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UNpopular Opinion: The Last Airbender

Feb. 15, 2011by: Mike Sampson

Written by: Paul Gagne

THE UNPOPULAR OPINION is an ongoing column featuring different takes on films that either the writer HATED, but that the majority of film fans LOVED, or that the writer LOVED, but that most others LOATHED. We're hoping this column will promote constructive and geek fueled discussion. Enjoy!

I get the backlash against M. Night Shyamalan: I really do. He is as pretentious as the day is long, and the only thing worse than his acting are his plodding, one-note scripts. He struck a nerve with THE SIXTH SENSE, and at the time the reveal at the end was a gut-punch to audiences across the world. Flash-forward five films later, and he was just repeating himself, tacking evermore ridiculous twist endings onto increasingly preachy films. I broke up with him after SIGNS. We tried to get back together during LADY IN THE WATER, but that proved a huge mistake on my part. Some people never change.

Or do they?

While I do understand the backlash, as I said, I also think it is misguided. People decry Shyamalan as a director, and nothing could be farther from the truth. The man can command a movie set. He has a great eye for visuals, knows how to create mood and suspense, and frequently gets amazing performances out of actors. THE VILLAGE, for instance, boasts an incredible cast and a jaw-dropping performance from Adrien Brody. I have always said that I found him to be an impressive director, and longed for the day when he would get out of his own ass and do someone elses project.

That day finally came with the bizarre announcement that Shyamalan would be directing the theatrical adaptation of the Nickelodeon cartoon "Avatar: The Last Airbender" (I felt the same way when I found out Zack Snyder was doing The Guardians of GaHoole). While I would have preferred he shoot someone elses script, the fact that he had adapted something not of his own creation gave me hope that he was trying to progress as a filmmaker. And that is exactly what I got.

Now, I am not claiming that THE LAST AIRBENDER is a perfect film, nor am I saying Shyamalan completely changed his stripes with its production. Yes, he made seriously self-destructive decisions, such as having character names wildly mispronounced from the source material, and removing the campy humor entirely (and thus rendering Jackson Rathbones role of Sokka something of a limp fish). But these are really small quibbles that can be easily contained within the circle of die-hard Avatar fans. As with remakes and book adaptations, you need to distance yourself from the source material and take the film on its own merits.

Which is what I did. And I did not find the film lacking. I thought it looked excellent, which is the first component in a successful fantasy film. The world Shyamalan created for the Avatar characters was wholly believable. Sometimes the CGI water flying through the air looked a little fake, but that is a difficult effect to render. The fire was awesome, though, and Oppa the flying bison was damned skippy. I particularly enjoyed young Aang, the title character, zipping around through the air with his staff/glider thingie.

While I found that all of Aangs emotional beats hit home, of a boy out of time who felt the onus of his singular nature being taken out on those he loved, it was really Dev Patel who stole the movie for me. His portrayal of the conflicted Prince Zuko, son of the Fire Nation Chief Ozai (played by the always appreciated Cliff Curtis) was spot-on, and he became the role so completely that I didnt recognize him as the kid from SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE at all. The fight scene he has with Aang held me rapt for two reasons: physically, because it was clearly not a Hollywood, they both fight perfectly fight. Zuko lunged for Aang, and Aang ducked and covered when he could. Sure, they busted kung fu on each other, but it seemed more like a martial arts fight you would actually see on the street, if that makes any sense (or if any of this does). But emotionally, it was a fight between two tormented boys, both with huge burdens of responsibility thrust upon their immature shoulders.

In fact, I found the whole Fire Nation fascinating. It was as if Hitler, a noted occultist, had actually found a way to give his Nazi officers superhuman powers. My daughter complained that in the cartoon the Fire Nation warriors could all create fire in their hands from nothing, but I think Shyamalan changing that for the film was a stroke of genius. It lent more credence to Zukos uncle Iroh (played by Shaun Toub from Iron Man) being a revered and feared Fire Nation warrior, and upped the importance of the coming Sozins Comet to the Fire Nations plans for total domination.

So, my final take on the film is that it stepped up to the plate with emotional arcs for the two main characters, great special effects and impressive fight scenes, great set design and costumes, and just a hint of socio-political undertones. Complaints of race-bending are ridiculous and easily dispelled by a simple Google image search for a comparison of the cartoon characters to the actors in costume, and as for arguments about the changes made from the source materialwere all big moviegoers now, who should be able to understand that sometimes things have to be altered during the transition to a live-action film. And if you make those arguments and are above the age of twelve, I will laugh at you to boot.

