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  • Adaptation Expansion: The novelization had a lot less cut from it and was said to be far superior in comparison.
  • And the Fandom Rejoiced: Aang and Zuko's Polish dubbers returned for the movie as their regular characters.
  • Awesome Music: Say what you want about its lack of faithfulness to the original show's lovely musical style, but James Newton Howard created an incredibly beautiful soundtrack that tries its hardest to elevate the film.
  • Badass Decay:
    • Zuko. He goes from the angsty but determined powerhouse in Season 1 and turns into a whiny, Pirates Who Don't Do Anything type. His Crowning Moment of Awesome from Season 1, defeating rival Admiral Zhao and proving his worth as a Firebender, is instead given to a group of random Waterbenders. And unlike Zuko, they KILL Zhao.
    • The Fire Nation in general. Not only are its soldiers somewhat wimpy ("It really hurt!"), Zhao finds more time relying on the Fire Lord (and the scroll from the great library) rather than be ambitious and power-hungry, Fire Lord Ozai is not as menacing as his animated counterpart.
      • Firebenders can only manipulate pre-existing flames. Sozin's Comet, which previously allowed firebenders to wipe out entire civilizations in a day, now apparently only makes all firebenders roughly equivalent to a normal, non-comet enhanced firebender in the series.
    • While not a full-on badass until the end of Season 1, Katara underwent this via Chickification.
      • Katara more closely resembles the Flanderized Love Freak that the show itself parodied in "The Ember Island Players" than her character in-story.
      • The fact that she seemed five minutes away from tearbending at any moment... really didn't help matters any.
    • Sokka in particular is much closer to his initial idea of being a wannabe macho-man twat as opposed to a clever funny guy, and doesn't crack any jokes throughout the film, or even much of a smile. Sokka's fans were equally unamused.
  • Bile Fascination: Those who joined the Avatar fandom after the release of this movie can't help but be curious to know why it was panned to kingdom come.
  • Dull Surprise:
    • Aang.
    • Katara is even worse. At least Aang shows some emotion for about 2 seconds in the Water Tribe. Katara, however, is (to quote a fan review) "like the secret love child of Keanu Reeves, Kristen Stewart and a brick wall."
    • Sokka as well. He has some moments of emotion, but not as much as is probably appropriate.
  • Eight Deadly Words: One of the most fundamental criticisms of the film, beyond whatever liberties it took with the source material, is that it is generally seen as uninteresting and unengaging.
  • Ensemble Darkhorse:
    • Francis Guinan as Master Pakku was noted by several reviewers to be the one actor to escape the film with his dignity intact, having put real effort and emotion into his scant screen-time in stark contrast to everyone else.
    • Seychelle Gabriel's performance as Princess Yue also was moderately well-received by fans, and Bryan and Mike would later cast her as Asami Sato in The Legend of Korra.
    • Even though his portrayal may not have been entirely accurate to the character he was playing, most critics noted that Shaun Toub as Uncle Iroh was one of the few cast members who put actual effort into their performance.
  • Fan Dumb: To quote many a message board "Where's TOPH?! I'm not watching this because she isn't in it!" (For those unfamiliar, Toph joined the main cast in Season 2, after the material this film is adapting.)
    • On the other hand, a recurring joke in fanart is to draw Toph celebrating the fact that she isn't in this. Here's one example.
  • Fan Hater: With enough numbers and force to equal a veritable religion.
  • Fan Nickname: For the Fight Scene Failure below, the "Pebble Dance".
    • From the same scene, Katara pushing one soldier to the ground and then just standing there doing nothing else is called the "Ka-Tackle".
  • Fight Scene Failure: When the Earthbender prisoners are staging a revolt, we see six Earthbenders moving in perfect precision and choreography, stomping the earth and releasing a mighty battle cry... and a tiny rock barely bigger than a football floats by very, very slowly. A seventh earthbender then launches it at a guard. Now, the scene makes more sense if the six are instead responsible for two walls of earth that block fireballs, but due to the awkward camera angles, coming to this conclusion takes watching the scene several times on a computer.
    • Worse, the fight scenes are all shot with a single camera, with no jump cuts. This leads to the problem of showing the audience a large number of mooks standing in the background, not doing anything while their friends are getting knocked senseless.
  • Germans Love David Hasselhoff: Claimed by the director. M. Night Shyamalan has claimed on several occasions that the film was better received in Europe, and has gone on to claim that American critics "don't get" his European sensibilities. There is, however, very little evidence that this is true, and Shyamalan has only offered personal anecdotes to support the claims that Europeans like the movie better.
  • Ham and Cheese: Aasif Mandvi plays Zhao pretty similarly to how he always plays himself on The Daily Show, only, well... he's evil.
  • Heartwarming Moments: The scene where Iroh gives Zuko advice on how to survive the freezing cold before Zuko leaves for the North Pole is genuinely touching, due to how well the actors acted in that scene, with Iroh showing genuine concern for Zuko's welfare. It's one of the very few moments that actually feels like it's from the show.
  • Internet Backdraft: What's that? The movie wasn't that bad? Tell that to the internet.
  • Jerkass Woobie: Zuko, when he's not yelling or being his general angry self.
  • Large Ham: The Fire Nation seems to be a World of Ham. Seemingly to contrast the Dull Surprise people from the Water nation.
  • Magnum Opus Dissonance: While filming the movie, M. Night Shyamalan claimed that it was going to be his greatest work. All those Razzie Awards beg to differ.
