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First reviews for Netflix’s Live-Action Avatar: The Last Airbender are in - but is it any good?

Prepare for more action sequences than your telly box can handle

First reviews for Netflix’s Live-Action Avatar: The Last Airbender are in - but is it any good?
Danielle de Wolfe
22 February 2024

The wait is finally over. Yes, the first reviews for Netflix's hotly anticipated Live Action Avatar release are in - and it's a series that's dividing opinion.

Netflix’s all-new Avatar: The Last Airbender series has landed on the streaming service, brought to you direct from executive producers Albert Kim and Dan Lin.

Made popular Nickelodeon animated series of the same name, the 2005 series captured the hearts of a generation.Reinvented by director demi-God M Night Shyamalan in 2010 with his film The Last Airbender, the big-screen remake was, unfortunately, deemed something of a commercial flop.

Now, Avatar returns in live action series form, almost two decades on from the original acclaimed release.

Led by Gordon Cormier as Aang, his character is a recently de-thawed boy who walks the planet after a hundred years trapped in ice.

Awoken to a near unrecognisable landscape, we discover he is the Avatar, in a world where a genocide has seen his kind wiped off the face of the planet.

The Avatar holds the power to control all four elements - but can he restore balance in a brutally scarred world?

Not all outlets seem to think so, with critics divided by the release.

Early reviews for Netflix’s Live-Action Avatar The Last Airbender are in - but is it any good?

Collider says: "The problem with the Netflix series is that there simply isn’t enough time to build that same rapport with the audience. Its eight episodes hit the big highlights of the original show, but miss all the small detail that makes those scenes soar."

Digital Spy's David Opie writes: "Netflix's live-action remake isn't perfect, but if you look past the controversy and open your mind to it, Avatar: The Last Airbender is a fun, addictive return to one of fantasy's most exciting worlds."

But Looper concludes that: "No amount of visual effects could make this live-action remake more dynamic to young eyes than the vibrant, hand-drawn animation — no matter how much the creators have attempted to replicate several scenes to the letter."

Meanwhile, The Verge writes: 'Netflix’s live-action Avatar has its heart in the right place, but its pacing and uneven performances leave a lot to be desired... it’s clear everyone involved with the show wants to be more than its infamously whitewashed cinematic predecessor, and in some cases, it succeeds."

It goes on to add that the "new Avatar is another example of Netflix turning a beloved animated property into something that feels deeply at odds with what people loved about the original." Ouch.

According to The Hollywood Reporter: "It gamely tries to incorporate the lessons of both while forging its own darker path forward. If the effort is admirable, however, the execution is decidedly not.

"Rather than breathe fresh life into a familiar world, this Avatar serves only to remind that some beloved properties might be better left on ice."

But it's not all bad news, for The Guardian's Jack Seale gives it a four star seal of approval.

"What a thrilling ride," writes the critic, adding: " The Airbender franchise has confidently revived itself; this won’t be the last we see of it."

Variety adds that "although the series is far from the mess that was M. Night Shyamalan’s ill-conceived and white-washed film adaptation, it will leave fans wishing the streamer had left DiMartino and Konietzko’s masterpiece alone."

Now that's more like it.

Avatar: The Last Airbender is available to stream on Netflix now.