Source: JoBlo.com

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+18
10:48AM on 02/15/2011

Brody

Sorry. I like brody as much as the next fan boy but the dude went full retard in the village. You never go full retard.
Sorry. I like brody as much as the next fan boy but the dude went full retard in the village. You never go full retard.
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11:22AM on 02/15/2011
You made my day with that. VERY FUNNY!!!
You made my day with that. VERY FUNNY!!!
11:42AM on 02/15/2011

Team Signs

Um... Signs is one of my very fuckin favorite movies! Also a fantastic performance from the "late" Mel Gibson. Signs is just great storytelling.
Um... Signs is one of my very fuckin favorite movies! Also a fantastic performance from the "late" Mel Gibson. Signs is just great storytelling.
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+13
7:43AM on 02/15/2011
This article lost all its credibility when I read, "...I found that all of Aangs emotional beats hit home."
This article lost all its credibility when I read, "...I found that all of Aangs emotional beats hit home."
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8:01AM on 02/15/2011
What you're saying is, at some point in time it had credibility? Sweet!
What you're saying is, at some point in time it had credibility? Sweet!
8:30AM on 02/15/2011
Woah! That must be some serious good weed you smoked while watching that movie to make you like it that much. Tell me where you can get something that potent cause if it can make a movie that sucks that bad seem good than it must be potent stuff.
Woah! That must be some serious good weed you smoked while watching that movie to make you like it that much. Tell me where you can get something that potent cause if it can make a movie that sucks that bad seem good than it must be potent stuff.
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8:33AM on 02/15/2011
I get high on life.
I get high on life.
+10
2:29PM on 02/15/2011

booze talking , more like alcohol poisoning

The acting sucked, the characters badly represented, the editing was choppy, pacing sucky . the ONLY redeeming quality was the special effects and while that might be suitable for a SYFY movie of the week, it is NOT acceptable for a movie like this. everyone is entitled to their opinion, mine is this movie SUCKED!
The acting sucked, the characters badly represented, the editing was choppy, pacing sucky . the ONLY redeeming quality was the special effects and while that might be suitable for a SYFY movie of the week, it is NOT acceptable for a movie like this. everyone is entitled to their opinion, mine is this movie SUCKED!
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12:57PM on 02/15/2011

My Worst Film of 2010

This movie was just flat out awful. I never watched the show, but I've heard a bunch of a great things about it. I'm sure it's a helluva lot better than this piece of shit, though. The acting was some of the worst I've seen in years, the action scenes and special effects were uninspired, the story was incredibly rushed and incoherent, and the writing was abysmal. Honestly, the only positive thing I can say about this movie is that it's unintentionally hilarious, but most of the time, it was an
This movie was just flat out awful. I never watched the show, but I've heard a bunch of a great things about it. I'm sure it's a helluva lot better than this piece of shit, though. The acting was some of the worst I've seen in years, the action scenes and special effects were uninspired, the story was incredibly rushed and incoherent, and the writing was abysmal. Honestly, the only positive thing I can say about this movie is that it's unintentionally hilarious, but most of the time, it was an agonizing experience.
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8:31AM on 02/15/2011

Ugh.

I tried to keep an open mind with this movie but goddamn was that a daunting task. The acting was horrendous, the direction was sloppy and I'm sure I could name a few more problems if I watched it a second time. That won't happen though as I could barely stand the first viewing.

Shyamalan has buried himself too deep at this point to recover. He needs to start small again and build up or just quit the business altogether.
I tried to keep an open mind with this movie but goddamn was that a daunting task. The acting was horrendous, the direction was sloppy and I'm sure I could name a few more problems if I watched it a second time. That won't happen though as I could barely stand the first viewing.

Shyamalan has buried himself too deep at this point to recover. He needs to start small again and build up or just quit the business altogether.
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10:53AM on 02/15/2011
He can start a support group with Peter Jackson: CGI Anonymous.
He can start a support group with Peter Jackson: CGI Anonymous.
7:32PM on 02/15/2011
The way I figure it, the point of these articles isn't to red bar if you disagree with the opinion, or to green bar if you agree. I always figured that the point was to see whether the writer has put together a decent enough opposing argument.

