I saw it,
the thing is, (and I say this strictly on the word of others) it's a highly acclaimed 'cartoon', that is well liked by many people, critics and fans alike. It actually has good story, good writing etc. Mind you I'm young enough to have gone to see the first Nickelodeon 'feature film' in theaters, and they have grown leaps and bounds since Harriet the Spy. The issue was M. Night is just not a good director, and the writing was just as bad. There is a scene, in the 'northern water kingdom' that they tell the story entirely through dialogue/narration exposition. This same story could have been told via montage, with 10x the emotion and only slightly longer, and it wouldn't have exuded laughs from the audience.
The writing is just, awful. 'How Awful?' you ask; I'll tell you. On the way out of the theater, (admittedly the Sky walker sound theater, so this may be a bit skewed) an 8 or 9 year old girl was talking to her mother behind me, telling her how bad the dialogue was, and she couldn't understand why she was laughing at some points, all she knew was that she was.
You know somethings wrong, when a pre-teen is calling your writing bad.
It's supposed to be a series, several movies. I honestly, am not sure how thats gonna happen. I guess people will still flock to the film, but when you strive to cast your stars with Indian Americans, instead of finding Indian actors who can speak english, or just white washing the entire film, you end up with people like Asif Mandvi, the amazing 'Analyst'/comedian from the daily show, as the main antagonist, and the Evil king, played by a man I only knew as 'Rabbit' as the likeable heal/experienced guy on 'Trauma' a show that, while like able, is in no way getting any awards for it's acting. At any moment I was expecting Raj from 'The Big Bang Theory' to pop out and play a role, but I guess there's still room for next season. I like Massawyrm's review over on AICN, he sums up a lot of the problems very nicely there.
It is very very pretty.
Oh, and the biggest failing of this film isn't the bad acting (which mostly stems from the directorial style) the bad writing, the bad casting, the lack of forward momentum, or caring for the characters, my least favorite part was the editing. There is some Amazing slowmotion effects with great vfx going on, but the way it's cut, and the way the camera is used, there are about a dozen or more times (not just shots) where they cut to slowmo, and you don't realize it, it seems like people are just reacting slowly, or that maybe that mass of water under the control of the avatar is just moving slowly, because it was in the last shot, Not until the end of the shot are you aware at the attempt of slow motion to be used. When a 200 foot wave is looming over head, and never crashes, thats what it does, it just looms, showing a 'slow mo' shot of it with a man looking up mouth agape, there is no way to process that what you are seeing is slowmo.