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The Legend of Korra rewatch: book 1, episode 4: The Voice in the Night

This is where the Legend of Korra series really starts to pull away from the standalone episodes. The first three episodes set things up – episode one brought Korra to Republic City and hinted at the problems the city faces. Episode two introduced her to her training, both the traditional methods under Tenzin and the modern methods with her new friends Mako and Bolin. Episode three introduced the series villain, Amon, and demonstrated just what kind of a threat he is.

Episode four attempts to move forward, conducting the last of the setting up and moving the overall plot arc forward.

The problem is there there’s a lot still to set up. There are several threads running through this episode, leaving it feeling disjointed, jumping around.

The threads in this episode can be broken down into three key subplots: Korra vs Amon and her own anxieties; Councilman Tarrlok’s powergrab and manipulations; and Mako’s introduction to and fledgling romance with Asami Sato.

Continue reading The Legend of Korra rewatch: book 1, episode 4: The Voice in the Night

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The Legend of Korra rewatch: book 1, episode 3: The Revelation

With episode three, The Legend of Korra really starts to get into the meat of the plot, and the way it moves from the smaller scale of episode two into the series arc is really quite well done. Episode two was heavily focused on Probending, with Korra ultimately joining the Fire Ferrets as a permanent member of the team. Episode three starts with the Fire Ferrets needing to pay an entry fee for the tournament, a fee they cannot hope to afford – so Bolin takes an opportunity that presents itself, and gets himself into trouble in the process. This pulls Korra and Mako right into Amon’s plot and makes it impossible for Korra to simply train with Tenzin and the Fire Ferrets and ignore the revolution that’s happening in Republic City.

Backing up a little, first, though, when the Krew are discussing the 30,000 yuon championship entry fee, Mako asks for ideas, but then scorns the first thing Bolin suggests – an animal circus starring Bolin’s pet fire ferret Pabu. Having dismissed this idea, rather than ask Korra for suggestions or continue to brainstorm as a team, Mako instead says “Don’t worry, I’ll figure something out. I always do”.

01-pabu-circus-tricks
This and all other images used are the property of Nickelodeon and used here under fair use for review purposes.

Continue reading The Legend of Korra rewatch: book 1, episode 3: The Revelation

The Legend of Korra Rewatch: Book 1, Episode 2: A Leaf in the Wind

Apologies for the delay in posting this. I’ve had some problems with my DVD playing software that are now, hopefully, resolved.

The goal of this episode seems to be to introduce two of the series’ main characters: Bolin and Mako, the probending brothers that make up two thirds of the Fire Ferrets. This has been done with a self-contained episode that doesn’t mention the main conflict in the show – Amon and the Equalists – but it does feature prominently Korra’s core personal conflict, her difficulty in learning airbending, and another major theme, Korra in conflict with a figure of authority. Using these conflicts in a scaled-down version of the overall series is an effective way to establish them and their importance in Korra’s story.

It’s a well-structured episode too. It opens with a reminder of the first episode, narrated by the same voice actor as the probending announcer, with the visuals in sepia tone with visual artefacts to give it a feeling of being old, a nice little nod to the time setting of the series, an industrial, almost modern world.

01 sepia opening
All images copyright Nickelodeon. Used under fair use for review purposes.

Continue reading The Legend of Korra Rewatch: Book 1, Episode 2: A Leaf in the Wind

The Legend of Korra rewatch: Book 1, episode 1: Welcome to Republic City

When I first watched The Legend of Korra, I wasn’t too happy with it. I said “I generally enjoyed watching it, but was constantly aware of major flaws in the story” in my first review of the series, and though my second review, just before the second season came out, was more favourable I still didn’t rate it highly.

Now I’ve got the DVDs for all four seasons, and it’s time I re-examined the series. Over the coming weeks I will be examining the show in more detail, looking at the successes and failings in its writing.

Image credit: Nickelodeon
Image credit for this and all images in this blog post: Nickelodeon

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Adaptation Review: The Last Airbender

Introduction

The Last Airbender, directed by M Night Shyamalan, is a live-action adaptation of the western animated series Avatar: the Last Airbender. It tells the story of Aang, a young boy who was trapped in ice for a hundred years. Aang is the fabled Avatar – capable of learning to manipulate all four elements, air, water, earth and fire, in a world where other “benders” can manipulate one element each. It is his quest to correct the imbalance in the world created by the Fire Nation’s invasion of the EarthKingdom and Water Tribes and destruction of Aang’s people, the Air Nomads.

The movie covers the first series of the animation, in which Aang and his new friends, Katara and Sokka, travel from the Southern Water Tribe where Katara and Sokka live to the Northern Water Tribe so Aang can learn Waterbending, dodging Fire Nation forces including the exiled Prince Zuko who wants to capture Aang to restore his lost honour, and General Zhao, who seeks to destroy the moon spirit in the Northern Water Tribe’s city in order to destroy Waterbending, which draws its powers from the moon. The first series, and the movie, end with a battle in the Northern Water Tribe city between the Waterbending defenders and the Fire Nation fleet.

Time constraints and cuts

The film condenses a lot of story into a short period of time. The first TV series consists of 20 episodes of 22 minutes each – for a total run time of over 7 hours. The movie, by comparison, is 103 minutes, less than a quarter of the length. As such a lot was cut. With some episodes in the series that cutting is entirely welcome. But the harshness of the cuts meant that some of the character of the world – in particular the Earth Kingdom through which the characters travel – is lost.

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Review: The Legend of Korra

Warning: this review contains major spoilers.

The Legend of Korra is the sequel to Avatar: the Last Airbender, set some 70 years later, in which the new avatar, Korra, finds herself caught up in a civil war in Republic City and fighting a mysterious masked opponent who seeks to take bending powers from those with bending abilities.

I’ll start by stating that I do not rate the series highly. I generally enjoyed watching it, but was constantly aware of major flaws in the story and probably wouldn’t have gotten far in if it stood alone, without Avatar: the Last Airbender backing it up. By the second half of the series it started to pick up a little in terms of excitement, but left behind many unanswered questions. Continue reading Review: The Legend of Korra