For example, I would red bar the Unpopular Opinion column on The Dark Knight, not because I loved TDK, but because it presents a very weak case against the film. The author stated that the Dark Knight was a "terrible movie" but admitted that the
The way I figure it, the point of these articles isn't to red bar if you disagree with the opinion, or to green bar if you agree. I always figured that the point was to see whether the writer has put together a decent enough opposing argument.

For example, I would red bar the Unpopular Opinion column on The Dark Knight, not because I loved TDK, but because it presents a very weak case against the film. The author stated that the Dark Knight was a "terrible movie" but admitted that the direction and performances by the principal cast "worked". The reason the argument immediately fell flat was that if a movie has good direction and acting, it can't be "terrible". Disappointing, sure. Not terrible.

Then, the rest of the article was spent bitching and moaning about comic book norms, (Why can't Batman track Joker immediately?, because there would be no movie if he caught him immediately. That's like asking why the Bond villains bothered explaining their entire plans to Bond and then walking away without confirming whether he was actually dead. It's film convention and if you can't follow it, I'm surprised you can enjoy ANY movie because they all have problems like that.) and completely pointless nitpicks like the inclusion of dogs, Batman's voice etc. None of these things should have completely ruined the film viewing experience, therefore it was a poor review.

Perhaps, if he had instead spent the time discussing actual issues with the film, like perhaps the fact that the sound design was flawed in certain sequences, in that the dialogue was difficult to hear because the score was cranked up too loud. The feeling that the Two-face story arc felt rushed and unnecessary in this film. It would have made more sense to stop the Joker only and save Two-Face for the third film because as is, Two-Face is dead before we really even get to know him. Dent we spend a lot of time with, Two-Face, less so. It could have brought up the gray morals in the film. How it seems to promote the use of torture, spying, and an any means necessary viewpoint in stopping evil.

I'm not saying that I agree with all these negatives, but I do find them interesting and allow me to see the film in a new light and see WHY someone may hate a movie that is so popular.

The Avatar review is a good example because it explains that the major problem was that the story had issues and the author never said that he hated it. Just that it was ok.

On to this review. I believe this review is decent, much better than TDK review, but still misses a lot of things.

You address some of the criticisms against the film and why these are misguided. I like that you say that the mispronunciation of names, the change in abilities of the characters, disloyalty to the source material etc. are issues but should not really be used as a criticism of the film because this is not the show, it's a movie and creative license needs to be taken and it should be judged as an entirely separate entity.

Also, I like the fact that you singled out Patel, his uncle, and Cliff Curtis as giving good performances because I felt the same way. But does that excuse the other performances in the film? Does the fact that there is one "realistic" fight in the movie excuse all the other fights in the film that look like people are just dancing near each other rather than fighting?

You also missed some other major issues like the fact that people felt that the movie was rushed, too short for a fully fleshed out story, etc.

I liked that you mentioned the fact that the costume design, set design, and special effects were very good. I do think you should have also mentioned the incredible score which I really think deserved an Oscar nomination (Seriously, listen to Flow Like Water. What a beauty.).

I loved this line also:
"But emotionally, it was a fight between two tormented boys, both with huge burdens of responsibility thrust upon their immature shoulders."
That's exactly why I can't bring myself to hate the film. Well said.

Overall, although I felt that you missed some things and didn't defend it as well as you possibly could have, it was still pretty good. Perhaps adding all the things I'm talking about would have made the article too long, and as you can tell from my comment, I have a tendency to talk a lot. :)
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8:03PM on 02/15/2011
I appreciate your point. When I decided to take a stab at writing this column, I laid out some ideas for movies and this was the one that got the green light. It then became a task of getting the flavor of what I wanted to say across without being too long in the tooth. I definitely missed some easy pitches, but I also kind of figured people were going to jump in my ass as soon as I hinted that Shyamalan is a good director, so I just tried to hit the larger targets.

I definitely appreciate
I appreciate your point. When I decided to take a stab at writing this column, I laid out some ideas for movies and this was the one that got the green light. It then became a task of getting the flavor of what I wanted to say across without being too long in the tooth. I definitely missed some easy pitches, but I also kind of figured people were going to jump in my ass as soon as I hinted that Shyamalan is a good director, so I just tried to hit the larger targets.

