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M. Night Shyamalan defends The Last Airbender; compares to Transformers

06.01.2015

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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Source: IGN

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6:47PM on 06/03/2015
The biggest sin this movie committed was losing the fun and humor of the show
The biggest sin this movie committed was losing the fun and humor of the show
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5:30PM on 06/03/2015
LOL Pixar has great success making kids movies for adults, maybe take a look at one of them. After I head this movie was so hideous I attempted to watch it. It took me three separate tries before I could sit through the whole thing.
LOL Pixar has great success making kids movies for adults, maybe take a look at one of them. After I head this movie was so hideous I attempted to watch it. It took me three separate tries before I could sit through the whole thing.
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10:35AM on 06/03/2015
You know, George Lucas once tried to use the same excuse for Jar Jar Binks who was created 'for the kids'. Didn't make sense then, doesn't make sense now.
You know, George Lucas once tried to use the same excuse for Jar Jar Binks who was created 'for the kids'. Didn't make sense then, doesn't make sense now.
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6:53AM on 06/02/2015

So much was WRONG about that movie!

- The pronunciation of NAMES to begin with...why change what people already knew?
- Aang's comedy...he was hilariously lovable in the cartoon but that was totally lost in the movie
- Kitara's "hair thingies"...nuff said
Ok, the list could go on...but let's name the ONE biggie that flies in the face of M.N.S.'s rant: Every kid I know who loved the cartoon *HATED* the movie.
- The pronunciation of NAMES to begin with...why change what people already knew?
- Aang's comedy...he was hilariously lovable in the cartoon but that was totally lost in the movie
- Kitara's "hair thingies"...nuff said
Ok, the list could go on...but let's name the ONE biggie that flies in the face of M.N.S.'s rant: Every kid I know who loved the cartoon *HATED* the movie.
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+0
12:54AM on 06/02/2015
If it was for 10 year olds, where was all the fun, excitement, and humor of the series? Shyamalan did to Avatar: The Last Airbender what Snyder did to Superman. Sucked the life from it.
If it was for 10 year olds, where was all the fun, excitement, and humor of the series? Shyamalan did to Avatar: The Last Airbender what Snyder did to Superman. Sucked the life from it.
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11:23PM on 06/01/2015
Just because you're making it for 10 year olds does not mean you make it like a 10 year old would make it.
Just because you're making it for 10 year olds does not mean you make it like a 10 year old would make it.
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10:42AM on 06/03/2015
But to be fair, I've met ten year olds with better imagination than M. Night.
But to be fair, I've met ten year olds with better imagination than M. Night.
5:32PM on 06/03/2015
ROFL
ROFL
11:11PM on 06/01/2015
I keep wondering how is Mr. Shyamalan still able to keep on making movies? Any theories? Maybe the studio execs have other reasons for still hiring him? Like "Hey let's get him, it'll probably suck big time but we'll still have a fair profit over it and it'll do wonders to these other things we're selling! Who cares about the fans they never mattered anyway!"
I keep wondering how is Mr. Shyamalan still able to keep on making movies? Any theories? Maybe the studio execs have other reasons for still hiring him? Like "Hey let's get him, it'll probably suck big time but we'll still have a fair profit over it and it'll do wonders to these other things we're selling! Who cares about the fans they never mattered anyway!"
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10:23PM on 06/01/2015
He really did not understand the show at all. First off, it's one of the few more recent cartoons that does NOT dumb down for kids and something even parents would enjoy watching with their kids. The shows writing and animation was so well done that it had appeal to more than just kids. So to make a movie for kids based of something that a much broader audience would enjoy, that's problem 1.
Second problem was skipping a LOT of things that happened in the first chapter. I understand you have
He really did not understand the show at all. First off, it's one of the few more recent cartoons that does NOT dumb down for kids and something even parents would enjoy watching with their kids. The shows writing and animation was so well done that it had appeal to more than just kids. So to make a movie for kids based of something that a much broader audience would enjoy, that's problem 1.
Second problem was skipping a LOT of things that happened in the first chapter. I understand you have time constraints but good writing can at least introduce them for movie 2.
Thirdly, the actors. Speaking of Transformers, looks like Katara switched over
Forth, say what you will about the Transformers movie, but the first one is pretty damn good. It also had humour that Airbender was SORELY lacking Sokka is not the strict don't mess around character type, so why is he in the movie? Things like that.
There are a lot of issues with this movie that he has no one to blame but himself. The only good that came out of it was the effects, the visuals and the score. Don't blame Transformers success for your failure.
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8:31PM on 06/01/2015
Right ok yeah everybody is wrong Airbender is a masterpiece and you're a genius right Shyamlan? Ok, can we please just fire this hack from filmmaking altogether once and for all. I mean for fuck sake he makes Uwe Boll look like Spielberg
Right ok yeah everybody is wrong Airbender is a masterpiece and you're a genius right Shyamlan? Ok, can we please just fire this hack from filmmaking altogether once and for all. I mean for fuck sake he makes Uwe Boll look like Spielberg
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7:00PM on 06/01/2015
The only good thing I remember about this movie is the great score by James Newton Howard. One of his best.
The only good thing I remember about this movie is the great score by James Newton Howard. One of his best.
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8:07PM on 06/01/2015
Agree! He made a score which is unbelievably underrated.
Agree! He made a score which is unbelievably underrated.
6:59PM on 06/01/2015
This is like when you don't do your homework and you blame the dog because it ate your homework. Your movies suck recently, Mr. M.Night.
This is like when you don't do your homework and you blame the dog because it ate your homework. Your movies suck recently, Mr. M.Night.
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6:49PM on 06/01/2015

