieved here. The visuals of Avatar: The Last Airbender are the heart and soul of the Netflix adaptation.

2. Gordon Cormier: An Avatar worthy of the name

Gordon Cormier as Aang is one of the things we love about Avatar the Last Airbender (2024). Here, he meditates with Kiawentiio as Katara standing behind him
5 Things we Love about Avatar: The Last Airbender – (L to R) Kiawentiio as Katara, Gordon Cormier as Aang in season 1 of Avatar: The Last Airbender (Netflix © 2024)

There has been some criticism of the child acting in Avatar: The Last Airbender but we thought Gordon Cormier did an outstanding job as Aang throughout the series. It should not be underestimated how heavy a burden it is to carry a multi-million-dollar Netflix series on your back at age 14. Cormier carried that burden with all the agility of a master Airbender. The character of Aang is so intrinsically linked to his ability to connect with people, and Cormier’s smiley charisma draws the viewer in from his very first appearance on screen. As a lead character, your performance has the ability to absolutely tank a series, but Cormier was uplifting and entertaining throughout. Good job, Gordon!

3. Avatar: The Last Airbender Takes a lesson from Harry Potter

Maria Zhang as Suki and Tamlyn Tomita s Mayor Yukari stand next to each other looking in front of them in Avatar The Last Airbender (2024)
5 Things we Love about Avatar: The Last Airbender – (L to R) Maria Zhang as Suki, Tamlyn Tomita as Mayor Yukari in season 1 of the show (Robert Falconer/Netflix © 2023)

One aspect of Avatar: The Last Airbender that really impressed us was the casting around the core three characters. Aang, Katara (Kiawentiio) and Sokka (Ian Ousley) were always going to have to be young and relatively inexperienced actors due to the ages of their characters. The trap that some TV shows can fall into is surrounding them with a merry band of similarly unknown actors. However, the Avatar casting team pulled a masterstroke with some of their casting. It really reminded us of the original Harry Potter films.

You had Harry, Ron and Hermione as your central, young, inexperienced trio, but by surrounding them with a stellar cast of British heavyweights, you elevate the overall acting performance within the film. The likes of Daniel Dae Kim (Fire Lord Ozai), Ken Leung (Commander Zhao), and Paul Sun-Hyung Lee (Uncle Iroh) all provided a steady, often scene-stealing level of talent to accompany the youngsters, which was undoubtedly needed to drive the storyline. Even a lot of the other actors, including Danny Pudi (The Mechanist), Maria Zhang (Suki), and Amber Midthunder (Princess Yue) were cast perfectly for their smaller roles.

4. Cameos and Easter Eggs for the OG fans

James Sie as Cabbage Merchant in season 1 of Avatar: The Last Airbender, where one of the things we love about it are the many cameos
5 Things we Love about Avatar: The Last Airbender – James Sie as Cabbage Merchant in season 1 of Avatar: The Last Airbender (Netflix © 2024)

Avatar: The Last Airbender was littered with easter eggs from the original animated series. What was a real treat for original fans was in no way isolating for first-time watchers, so the production team really got the balance right here. The iconic cabbage merchant makes more than one appearance, even voiced by the original animated actor – James Sie. King Bumi’s pet goat gorilla, Flopsie, makes an appearance as a statue. Aang crashes his glider into a statue in homage to the animated title sequence. Patrons of the Spirited Away bar recount stories they have heard about the Avatar, all of which refer to animated episodes the producers couldn’t quite fit into the live-action series.

Katara enjoys a bowl of her favourite delicacy, stewed sea prunes. Katara and Sokka’s grandmother performs the famous animated introduction: “But that all changed when the Fire Nation attacked. Only the Avatar mastered all four elements. Only he could stop the ruthless firebenders. But when the world needed him most, he vanished.” And finally, we were even treated to a short but sweet rendition of Secret Tunnels! (Although, we would have loved a full song).

5. Staying True to the Source Material

Dallas Liu as Prince Zuko stands with his arms crossed, with Arden Cho as June and Paul Sun-Hyung Lee as Iroh at his sides, in season 1 of Avatar: The Last Airbender
5 Things we Love about Avatar: The Last Airbender – (L to R) Arden Cho as June, Dallas Liu as Prince Zuko, Paul Sun-Hyung Lee as Iroh in season 1 of Avatar: The Last Airbender (Robert Falconer / Netflix © 2024)

It is fair to say that many fans were worried when original showrunners Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko parted ways with the Netflix series. When you transform 20 short, animated episodes into eight cinematic, live-action episodes, you are always going to have to cut things. Entire episodes and storylines were lost along the way, but I think the Netflix team stayed true to the general spirit of Avatar: The Last Airbender. At its heart, the focus was always on Aang and his friends’ wholesome dedication to helping the little guy, while we also got a wealth of depth when it came to Prince Zuko (Dallas Liu). The production team actually went a lot darker than we expected them to with regard to the fire nation and that really paid off, painting them as an enemy worthy of our fear on screen.

Honourable mention: Avatar Kyoshi

The Avatar Kyoshi (Yvonne Chapman) scene is one of the stand-out action sequences in the entire series, as Aang allows the former Avatar to inhabit his body for a short while. The glowing eyes, the incredible costume, and the fluid fighting style – it was a joy to watch!

That leaves just one thing on our minds… when does Book Two get here?!

Avatar: The Last Airbender is now available to stream on Netflix. Find out all you need to know about Avatar: The Last Airbender!

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