I definitely appreciate your criticism, because it was constructive. I don't claim to be a perfect writer or reviewer any more than I claim Airbender to be a perfect movie. I will take what you had to say and keep it in mind in the future.
9:54PM on 02/15/2011
Haha, yeah. I was trying to think of what movie I should write about and I couldn't decide. I finally settled on one but I got carried away and wrote way too much :). Probably why it didn't get selected (Or maybe I just suck at writing :)).

I actually agree and think that Shyamalan is a great director. The Village is beautifully directed but the story could have used some work. That seems to be the case with a lot of his movies these days.

Although this one wasn't terrible, it's certainly
Haha, yeah. I was trying to think of what movie I should write about and I couldn't decide. I finally settled on one but I got carried away and wrote way too much :). Probably why it didn't get selected (Or maybe I just suck at writing :)).

I actually agree and think that Shyamalan is a great director. The Village is beautifully directed but the story could have used some work. That seems to be the case with a lot of his movies these days.

Although this one wasn't terrible, it's certainly no Unbreakable or Sixth Sense. Hopefully, his next film will be a true return to form. I haven't give up on him yet. :)
+8
2:47PM on 02/15/2011

no way

It was a stinking turd that had such a great potential. Yes Patel was good, his uncle was great also. Visually it had a few fine scenes. But the dialogue, the characterisation, the plot and even a lot of the action was totally empty. Even amateurishly bad. Poor Patel might not even get another chance because of how lousy the film was.
It was a stinking turd that had such a great potential. Yes Patel was good, his uncle was great also. Visually it had a few fine scenes. But the dialogue, the characterisation, the plot and even a lot of the action was totally empty. Even amateurishly bad. Poor Patel might not even get another chance because of how lousy the film was.
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9:19AM on 02/15/2011

I disagree

I watched The Last Airbender with my kids, and for some multitude of reasons, the film failed to entertain as much as it should. The main actor in the film was very wooden as Aang. I could never trust the character was completely rendered. The action scenes were there to cover up poor dialogue. I understand the amount of training required by the actor to do all the martial arts moves and to act to the special effects, but the effects and fight scenes masked the one true drawback to the
I watched The Last Airbender with my kids, and for some multitude of reasons, the film failed to entertain as much as it should. The main actor in the film was very wooden as Aang. I could never trust the character was completely rendered. The action scenes were there to cover up poor dialogue. I understand the amount of training required by the actor to do all the martial arts moves and to act to the special effects, but the effects and fight scenes masked the one true drawback to the film, it lacked heart. At the end of the film, you get (spoilers) an indication that it is set up for a sequel. This is supposed to be fun, something for fans to look forward to. Then why was it that I and my family were not like "cool!"? We were kinda glad it was over and we were like "meh" about the film.

I have seen campy "Godzilla" movies that were more entertaining. The Last Airbender had the potential to be a great fun ride. The pacing, the script, dialogue, it came up short. The funny thing is, the whole premise is kinda cool, kinda original. The cartoon had that originality and the spirit.

I am glad SOMEBODY liked the movie. There was a huge amount of effort and money that had been put into it.
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7:51AM on 02/15/2011
Awful film, $13 wasted on entertainment.
Awful film, $13 wasted on entertainment.
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+8
7:33AM on 02/15/2011

Nice try...

Brody (who I loved in "The Pianist") was shockingly bad in "The Village".

I can't resist quoting here, that you "longed for the day when he would get out of his own ass and do someone elses project". Oh my look how that turned out...

Look, Shyamalan has greatness in him - "Sixth Sense" and "Unbreakable" being proof of that - but "The Last Airbender" is a failure from start to finish. From the storytelling to the acting - it feels like the work of a much lesser director

Brody (who I loved in "The Pianist") was shockingly bad in "The Village".

I can't resist quoting here, that you "longed for the day when he would get out of his own ass and do someone elses project". Oh my look how that turned out...

Look, Shyamalan has greatness in him - "Sixth Sense" and "Unbreakable" being proof of that - but "The Last Airbender" is a failure from start to finish. From the storytelling to the acting - it feels like the work of a much lesser director

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8:03AM on 02/15/2011
Thanks so much for syaing it was a nice try! I appreciate it :)
Thanks so much for syaing it was a nice try! I appreciate it :)
12:59PM on 02/15/2011
"... because it was clearly not a Hollywood, they both fight perfectly fight."

