I did go out to see The Last Airbender last Saturday with the family. It was awesome! Go watch it. Don't listen to other reviews (except this one, of course!).
I've been trying to figure out why I love Airbender so much. It's based on a cartoon series by NickToons (Avatar: The Last Airbender). Even if they've had to really shorten Book 1, all important elements are present and I can't wait to see the next 2 Books brought to live-action.
So, what's so great about it? First of all - the concept of "bending". There are 4 nations - Air, Water, Earth and Fire. Some talented citizens of each nation has the ability to control their native element with martial arts. Absolutely awesome to behold! Watch the sequence where Aang (and the gang) free the Earthbenders against the Fire nation troops. All 4 bending elements are used.
In every generation, there is born an Avatar that can control all elements. He keeps balance in the world. The Last Airbender is Aang's story.
The truth is, I'm a big fan of the cartoon and it spills over to the movie. If I had not seen the cartoon, I'm not sure if I'd love the movie so much. I love the cartoon so much because of the cosmic truths told in the story. There's a lot of Eastern Mysticism around the story but the depth of the stories and the philosophy around it is amazing.
What's missing in the movie?
Aang's childhood. In the cartoon, he's a silly kid. He laughs a lot and loves games. He did not want the responsibility of being the Avatar get in the way of that. And it was a big part of his development into the Avatar.
Sokka. He was such a big personality in the cartoon. Since they removed the comedy, it seemed they removed Sokka as well.
Music. The cartoon always had ambient music and sound that was distinct to the series / book.
They changed the pronunciation of some characters names. Aang, Iroh... It was weird.
I hope the other Airbender movies get made and incorporate more Cosmic Truths. I hope it touches hearts like the cartoon did mine.