The Last Airboner

The Last Airbender

Transformers. Star Wars: The Clone Wars. Dragonball Evolution. It seems like every year I have to come see a big screen adaptation of a beloved franchise that destroys everything I believe in. How is it that so many people can poor so much talent and money into good source material and come up with garbage? In Transformers‘ case, the director ignored the original show to make the movie he wanted; normally a noble maneuver, but probably a mistake when it’s Michael Bay. The Clone Wars, in the hope of appealing to children dumbed itself way too far down (kids, by the way, always liked the Star War). Dragonball Evolution felt like a movie that didn’t want to have anything to do with Dragonball. The Last Airebender, this year’s entry, actually makes an effort to adapt the show for the big screen, but ultimately succumbs to the curse of Shyamalan diminishing returns.

Avatar: The Last Airbender was a remarkable show. It had a colorful, fluid animation style that brought the cast to life and made its take on martial arts very compelling. The show was three seasons, or “books,” long. Set in a world divided into four kingdoms with inhabitants that could wield the elements, the first book showed how two eskimos, Katara and Sokka found the long last Avatar, Aang. The Avatar is the only one who wields all four elements, but he had been missing for 100 years. In his absence, the Fire Nation launched a war against the other three nations. Aang, Katara, Sokka, along with their animal companions Momo and Appa, grow close to each other as they travel north and deal with the assaults of banished prince Zuko and his jolly Uncle Iroh. In the exciting conclusion, Katara grows into a master water bender, Sokka loses his first great love, Zuko begins to doubt his loyalty the the Fire Nation, and Aang loses control, unleashing a shocking Miyazaki-esque assault on a massive Fire Nation armada.

The Last Airbender is a terrible movie. It is set in a bleak, somewhat desaturated world. People certainly can wield the elements, but the martial arts are slow and hardly and intuitive and dynamic as in the cartoon. It’s a lot of laborious tai chi poses with middling results. The film is set in a tiny little world, where characters can travel from glaciers to forests in a moment’s notice. Seriously, if you didn’t already kind of know the geography from the show, you’d have no idea what was going on. In this version, Katara and So-ka, now white kids, kind of stumble into this little kid and instinctively decide to help the boy without ever talking to him. That was a good call, since it turns out the kid is an airbender… Whatever that means. They go on some silly adventures, omitting major characters from the show and literally traveling across the world like it’s no big deal. There are some animals too, but who cares. It not like they were a big deal in the show or anything. They just had entire episodes dedicated to them. Anyway, now the Fire Nation is India, I guess, and Aasif Mandvi is a bad guy. In a boring conclusion, instead of fighting off the armada, Aang just lifts up a wave and everybody bows to him.

If you never saw Avatar before, sitting through The Last Airbender would be a miserable experience. The pacing is absolutely terrible, you’ll have no clue how long it’s been between seen, how far the characters have gone, or why they are acting like they do. Everybody’s totally flat. Instead of being full of life and fun, Aang is just boring and depressed. Sokka, the show’s sense of humor, is harder to watch than Anakin in Attack of the Clones. The only one who is bringing anything to the show is Mandvi, who comes off like he knew well in advance the movie would be terrible. The special effects are fine, but they’re not particularly exciting. For the non-fan, this is a boring, tedious experience.

For an Avatar fan, this certainly is in the running for worst movie ever made. First of all, if you’re making a movie of an American show, don’t change how to pronounce the names. God damn it. Did you even see this show before you made the movie, Shyamalan? Iroh doesn’t even talk about tea. The entire tone of the show is gone, and everything that worked has been bastardized. It feels like someone gave you a basic plot line and you had to guess you’re way through it. Here’s a tip: write more than exposition. That way the characters feel like more than plot devices.

This is a movie that just reeks of stupidity. In their very first mission together, Team Avatar liberate earthbenders who are being held in a metal prison at sea. This makes sense, those guys can’t bend anything, so they are at the mercy of the Fire Nation soldiers. In the movie, the earthbenders are being held in what looked like a village. Despite having greater numbers and being surrounded by dirt and rocks. They needed Aang to show up and give a stupid speech for them to try to fight back. That doesn’t make any sense. What were they thinking?

Honestly, the most mortifying thing is that Shyamalan is probably gonna get a crack at The Last Airbender 2. This is a cartoon that anyone could enjoy, and has the potential to translate to a great live action feature. But under the presumably drunk hands of M. Night, I fear we can only expect disaster once again in 2012.


         Justin Smoak hasn’t exactly lit the world on fire since coming to the Mariners. He was just 1-12 going into today’s game. Now we all know that we have to be patient. But it’s hard isn’t it? We just traded the greatest pitcher ever! But this is what we have to watch, and this picture explains why there’s nothing to worry about with that .208 batting average Smoak is sporting right now.

