Saturday Night Movies
Good media is too important not to celebrate - A list of upcoming films, films everyone should see and films I don't want to forget. - Ben Wright
Damn cameras, they can make you look like anything.
The sequel series to the popular nickelodeon series Avatar: The Legend of Aang (European title) is a more mature story set seventy years after Aang’s journey. Both series are set in a world where it’s possible to ‘bend’ the elements water, fire, earth and air, but only the Avatar can manipulate all the elements as well as serving as the link with the spirit world. The Legend of Aang was a perfect’ heroes journey’ where each of the three seasons focused on learning an individual element and ultimately leading towards the showdown with the evil Fire Lord. It was a series that focused on exploring morality, the nature of good and evil, resolving inner conflict, friendships, forgiveness and revenge while still making it a funny and great fun. I can’t think of a show that has dealt with such adult themes and responsibilities in such a way that made it accessible for kids and complex enough for adults to enjoy. The Legend of Korra is a great follow up, but it fails to focus its story with the precision of its predecessor and often shows Korra making questionable decisions without learning from them.
This time the themes are even more adult with topics like terrorism being the main focus of this season. However, for the first half of the season, this theme is a background issue. Now set in an a 1920’s style, Avatar blend between New York and San Fransisco, Republic City has new technologies and new media meaning Korra has to deal with similar distractions to todays entertainment industry and news reporting. This leads to a drawn out story centering around a ‘Pro-Bending’ sport that turns the show into a teen drama rather than the responsibilities of the Avatar in training. Of course The Legend of Aang extensively covered the training process so Korra is rightfully set up as an Avatar who had mastered three out of the four elements as a child, however, there is more to being an Avatar than just the elements. The Avatar has the responsibility of bringing peace and order to the world and responsibility is something Korra sorely lacks. The Legend of Korra seems more focused on the traditional fight between good and evil until its last few episodes and rarely delivers the complexity of characters seen in The Legend of Aang.
The over-arcing story focuses around the Equalists, a non-bender counter group lead by the mysterious Amon who increasingly employs terrorist tactics to battle benders and gain support in the city. Some great story threads dealing with the appropriate response to the terrorist group and the effects on the public rarely place Korra in the middle and barely push her to make decisions in the moment. Having said all that, the final act is as epic and enjoyable as the stories of Aang and the series does offer a familiar level of complexity that make a series like this so good. It’s also most enjoyable to watch flashbacks of Aang as a fully grown Avatar and see how the events of the original series have shaped the world we see in Legend of Korra.
A shaky beginning and an unfocused middle that made limited effort to teach Korra what it meant to be the Avatar, (in my opinion, these are the greatest lessons that kids could watch in a kids show) but the last three episodes were really worth the watch. It is understandable that the writers wouldn’t want to re-tread old ground by training a new Avatar from scratch, but this series sets up opportunities to explore more complex themes which hopefully will be dealt with in future seasons. The bending is great to watch, but Avatar had a great way of explaining moral issues without patronising the audience. I hope it continues to do this just as well as it has before.