Right And Wrong

The problem isn't that the movie talks down to its intended audience- it does not. Its that the script, with its poorly written, over verbose dialogue, skips over any and all characterization and sense of awe/ wonder to get to the next action beat. Thus creating zero connective tissue as to why our trio goes from A to B to C, etc. The bad acting and odd accents don't help.

But, from a visual standpoint, the movie is the bee's knees (and I am not joking). The costumes are amazing and very
The problem isn't that the movie talks down to its intended audience- it does not. Its that the script, with its poorly written, over verbose dialogue, skips over any and all characterization and sense of awe/ wonder to get to the next action beat. Thus creating zero connective tissue as to why our trio goes from A to B to C, etc. The bad acting and odd accents don't help.

But, from a visual standpoint, the movie is the bee's knees (and I am not joking). The costumes are amazing and very detailed, the set design looks natural, with a sense of grandeur the rest of the movie fails to obtain (seriously, some of those sets look to last until well into the horizon), the colors are vibrant and pop right off the screen (lending at least some credence to Shymalan's cartoon sensabilities when directing this), the action is well choreographed, with the cinematography and camera movements being damn near perfect, and the CGI effects rather impressive (for the time of release). Watch it on mute, and it is good. Unfortunately, there is that whole script being awful thing.
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8:13PM on 06/01/2015
Agreed. One of Shyamalan's strenght s always been the use of colors. Even AFTER EARTH had great cinematography.
Agreed. One of Shyamalan's strenght s always been the use of colors. Even AFTER EARTH had great cinematography.
6:22PM on 06/01/2015
Your recent movies are why we dislike you.
Comments like these is why we hate you.
Your recent movies are why we dislike you.
Comments like these is why we hate you.
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+4
5:18PM on 06/01/2015
I think he has a crush on Megan Fox. Also, I think he is an idiot.

There was nothing that was respectful to the "source material" as he called it. That was the problem with the movie. The TV show was made for ten year olds, but you know what? It was an amazing show and adults and kids a like loved it. He does not understand why the show was so loved and that is his problem. I mean, come one, I saw the movie with a group of hardcore fans. While in line, we were all talking about what scene
I think he has a crush on Megan Fox. Also, I think he is an idiot.

There was nothing that was respectful to the "source material" as he called it. That was the problem with the movie. The TV show was made for ten year olds, but you know what? It was an amazing show and adults and kids a like loved it. He does not understand why the show was so loved and that is his problem. I mean, come one, I saw the movie with a group of hardcore fans. While in line, we were all talking about what scene they should have in the movie, and everyone pretty much agree they needed to have a cabbage merchant. If you are a fan of the show, you would expect to see a cabbage merchant. It's little things like that, that makes the show what it is. I hope the studio can move on from that crap of a movie and give another competant director another shot at a Korra movie.
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+1
5:11PM on 06/01/2015

It's really not complicated.....

