First of all! Happy 4th of July to my U.S. friends! Hope you’re having a great day.
Then, I also want to thank everyone who jumped to book Fridays. You ladies and gents are awesome.
So yesterday I (finally?) got around to watching M. Night Shayamalan’s The Last Airbender.
(Incidentally, he also wrote the script, but I don’t refer to him by name after this.)
And… as cool as the effects looked, I HATED it. Not a little.
I mean… this movie had some serious potential for epicness. Huge scope. Many personalities… etc. etc. and somehow… it sucked.
Not a little.
I got stuck on the outside of the story. I mean, when someone dies in a story and I don’t care, that generally means that the writer has lost the plot.
But that got me to thinking. Why? What got me stuck outside? I mean, I did like the characters, even though I didn’t really get close to them.
I think that was the first problem. If I don’t have a bond with the characters, I’m not really going to be drawn into the story.
But the story itself had a problem. It lacked focus. A lot happened in that movie. That in itself wouldn’t be a problem to me. After all, I have a lot happening in my story too. I can’t even see that the events in the movie didn’t have a reason. (Because that would have been way too annoying.)
No. My problem is that things are dropped all over the place and I’m scratching my head as to why they’re happening. Not from the character view (that’s obvious) but from a writer’s view.
And THAT was my problem. The events were dropped into the plot with zero blending. I.e. things happened with very little reference or thought to it later – until it was needed to push the story forward again.
Now, this (in my opinion) could have been done right in two ways:
1) The events take on such a small space that the viewer hardly notices it there until something happens as a result. This gives a viewer that awesome “AHA!” moment.
2) The events have to be mixed in with others, so that the introduction feels organic and so that the thought of that event remains in the viewer’s mind.
What you don’t do is cut from scene to scene (event to event), insert narration in the bits considered unimportant (i.e. the bits not containing the events mentioned above) and then come out at an end that no one cares about because not enough time was spent on making everything count.
While we’re at the narration point: TELLING me that one of the main characters cares for a new character does NOT make me care for the character too. So… that pretty much failed the ending.
So basically, the scenes of The Last Airbender act like having clues in a mystery highlighted to say: “THIS IS A CLUE. REMEMBER FOR LATER.”
Not a good way to write a story, Movie or Book.
Still, I might watch the movie again, because this has some good case study pointers on how not to write duel storyline plots.
Have you watched The Last Airbender?
What did you think about it? What movies have given you some pointers on how (not) to write?