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The Avatar Sries on Netflix Makes a Great Start

February 27, New York (AP): There will soon be a huge new “Avatar” film, and James Cameron won’t be involved. Although Cameron’s Pandora and “Avatar: The Last Airbender” take place in very distinct fictitious worlds, the two similarly titled rival sci-fi fantasy properties have continued to release new works throughout the years. Two years after “Avatar: The Way of Water” debuted, on Thursday, Netflix will release “Avatar: The Last Airbender.” a multi-part, lavish live-action version with an Asian perspective that blends friendship and adventure with martial arts and philosophy. It’s a potentially risky move because the franchise is fiercely guarded by fans of this realm. The anime-style animation series first aired on Nickelodeon from 2005 to 2008.

Actor Paul Sun-Hyung Lee adds, “It can be intimidating at times because it’s a big responsibility to be a part of a world that is loved by generations of people.” “However, as actors, you don’t often get the opportunity to sort of dive into worlds like that and to be a part of massive productions.” The universe of “Avatar: The Last Airbender” is home to the air, water, earth, and fire tribes. Some have the ability to control or “bend” their particular elements; they can launch enormous water blobs, lift boulders, or zap someone with a wave of flames. The eight-part series opens with the world out of balance. The Fire Nation has been at war for almost a century, trying to take over the planet and essentially exterminate the airbender population in the process. Then, a 12-year-old airbender named Aang who has been frozen for a century is found by a young water bender named Katara and her older brother, Sokka.

It occurs to them that he might be the long-awaited Avatar with the ability to unify the four nations and govern the four elements. Aang declares at the beginning of the first episode, “I never asked to be special.” An elder tells Aang, “The world needs you.” Aang says, “I don’t want this power.” “Which is why you will make a great Avatar,” responds the elder. Daniel Dae Kim, who portrays the leader of the Fire Nation, compares the show to popular franchises like “Star Wars” and “The Matrix,” saying that it follows Joseph Campbell’s hero’s journey. It makes the statement, “I don’t have to be born with a sense of destiny,” relevant to any child or person. That fate could be thrown upon anyone. In a gorgeously rendered cosmos, constructed by Netflix, our heroes ride bison over turbulent waters, and armies engage in combat using staffs, mid-air leaps, and power blasts. Elegant sailing ships abound in port cities, vibrant clothes abound, and romantic and comedic moments intersperse the battle scenes. Gordon Cormier, who was born a year after the first cartoon show finished and currently plays Aang, adds, “It’s such a deep show.”  “It has just incredible stories and so many character arcs, just like the cartoon.” Together with Katara and Sokka, Aang explores their world in search of hints that will let him to unleash his inner Avatar.

There are a ton of incredible elemental manipulations and slow-motion martial arts face-offs. The ensemble was quick to commend showrunner and executive producer Albert Kim for adapting the iconic animation series for a live-action audience while staying faithful to its spirit. “We wanted to do it justice because I’m a fan of the original animated series,” says Lee. “We wanted to make sure the original fans were satisfied, but we’re not just giving them the exact same thing because it already exists beat for beat.” Playing the royal prince of Fire Nation, Dallas Liu, whose credits include “PEN15” and “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings,” claims that Albert Kim assisted them in giving the Netflix series a distinct personality. “I believe we struck a very nice balance between remaining true to the original series while also providing a similar journey for those who haven’t seen it.” The show is riding high on a wave of new Asian-themed TV shows, such as Netflix’s “House of Ninjas,” FX’s “Shogun,” Max’s “Warrior,” and Paramount+’s “The Tiger’s Apprentice.” There has already been a live-action rendition of the “Avatar: The Last Airbender” universe, a 2010 movie directed by M. Night Shyamalan that was widely mocked by fans. “The Legend of Korra,” an animated follow-up, ran from 2012 to 2014.

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