M. Night Shyamalan defends The Last Airbender; compares to Transformers
I am willing to give M. Night Shyamalan a little leeway for films after THE VILLAGE. THE LADY IN THE WATER was not great but it also wasn't awful. It becomes more difficult with movies like THE HAPPENING, but there is absolutely no excuse for THE LAST AIRBENDER. Having seen a screening with studio executives present, I could easily tell they were freaking out at the piss poor reaction we were giving the adaptation of the popular Nickelodeon cartoon. Even now, with the movie one of the worst reviewed films on Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic, director M. Night Shyamalan is still defending it.
In a recent interview with IGN, Shyamalan was shocked to hear the creators of the Avatar cartoon stated they pretend the live action film never happened. He goes on to explain his perspective in producing the movie and why he thinks it works.
"It's really weird because on the show the average age was, like, nine-years-old," the director said. "My child was nine-years-old. So you could make it one of two ways. You could make it for that same audience, which is what I did -- for nine and 10-year-olds -- or you could do the Transformers version and have Megan Fox. I didn't do that. That would have felt like, 'Well, I'm going to make a movie about a kids show that my 10-year-old is watching and not make it for her. I make it for my guy friends.' That felt like a betrayal of the innocence of the piece. In retrospect, is it too young to go out -- it's like what your intention is versus what they want it to be. Clearly, 10-year-olds -- I go out and 10-year-olds are like, 'That's my favorite show! I love that movie!' Parents come up to me and go, 'They've watched The Last Airbender 74 times!' Those kids, it's for them. It was for them, to talk about mysticism and Eastern philosophies through a 10-year-old's vernacular. So, you know, these are business propositions, which have very little interest to me, of like, 'Hey, the business proposition is to get Megan Fox to be...' You know, 'You should age it 'til it's that.' That wasn't the source material, you know what I mean? Whereas, also, like a Transformers, it's really fascinating, because it's valid for Transformers. You know why it's valid? Because it's the little boys that were playing with them are grown up now. They're the ones who wanted to see Megan Fox. That's absolutely appropriate, you know what I mean?"
While Shyamalan goes on a bit of a rant there, it is easily apparent that he thinks the movie is okay because it caters to children. As a parent, there is nothing I hate more than a movie that treats children like idiots just because they are young. There are plenty of examples of movies created for those under the age of ten that are smart, well made, and still enjoyable for audiences of all ages. THE LAST AIRBENDER suffers from not only having a nonsensical script that deviates drastically from the source material but also has really bad actors delivering really bad dialogue.
What doesn't work about THE LAST AIRBENDER seems lost on M. Night Shyamalan and that may be the most troublesome aspect of all. How can we expect the man once compared to Alfred Hitchcock and Steven Spielberg of making a good movie if he cannot acknowledge having made a bad one?
Shyamalan's next film, THE VISIT, opens in theaters on September 11th.
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