He took a kids' show that was 75% humor (even in the face of traumatic events like the genocide of an entire culture), and made a movie that had 0% humor.

The bad acting hurt, the bad pacing hurt, the mediocre effects hurt, the painfully dumb Earth-bender scenes hurt, leaving out some of the most important characters hurt, and the bad dialogue hurt, but it's the lack of humor that made it the trainwreck we all saw.
He took a kids' show that was 75% humor (even in the face of traumatic events like the genocide of an entire culture), and made a movie that had 0% humor.

The bad acting hurt, the bad pacing hurt, the mediocre effects hurt, the painfully dumb Earth-bender scenes hurt, leaving out some of the most important characters hurt, and the bad dialogue hurt, but it's the lack of humor that made it the trainwreck we all saw.
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5:20PM on 06/01/2015
I can't believe he left out the Kyoshi warriors, Boomi, Toph, cabbage merchants, lol. He's such an idiot.
I can't believe he left out the Kyoshi warriors, Boomi, Toph, cabbage merchants, lol. He's such an idiot.
6:43PM on 06/01/2015
Say what you will about the nonsensical script, the awful dialogue, and mostly bad acting, but the effects (for the time) were good.
Say what you will about the nonsensical script, the awful dialogue, and mostly bad acting, but the effects (for the time) were good.
7:05AM on 06/02/2015
I hate to defend MNS, but since the movie was listed as "Book 1: Water", that means he intended it to capture just Season 1. Toph wasn't introduced until season 2. And to do justice to the complex story of Aang and King Bumi would've probably taken too much time in this movie. Still, no excuse for leaving out the cabbage man!
I hate to defend MNS, but since the movie was listed as "Book 1: Water", that means he intended it to capture just Season 1. Toph wasn't introduced until season 2. And to do justice to the complex story of Aang and King Bumi would've probably taken too much time in this movie. Still, no excuse for leaving out the cabbage man!
7:05AM on 06/02/2015
I hate to defend MNS, but since the movie was listed as "Book 1: Water", that means he intended it to capture just Season 1. Toph wasn't introduced until season 2. And to do justice to the complex story of Aang and King Bumi would've probably taken too much time in this movie. Still, no excuse for leaving out the cabbage man!
I hate to defend MNS, but since the movie was listed as "Book 1: Water", that means he intended it to capture just Season 1. Toph wasn't introduced until season 2. And to do justice to the complex story of Aang and King Bumi would've probably taken too much time in this movie. Still, no excuse for leaving out the cabbage man!
7:07AM on 06/02/2015
I hate to defend MNS, but since the movie was listed as "Book 1: Water", that means he intended it to capture just Season 1. Toph wasn't introduced until season 2. And to do justice to the complex story of Aang and King Bumi would've probably taken too much time in this movie. Still, no excuse for leaving out the cabbage man!
I hate to defend MNS, but since the movie was listed as "Book 1: Water", that means he intended it to capture just Season 1. Toph wasn't introduced until season 2. And to do justice to the complex story of Aang and King Bumi would've probably taken too much time in this movie. Still, no excuse for leaving out the cabbage man!
+3
4:56PM on 06/01/2015

This guy kills me...

Just when I think he can't be any more beaten, bruised, and humbled, his ego roars out of the wreckage of his last failure and denial, that ugly two-headed monster comes stomping out. What a joke.
Just when I think he can't be any more beaten, bruised, and humbled, his ego roars out of the wreckage of his last failure and denial, that ugly two-headed monster comes stomping out. What a joke.
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4:36PM on 06/01/2015
He is really becoming a perfect example of the old saying "Those who do not learn from their mistakes are doomed to repeat them." Instead of maybe blaming the studio or script he will claim the movie was successful with small children and it's only because they do not comment on movie sites that it is universally hated.
He is really becoming a perfect example of the old saying "Those who do not learn from their mistakes are doomed to repeat them." Instead of maybe blaming the studio or script he will claim the movie was successful with small children and it's only because they do not comment on movie sites that it is universally hated.
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+1
4:18PM on 06/01/2015
"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?" Unfortunately, a lot of people (not just directors) do that. Even if they eventually acknowledge it, it happens AFTER trying to look for reasons why the movie failed. If you look up interviews, you'll see that Shyamalan has defended all of his bad movies.