Er... great opinion, there. I have no idea what you're talking about.
"... because it was clearly not a Hollywood, they both fight perfectly fight."

Er... great opinion, there. I have no idea what you're talking about.
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1:07PM on 02/15/2011
Yeah, that was not exactly a concise bit of writing. I meant that "Hollywood" fights tend to be perfectly choreographed, whereas this one felt like they did not know exactly what their opponent's next move was going to be.
Yeah, that was not exactly a concise bit of writing. I meant that "Hollywood" fights tend to be perfectly choreographed, whereas this one felt like they did not know exactly what their opponent's next move was going to be.
+6
6:57PM on 02/15/2011
I didn't see airbender, but I just wanted to thank you for writing these articles. They are always a fun read and make for interesting perspectives and back and forths in the strikebacks.
I didn't see airbender, but I just wanted to thank you for writing these articles. They are always a fun read and make for interesting perspectives and back and forths in the strikebacks.
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8:08PM on 02/15/2011
That's the point: to get some discussion going. Thanks!
That's the point: to get some discussion going. Thanks!
10:56AM on 02/15/2011

I know what you're trying to do

but nothing could save this film. I went in wanting to like it, but I ended up rolling my eyes constantly. I can understand why M. Night wanted to change some things but his changes weren't for the better. Just to give one example: showing Firelord Ozai. In the cartoon, he's a shadowy figure which makes him more menacing. In the film, he's just another guy in a goofy suit.

And losing the humour not only killed Sokka's character but Aang and Iroh's as well. Iroh is a wise fool: his
but nothing could save this film. I went in wanting to like it, but I ended up rolling my eyes constantly. I can understand why M. Night wanted to change some things but his changes weren't for the better. Just to give one example: showing Firelord Ozai. In the cartoon, he's a shadowy figure which makes him more menacing. In the film, he's just another guy in a goofy suit.

And losing the humour not only killed Sokka's character but Aang and Iroh's as well. Iroh is a wise fool: his reveal as a fearsome warrior was one of the cartoon's big surprises, and Aang's melding with the Moon spirit was an incredible sequence. Sorry, but Shyamalan really snatched defeat from the jaws of victory with The Last Airbender.
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11:04AM on 02/15/2011
I wasn't trying to do anything but state my opinions. But I appreciate you stating your own opinion instead of just trashing mine.
I wasn't trying to do anything but state my opinions. But I appreciate you stating your own opinion instead of just trashing mine.
10:44AM on 02/15/2011

I see what your saying

But it's still a bad movie. Poorly paces, one dimensional script, and bad actors did the most to turn me off this movie. I saw it opening weekend to give it a chance and it really disappointed. Everything else may be petty but it just adds to the big stuff that was wrong
But it's still a bad movie. Poorly paces, one dimensional script, and bad actors did the most to turn me off this movie. I saw it opening weekend to give it a chance and it really disappointed. Everything else may be petty but it just adds to the big stuff that was wrong
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10:10AM on 02/15/2011

Agree to disagree

The only things that were worth admiring were the aspects of the source material that weren't changed. Sure, the special effects were okay. I'd disagree that "looking excellent" is the first component of a successful fantasy film. I'd argue that it has to suck you in with characters and dialog that allow you to suspend your disbelief, and want to go on the journey. Visuals are important, but second to the story and the people in it. I felt that the actors either were overacting,
The only things that were worth admiring were the aspects of the source material that weren't changed. Sure, the special effects were okay. I'd disagree that "looking excellent" is the first component of a successful fantasy film. I'd argue that it has to suck you in with characters and dialog that allow you to suspend your disbelief, and want to go on the journey. Visuals are important, but second to the story and the people in it. I felt that the actors either were overacting, underacting, or seemed confused about what their characters were supposed to be about. I'm not going to pick on child actors, but the end result didn't please me.

I watched the whole series as it was released, and now that my kids are several years older, watched the movie with them. I didn't viscerally hate it, the way some people tend to melodramatically do on this site when things don't go their way. I think my reaction may actually be more damning of the film - I was just bored and disinterested, and wound up clock watching my way through it. A movie like this can do a lot of things wrong, but it shouldn't have felt as long, or as much of a labor to get through.