Pitch number 3 in the picture is a 77 mph change up. Smoak swung and missed. One of the big question marks in Smoak’s short development is that he can’t handle the soft stuff, especially low and away. Since he’s a switch hitter, this means pitchers have been burying these change ups on him over and over and over and over on him. Basically all of his strike outs have come from these pitches, so it is really encouraging to see him take pitch number 4 (a 77 mph change up lower and MORE away) and park it into the right field bleachers. The future is bright.

Welcome to the Jungle


After a long 23 years the 1987 classic Predator finally has a sequel worthy of it’s name. “Predators“, clearly a nod to Aliens has been an idea brewing in the mind of filmmaker Robert Rodriguez since the 90s and now he’s finally got the power to bring it to the screen. Taking a backseat as producer you can still feel the little touches and tweaks of Rodriguez, making it his mission to make this as gory, action-packed, a tribute to 80s action/sci-fi as possible and in this day and age it’s probably the best Predator sequel you could of asked for.

Opening with a group of various assassins falling from in the sky in parachutes on to a leafy alien planet, Predators wisely avoids going into heavy detail why these characters have been gathered here. Rather they draw conclusions as the story develops through various exposition as apposed to lengthy explanation. Adrien Brody, playing against type is Royce, a mercenary who doesn’t seem to give a damn about anyone or anything. He’s accompanied by a rag tag group of various violent backgrounds; including Black Ops, a Cartel enforcer, Yakuza and Topher Grace (wait till the end to see how he fits in.) So what do they do? they wander around in a lush game preserve facing off against three of our favorite intergalactic antagonists in a bloody, balls-to-the-walls, romp that would make Ah-nuld proud.

The action is top notch, the cast is surprisingly likable and the atmosphere is pitch perfect. Part of this can be attributed to the large chunks of Alan Silvestri’s original score being used once again, it’s like it’s 1987 all over again! The Predators themselves are still tackled with traditional makeup effects and there’s no shortage of nods to the original. Surprisingly one of the weaker aspects in my eyes was Adrien Brody. They try so hard to make him a stubborn, s.o.b, loner that he almost doesn’t seem human. He lacks charisma and although I’m a fan of his he’s not right for this movie. Laurence Fishburne also seems misused in a performance that’s solid but playing a character that doesn’t have enough time to be fully developed or fleshed out.

With cash-ins like AVP and AVP: Requiem it’s nothing short of a miracle that a Predator movie could be made in this era and actually be good. It’s nothing spectacular noted by a few messy spots in the script, including the lack of a satisfying ending but it entertains and thrills with a giddy 80s like glee. Not to mention the ending credit music was so appropriate I couldn’t help but laugh. Remember when Little Richard’s “Long Tall Sally” was playing in the chopper in the original? Imagine some overly serious dialogue muttered by Brody fading to black and cutting to credits with that song… It was awesome I almost felt like standing up and applauding, these guys get it.

Barefoot Bandit Busted

I couldn’t’ believe it when news broke this morning that the “Barefoot Bandit” had finally been nabbed. A modern day folk hero much in the vein of Frank Abignale (famous counterfeiter/fugitive in the 60s) or D.B. Cooper (only successful plain hijacker in history) yes Colton Harris-Moore was a criminal but there’s something about his story that seems larger than life, almost of mythic proportions.

Briefly filling you in, if you’ve been living under a rock for the last year or so, Colton Harris Moore is a 19 year old fugitive from Camano Island in our very own Evergreen State. In and out of juvenile correction centers since his young teens, primarily for burglary and petty theft, Colton Harris-Moore gained notoriety after a string of almost 100 thefts (mostly around his home state) including bicycles, automobiles, boats and small aircrafts he learned to fly himself. Going from Washington across the midwest, and finally to the Bahamas, the 6’5 Bandit was easily spotted by law officials and apprehended earlier today after a high speed boat chase.

Is it wrong to support Colton Harris-Moore or view him as a folk hero? Well it’s a little much but looking at the circumstances he doesn’t sound like a bad guy, just misguided. A textbook neglected child, abused by his father, it’s no surprise he turned to a life of crime but what is surprising is how smart this kid is. He learned to fly a freaking plane on his own! While evading and constantly duping law officials! He made a clown of everyone for such a long time that you have to admire his street smarts and survival skills. Not to mention he never harmed anyone, on one occasion he even left $100 dollars at the doorstep of a Raymond, WA (Holla) Vetrinary clinic with a note reading “Drove by, had some extra cash. Please use this money for the care of animals.” There’s got to something good inside this crafty criminal.

On the other hand I’m sure I wouldn’t be quite the fan if he’d stolen my car or broken into my house. All in all I think it’s an amazing story, almost a modern day tall tale… That’s true. With all those burglaries it seems very likely that he’ll be looking at 10 years at the least and I base that off of absolutely nothing. I don’t know but I kind of feel bad for the guy… But I’m sure he’ll enjoy it when they make a movie about him, Shia Laboeuf anyone? Just kidding.