I didn't hate this movie but I didn't like it. At no point I ever thought if it was
"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?" Unfortunately, a lot of people (not just directors) do that. Even if they eventually acknowledge it, it happens AFTER trying to look for reasons why the movie failed. If you look up interviews, you'll see that Shyamalan has defended all of his bad movies.

I didn't hate this movie but I didn't like it. At no point I ever thought if it was targeted too much at children. You're right about there being movies that are smart but not too complex that can be enjoyed by parents and children alike. Those are called "Family movies;" the ones that can only be enjoyed by children are called "Kids movies."
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3:26PM on 06/01/2015

Pixar proved that kids appreciate good storytelling

M. Night Shyamalan's THE LAST AIRBENDER was a bad movie, period. The script was terrible, the acting was atrocious (given the number of juveniles in the cast, that's a major knock against Shyamalan right there) and he changed the script in ways that made little sense - reducing the Fire Lord's menace by showing him as another human being, making Uncle Iroh less comedic, and changing the ending to make it less dramatic.

It's funny how M. Night Shyamalan is blaming everyone but himself for
M. Night Shyamalan's THE LAST AIRBENDER was a bad movie, period. The script was terrible, the acting was atrocious (given the number of juveniles in the cast, that's a major knock against Shyamalan right there) and he changed the script in ways that made little sense - reducing the Fire Lord's menace by showing him as another human being, making Uncle Iroh less comedic, and changing the ending to make it less dramatic.

It's funny how M. Night Shyamalan is blaming everyone but himself for the film's failure. That says a great deal right there.
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3:53PM on 06/01/2015
Pixar didn't just proved that, the show this movie is BASED on also proves that.
Pixar didn't just proved that, the show this movie is BASED on also proves that.
5:04PM on 06/01/2015
Actually, Iroh was the one thing I liked about the movie. If you watch the series from beginning to end, Iroh is portrayed as a buffoon early on, and not overly deferential to the Avatar. His character changed drastically toward the end to where he was actually involved in the White Lotus and a serious bad-ass. The only cool thing about TLA was that he was entirely respectful (and kind of in awe) of Aang from the beginning, which makes sense when you know where the story is headed.
Actually, Iroh was the one thing I liked about the movie. If you watch the series from beginning to end, Iroh is portrayed as a buffoon early on, and not overly deferential to the Avatar. His character changed drastically toward the end to where he was actually involved in the White Lotus and a serious bad-ass. The only cool thing about TLA was that he was entirely respectful (and kind of in awe) of Aang from the beginning, which makes sense when you know where the story is headed.
7:31PM on 06/01/2015
@Des1: I've watched the series from end-to-end a few times, and Uncle Iroh was one of the more complex characters. I liked how the buffoon was actually a mask for a highly formidable Fire Bender who was working behind the scenes for the resistance. And one of the best sequences in the first season, IMO, was when the "buffoon" demonstrated just how deadly he was.

Random490: Agreed. This should have been a slam dunk for M. Night. The fact that he screwed it up so badly speaks volumes.
@Des1: I've watched the series from end-to-end a few times, and Uncle Iroh was one of the more complex characters. I liked how the buffoon was actually a mask for a highly formidable Fire Bender who was working behind the scenes for the resistance. And one of the best sequences in the first season, IMO, was when the "buffoon" demonstrated just how deadly he was.

Random490: Agreed. This should have been a slam dunk for M. Night. The fact that he screwed it up so badly speaks volumes.
3:17PM on 06/01/2015
Kids will watch anything a hundred times even if its crap. Those comments basically lets everyone know that he's basically lost touch on what good material is.
Kids will watch anything a hundred times even if its crap. Those comments basically lets everyone know that he's basically lost touch on what good material is.
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2:55PM on 06/01/2015

The target audience was the least of this movie's problems

Maybe if he had focused on the poor plotting, terrible special effects, and bad staging, he would have made a better movie. Many adults love the TV show, and that is ostensibly aimed at the same audience he was aiming at with this film.
Maybe if he had focused on the poor plotting, terrible special effects, and bad staging, he would have made a better movie. Many adults love the TV show, and that is ostensibly aimed at the same audience he was aiming at with this film.
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