Sometimes, when we want something to be good, we put blinders on to some pretty serious flaws. I was about 24 when The Phantom Menace came out, and I watched it several times before I could accept that it just wasn't that good, and in fact, was pretty horrible.

Everybody is entitled to their opinions, and I'm not accusing the author of this article of absolutely having this problem - I don't even know how familiar he was with the series before hand, but it makes me wonder if the desire to have the movie be good, helped to lower the bar. I really didn't need to see the story told in the medium of film at all, so I was neither hoping for it to be good, nor prognosticating its failure. Without any real expectations, I was thoroughly nonplussed. Just my opinion, which is consistently unpopular. That said - I'm not going to begrudge anybody who took this amount of time to explain why they thought something was good.
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10:49AM on 02/15/2011
Actually, it was the reverse case: I expected so little from the film that I was able to enjoy it for what it was. My daughter, however, who is a huge fan of the cartoon, was losing her damned mind :)
Actually, it was the reverse case: I expected so little from the film that I was able to enjoy it for what it was. My daughter, however, who is a huge fan of the cartoon, was losing her damned mind :)
12:22PM on 02/15/2011
Paul - My nephew received it for Xmas...we all sat down to watch it. He, like my kids, knew the cartoon inside and out and were ready to enjoy the live action version.

He was nearly in tears hating this Xmas present before it was over...
Paul - My nephew received it for Xmas...we all sat down to watch it. He, like my kids, knew the cartoon inside and out and were ready to enjoy the live action version.

He was nearly in tears hating this Xmas present before it was over...
5:37PM on 02/15/2011
I always thought Avator was just a mere kids show, then I actually watched. From a small glance the show is essentially a kids show, but I gave it a chance and found that it had an epic engaging story that deserved an awesome film adaption. Visually the movie was great, however M.night fucked the story up, and tried to cram a whole season of story into less then 2 hours, It was a mess, and a huge dissapointment. The movie made me want to watch the cartoon instead. I do agree with what this
I always thought Avator was just a mere kids show, then I actually watched. From a small glance the show is essentially a kids show, but I gave it a chance and found that it had an epic engaging story that deserved an awesome film adaption. Visually the movie was great, however M.night fucked the story up, and tried to cram a whole season of story into less then 2 hours, It was a mess, and a huge dissapointment. The movie made me want to watch the cartoon instead. I do agree with what this review says, however the story was the best thing the series had, and that sure as hell fell short.
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1:23PM on 02/15/2011

Joblo Readers = Awesome

I posted earlier and have kept coming back to read peoples opinion on your unpopular one and have to say im pretty pleased most people arent COMPLETELY bashing you for this. Everyone for the most part is giving their reasons and not just calling you a "fag" or what have you. Glad to see everyone is being an adult here. And I give you props for owning up to you writing the article. Movie still sucked though. :D
I posted earlier and have kept coming back to read peoples opinion on your unpopular one and have to say im pretty pleased most people arent COMPLETELY bashing you for this. Everyone for the most part is giving their reasons and not just calling you a "fag" or what have you. Glad to see everyone is being an adult here. And I give you props for owning up to you writing the article. Movie still sucked though. :D
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1:58PM on 02/15/2011
I had Mike put my real name on the article because I stand behind everything I say, all the time. If I'm proven wrong I'll admit it, but I never hide an opinion. People for the most part have been cool, though there are the malcontents who never miss an opportunity to take a personal pot-shot. Luckily I'm a man and can take a hit and grin. I never expected to change anyone's mind: the nature of this column is to show the converse side of a popular argument, and that is what I did. What people
I had Mike put my real name on the article because I stand behind everything I say, all the time. If I'm proven wrong I'll admit it, but I never hide an opinion. People for the most part have been cool, though there are the malcontents who never miss an opportunity to take a personal pot-shot. Luckily I'm a man and can take a hit and grin. I never expected to change anyone's mind: the nature of this column is to show the converse side of a popular argument, and that is what I did. What people do with that information is their own business.
12:16PM on 02/15/2011
This movie blew big floppy dong...period.
This movie blew big floppy dong...period.
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12:15PM on 02/15/2011

Totally disagree with Mike on this

Man, talk about the Unpopular opinion!

Justify the change in character NAME pronunciation. It added nothing to the movie while openly DISTRACTING Avatar fans from enjoying the movie.