AJ the Movie


Why it was just earlier this year that I became a fan of the Duplass brothers. Key players in the Mumblecore scene, a kind of film genre involving zero budgets, non-professional actors and improvised scripts. I was impressed with what Jay and Mark Duplass accomplished with so little in their films The Puffy Chair and especially Baghead. Nowadays it would appear the duo has worked their way up to working with A-Listers or at least B+-Listers with their latest indie/drama Cyrus.

John C. Reilly, in a more subdued than usual role plays John, a lonely divorcee with some questionable pickup methods. Though with some convincing from John’s ex-wife and still friend Jamie (Catherine Keener) John ends up going to a hip party where out of dumb luck he meets the beautiful Molly (Marisa Tomei) but right from the get go John can see that Molly is hiding something. After some stalker like snooping John soon finds out that Molly is immensely attached to her stay at home 21 year old son Cyrus (Jonah Hill). A not so typical mamma’s boy, Cyrus is hardly comfortable with a new addition to the family and stops at nothing to break up John and Molly.

First off I got to say Jonah Hill is best part of this movie. Coming off like some kind of warped Oedipus type, he shows the most range in any role he’s had yet and easily has the most laughs. While on the topic of Cyrus I have to say my friends and I couldn’t stop laughing at how much Cyrus reminded us of our friend AJ. Not because AJ is an overly clingy mamma’s boy but due to the fact they’re both aspiring electronic musicians and they bare a slight resemblance. It was strange watching Cyrus display his electronica music, I suppose art imitates life or something.

Really what I wish Cyrus had more of was laughs. I know it’s a drama that’s trying to feel believable and natural but with such a silly premise I would of liked to see some more wacky antics from John C. Reilly or Jonah Hill. Also I’m not sure I was too impressed with the Duplass brother’s continuing to utilize mumblecore camera work. I can see why they enjoy heavy zooming as it almost gives the film a documentary style but hear it just felt sloppy. Their editing continues to confuse me a little as well with their use of occasional jump cuts but I still enjoy their films and look forward to what they’ll do next.

C.A.T.: Let It Be

The Replacements – Let It Be (1984)

The year was 1984, and although the world wasn’t quite the dystopian society George Orwell had predicted, the pop charts were ruled with an iron fist by mostly bland synth-pop. Fortunately, bands like Husker Du and Minutemen were fighting this totalitarian lameness by turning their brand of hardcore punk into the highly ambitious double albums Zen Arcade and Double Nickels On The Dime respecitvely. Meanwhile, Minneapolis’s The Replacements stepped in with an album whose ambition came from combining the spirit of hardcore with pop melodies, all while lifting an album title from the biggest band ever.
The Replacements really were never cut out for the hardcore scene, and you can see glimpses of Paul Westerberg’s knack for writing poppier material on their earlier albums, but Let It Be is where Westerberg and the rest of The ‘Mats truly hit their stride. There are still punkier numbers on the album such as “We’re Coming Out” and “Gary’s Got A Boner”, and I’ll admit that those songs aren’t masterpieces or anything, but it’s kind of OK considering The Replacements’ imperfections were always part of their charm.
Let It Be‘s opening track “I Will Dare” pretty much sums up The ‘Mats newfound ability to construct a perfect pop song, and even features a guitar solo by R.E.M.’s Peter Buck. The other songs that really make the album great are the plaintive ballads like “Androgynous” and “Sixteen Blue”. Westerberg really taps into the kind of teenage disillusionment worthy of John Hughes, in fact it’s a shame he never used any Replacements songs in any of his movies.
It seems that there are a lot of people that consider Let It Be to be The Replacements finest album, but for me 1985’s Tim will always be their greatest achievement. I just remembered I originally acquired this album by borrowing it from John’s mom, that’s kind of weird.
Favorite Tracks: “I Will Dare”, “Androgynous”, “Unsatisfied”

Louie, Louie

Yesterday I finally managed to catch Louis C.K’s new series on FX (It premiered last Tuesday) and I have to say this is not your typical sitcom. Rather than being a conventional program that follows a straightforward narrative Louie is more like a collection of short film’s blended together with a stand up comedy routine. The result is a bold concept that is quick to the punch but also relatable to the common man. It’s a show that relies on the strength of the writing and luckily Louis C.K. seems to have his formula of observational humor down. Making himself as pathetic and morose as possible you can’t help but get behind him in his daily misadventures.

The first episode covers some amusing topics including Louie volunteering as chaperone on a field trip gone terribly wrong and his embarrassing attempt to return to the world of dating. The second episode is intriguing as half of the episode revolves around a single poker night conversation and yet it works. I actually care about what these characters have to say because they seem completely natural. Who would of thought Louis C.K. had such ability as a writer/director? It’s like watching scenes from a witty independent dramadey. The only problem is the show feels too short within the 23 something minute format.

So this is one I will definitely follow, it’s a little nugget of originality in today’s bloated TV world that shouldn’t be ignored. Let’s just hope FX doesn’t drop the ball on this one