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Netflix’s ‘Avatar’ remake garners mixed reviews

Photo creds: Forbes

The Netflix remake of the animated Avatar series, “Avatar: The Last Airbender,” aired on Feb. 22, earning 21.2 million viewers in the first four days of its release. The remake had a 75 percent audience score on Rotten Tomatoes but faced significant criticism from fans and critics.

Netflix announced the remake in September 2018 with production scheduled to start in 2019. The show faced disruptions in production, with the original executive producers of the remake departing in 2020 due to creative differences with Netflix. Michael Goi and Roseanne Liang joined the production as directors shortly after, which led to production and filming resuming in November 2021. The show features many up-and-coming child actors such as Gordon Cormier and Kiawentiio Tarbell, who played Aang and Katara, respectively, and established actors such as Dallas Liu who played Zuko.

“In this series, I do not think that the production team used the money in the correct places, I do not think the writing is very good, and I do not think the actors have been served very well by the dialogue,” Iain Cowieson, drama teacher, said. “There are also some properties in ‘Avatar: The Last Airbender’ that do not translate well from cartoons to live-action.”

Compared to the animated series, which had 20 episodes, Netflix’s remake only had eight. The start of the show also began differently, with the Netflix remake starting 100 years before the events of the original series. Netflix changed many small details, such as the origins of Katara’s scroll, the addition of Suki’s mother, Yukari, as a new character, and the process that Aang, the main character, found out that he was an Avatar. 

“Compared to previous ‘Avatar’ movies such as the 2010 remake, I noticed that this remake did not whitewash all the characters,” Stella Eu (10), “Avatar” fan, said. “This remake had more diversity because it cast more actors with the correct ethnicities of the original characters, but I think the cost of doing this was sacrificing the quality of the acting, as their choices for casting got less broad.”

The show received a 59 percent critic rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Many of the reviews compared the remake to the original series, praising Netflix’s ability to improve on the series and revive the spirit of the animated “Avatar: The Last Airbender.”  Other critics argued that the remake lacked quality dialogue, with critic Jenna Scherer stating that it was “weighed down by stiff acting, slow pacing, robotic dialogue, touch-and-go CGI, and more exposition than an army of earthbenders can handle.”

“Avatar” fans on social media have also outwardly criticized the remake, with some users arguing that the show removed many beloved aspects of the original animated series, such as the distinct personality traits of some characters. 

“The positive comments on this series on the internet were actually kind of surprising to me, especially since books or cartoons that are turned into shows are often a big hit or miss,” Teresa Chang (11), “Avatar” fan, said. “But from the clips that I’ve seen on the internet, it has great cinematography and good casting with child actors, so I would say it is a show worth watching.”

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Grace Lee, Reporter
Grace is a sophomore reporter for Tiger Times. She is interested in literature, loves watching soccer games with her parents, and listens to pop music during her free time. Feel free to approach her with book recommendations or anything else!

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