Show Not Tell

Tracey and I (and Holly) are fans

of Nikelodeon’s cartoon Avatar: The Last Airbender. Tracey nagged and nagged (you know you did) until we watched all four books with her on dvd.  I’m not a big cartoon fan but Avatar converted me during the first book. There’s enough layers of hidden meaning for an adult to watch and have their interest engaged but still have the elements that delight a child or pre teen.  My fav characters are Uncle Iroh and Toph, although I like all the characters well enough. The series is easily one of the best cartoons on tv, both past and present.

I’m also a big fan of M. Night Shyamalan. He’s a great writer/director and I’m probably one of the few who enjoyed Lady in the Water.

So Iwas looking forward to the big screen version of The Last Airbender. I know there was a lot of angst about the casting. Those who complained about the character’s ethnicity had a point but I’m betting the film makers went with the demographics of who they thought would draw in the biggest audience. I think they should have stuck with the ethnicity depicted in the cartoon but I’m not here to debate that.  Given the scope and freshness of the story (even with translating over to film) they really should have had all the elements of a blockbuster film here but they didn’t.

Maybe it was because he was such a fan himself but M. broke the biggest rule of all in writing: show not tell. When I saw a character start telling of another character’s actions I was willing to give it a pass the first time but then he did it again, and again. I was sitting there thinking, no he didn’t. But he did! Through the entire movie. Gorgeous sets and effects but a story that should have meant something really didn’t.

I feel bad the movie didn’t do well but I was kind of delighted to see recognize part of the problem with the writing. It is a great example of show not tell and will serve to remind me of what not to do when I’m writing.

If you’re a fan of the cartoon you have to see the movie. I would still recommend it even with its flaws.  Just seeing Momo (winged lemur) and Appa (sky bison) in live action was worth it even though we didn’t get near enough of their presence. If you’re not, well I think it’s mostly out of the theatre’s anyway but it is worth a rental. Even better watch the cartoon, too. It is worth the watch (if you can, start from the beginning).

Peace.

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Curio’s Past, Shhh.