  • Memetic Mutation: Before the movie had even come out, early test screening reviews mentioned a scene that has turned the phrase "punching the fish" into a meme[1].
    • Other gems include the "pebble dance" (the most notorious example of the Flynning mentioned above [2]), the "Kat-tackle" (Katara pushing over a random guard and then just standing there), Zhao constantly mentioning "the secret library!", Ozai's glowing ass (from a screenshot in which the source of light appears to be Ozai's rear end), Yue's line about believing in beliefs, and her "penis hair" (how it looks like when viewed from the back.)
    • "AANG! JUST ONCE!"
    • "X, there is Y under your feet! Why don't you fight?"
    • X scene was cut from the movie because it was too "distracting".
    • "It really hurt!"
  • Mis Blamed: Everyone still insists that M. Night is completely at fault with the movie's shortcomings when in reality, Executive Meddling forced him to cut 25 minutes from the movie due to being too cheap to pay for 3D effects.
    • Though the blame has been shifted back to M. Night after the deleted scenes were revealed to be... less than stellar, potentially worse than what got left in. People blaming M. Night now also say that the studio only cut it down to its short runtime because the longer version was worse.
    • Also, M. Night wrote the entire screenplay with next-to-no input from Brian, Mike, Ehasz or any other writer from the series, who were dragged away from the project by their upcoming The Legend of Korra.
  • Plot Induced Stupidity: Everyone who isn't a part of the Fire Nation suffers from this. Unlike the series, Firebenders (who aren't masters) need an available source of fire in order to bend it. This is all well and good, except none of the other characters ever think to put them out! Granted, some of the fire sources are fairly large, but nothing that couldn't be doused with a little effort. Taken to truly ridiculous extremes in the Earthbender camp when several Firebenders are literally bending from a single source they could not conceivably protect. Someone does give the order to douse the flames when the alarm bells sound... but apparently, they never got around to it, because all of the fires are still going during the battle.
    • Then there's what happens during the Siege of the North. In the planning stage, the Water Tribe said that they needed to douse all of the torches in the city. Fire Nation comes, THE TORCHES ARE STILL LIT. Granted, it would have made a moot point because of all the flaming boulders the Fire Nation was tossing in, but really?
  • The Scrappy:
    • Katara's live-action incarnation had far fewer fans than her cartoon counterpart, mainly for hardly being like Katara is in the cartoon and her actress having a severe case of Dull Surprise. It also doesn't help that the script removed many of her strong Character Development moments and gave most of the rest to Aang.
    • The live-action version of Sokka, or "Soaker" as the movie insists on calling him, is also not very well-liked. Mainly for stripping him from all of his Plucky Comic Relief traits, effectively turning him into a Flat Character who also suffers from Dull Surprise. His somewhat bland and inaccurate character design doesn't help.
  • Ship Tease: The ending of the Oasis fight was significantly more... Zutara-ish.
  • Signature Scene: The Earthbender prison revolt, because it's a perfect showcase of the film's... problematic adaptation of the show. The "Pebble Dance" in particular went into Memetic Mutation.
  • Special Effects Failure: There is one scene at the beginning where Sokka is splashed with water and then is immediately dry.
    • Also, it's an Arctic area and you can't see anyone's breath.
    • The waterbending is sometimes not even animated.
    • The firebending is pretty much nothing but poorly composited live-action fire elements with some CG that even the film version of Spawn would reject.
    • What makes this even sadder is that Industrial Light and Magic were the ones behind the special effects. You know, the guys that did Star Wars, Transformers, Terminator 2 and Jurassic Park?
  • Tainted by the Preview: Part of the fanbase of the source cartoon already declared the movie a lost cause before the first trailers came out. M. Night Shyamalan did not prove them wrong.
  • They Changed It, Now It Sucks: Long before the movie was anything more than a casting list and a few trailers, fans were complaining about changes to the source material. One of the biggest examples from the movie once it finally came out was the pronunciation changes, which Shyamalan deliberately included to make the character names sound closer to their "correct" Asian pronunciations than the Americanized pronunciations from the cartoon. Fans were not pleased.
    • And they weren't pleased because A. "Ah-vatar" doesn't exist because Sanskrit (the language that the word Avatar comes from) doesn't have a stressed "Ah" sound in it and B. the changes in pronunciation were arbitrary and downright stupid (where in the bloody hell do you get "Ki" from the word "Kai"?)
  • They Just Didn't Care: Take a good, hard look at the unnecessary changes, the nonsensical adaptation of the first season, and the downright stupid direction Shyamalan brought the film in. Needless to say, it'll probably be nothing short of a miracle that a sequel would even be greenlit, much less with Shyamalan still attached.
  • Took the Bad Film Seriously: Shaun Toub and Dev Patel, though at least the latter was somewhat close to the original character portrayal.
  • Uncanny Valley: Appa's face in the movie, from what's been seen in the trailers and tie-in toys. Samples here.
  • Unfortunate Implications: This explains most of the commotion. See this page for more examples.
    • Racebending, as horrible as it was, seemed to drown out the heavy sexist tone in the film, too.
  • What an Idiot!: Here's an interesting bit of trivia: Nickelodeon was apparently so confident in Shyamalan, that they gave him full creative control over the film, while giving the creators of the TV show none to speak of. Needless to say, it didn't pan out very well. It's like none of them had even heard of the guy and his career.
  • WTH? Casting Agency: Aasif Mandvi as Commander Zhao?

Notes

  1. He actually stabs it with a knife.
  2. Six earthbenders. Four seconds of kata. One rock, slightly larger than a human head.
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