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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    The other ‘Avatar’

    M. Night Shyamalan is releasing a new movie July 2, but it isn’t another thriller. It’s a live-action version of the popular Nickelodeon cartoon show, “”Avatar: The Last Airbender.”” To avoid confusion with James Cameron’s “”Avatar,”” the movie has been named “”The Last Airbender.””

    The cast includes first-time actor Noah Ringer, who plays Aang, the child avatar destined to return balance to his world. Nicola Peltz plays Katara, the young water tribe villager who finds Aang frozen, but alive, in the wastes of her home. Her older brother Sokka, who discovers Aang with Katara, is played by Jackson Rathbone.

    Fans of the “”Twilight”” movies will recognize Rathbone as Jasper Hale. How did Rathbone make the transition from vampire to kung fu fighter? With a lot of fun, apparently.

    “”It was a blast, we filmed for about three hours a day and kind of went through the rundown with kung fu and the various styles of it. And then we had about two weeks of rehearsals in Philadelphia where we ran through the scenes and had the big read-through and everything. It was very natural because M. Night is a very natural director and it was great to work with him,”” Rathbone said in a conference call on Friday.

    When Shyamalan signed on as director, some “”Airbender”” fans worried the movie might stray too far from the humorous cartoon, as the trailer shows a more serious story.

    Rathbone said the film does step away from the cartoon’s light tone, but with good reason.

    “”A lot of the comedic aspect(s) of the television show are in the relationships with the characters. In these extreme circumstances there always have to be those moments of comedy … and at the end of the day we’re able to have those moments of levity within the movie. But yes, it is more serious. In a cartoon it’s a bit more grabbing when someone throws fire at you or is able to manipulate the elements, and in realistic settings … it’s necessary to bring it down and ground the characters a bit,”” Rathbone said.

    Based on the trailer, the “”elemental bending”” — the unique and main method of fighting in the series — looks appealing to children and older audiences. After all, who doesn’t want to see someone wielding one of the four basic elements as a weapon? Unfortunately for Rathbone, his character Sokka doesn’t have that ability.

    “”It’s actually kind of funny. I was working with (Ringer) and (Peltz), and they josh and chide me the entire time about me not being able to bend anything, but I always told them that my superpower is my sharp wit,”” Rathbone said.

    With the visual effects and the accessible coming-of-age story, “”The Last Airbender”” looks to be worth checking out when it is released this summer. While the movie only covers the first part of the series, if it does well at box offices, Rathbone is ready to return as Sokka.

    “”I think this movie will do well and audiences will want to see the next two books made into movies,”” Rathbone said. “”I’m excited and ready for it.””

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