So as a director he CHOSE to make his movie purposefully worse by doing this.

Also, the acting was just awful. It would've been less obvious if the jokey nature of the show were allowed to stay in. A little over-the-top cheese goes a long way in lighthearted scene. There were no lighthearted scenes,
Man, talk about the Unpopular opinion!

Justify the change in character NAME pronunciation. It added nothing to the movie while openly DISTRACTING Avatar fans from enjoying the movie.

So as a director he CHOSE to make his movie purposefully worse by doing this.

Also, the acting was just awful. It would've been less obvious if the jokey nature of the show were allowed to stay in. A little over-the-top cheese goes a long way in lighthearted scene. There were no lighthearted scenes, and again, he CHOSE to drop one of the main components of a really well balanced cartoon show and make it totally unbalanced. Bad choice as a director.

All in all, Avatar had every chance of succeeding due to the incredibly well done source material, and M. Night CHOSE to make it worse.
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1:10PM on 02/15/2011
Just to clarify: Mike did not write this piece. I did.
Just to clarify: Mike did not write this piece. I did.
8:24PM on 02/15/2011
Gotcha Paul, my bad.
Gotcha Paul, my bad.
10:15AM on 02/15/2011

So off the mark

I have to say sorry you are so off the mark with this one. I just watched this movie last week for the first time, and it literally took me 4 days to get through it. I love movies, I love watching bad movies, and by bad I mean SyFi bad, they are a hoot. But when the acting and story are so bad that you cringe while you watch that's another story. Okay the acting in SyFi movies is bad, but you know its going to be with unknowns or washouts and a 50.000 budget. But Airbender was class A when it
I have to say sorry you are so off the mark with this one. I just watched this movie last week for the first time, and it literally took me 4 days to get through it. I love movies, I love watching bad movies, and by bad I mean SyFi bad, they are a hoot. But when the acting and story are so bad that you cringe while you watch that's another story. Okay the acting in SyFi movies is bad, but you know its going to be with unknowns or washouts and a 50.000 budget. But Airbender was class A when it came to production and the talent behind it. And they could barely squeeze out decent performances from the actors you mentioned and thank god they did or the thing would have been literally unwatchable.

I have not read any of the books so I have no beefs with any of the variations from source. But it smacked too much of Never Ending Story to me, and as much as I dislike that movie its Oscar worthy compared to this tripe.

I could have lived with the story arc, if the actors could at least say their lines with conviction, but their performances for the most part are simply high school theater level.

This franchise is dead...well I should not say that maybe M. Knight will use his own money to continue, as that is the only way I can see another being made.

I never walk out on movies, but I would have if I had been in a theater, it was just that painful to watch. Its amazing that a production with this much backing can be so obviously flawed. Is Knight getting Lucas-ittis the symptoms are production design is more important than story or actors that can actually act.

Man whenever I see a flick like this it just reminds me how lucky we are that there are talented actors out there. If you ever doubted that acting is a true skill just check out this flick.
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+3
2:09PM on 02/15/2011
ive always said that i think m night is a really great storyteller.
he just doesnt always tell a good story.
lol.
ive always said that i think m night is a really great storyteller.
he just doesnt always tell a good story.
lol.
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12:35PM on 02/15/2011

I have to disagree!!!

I started watching the show two years ago when I was 15 and I have seen every single episode since. I absolutely love the show but I kid you not when I tell you while watching this I felt a growing disgust inside of me and if I went past the 30 minute mark I probably would have broken my damn tv.

The acting was terrible but the pacing was even worse! I can't get angry at Shyamalan for the horrible pacing cause trying to stuff a whole season of a show into a movie that's not even two hours
I started watching the show two years ago when I was 15 and I have seen every single episode since. I absolutely love the show but I kid you not when I tell you while watching this I felt a growing disgust inside of me and if I went past the 30 minute mark I probably would have broken my damn tv.

The acting was terrible but the pacing was even worse! I can't get angry at Shyamalan for the horrible pacing cause trying to stuff a whole season of a show into a movie that's not even two hours long is impossible. That's still no excuse for the acting! I felt like he hired a bunch of people who didn't watch a single episode of the show and had no love or appreciation for the characters they were portraying.

Even after this movie I'm still gonna have faith in Shyamalan. I just know he could pull out something great if he truly wanted to!
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11:51AM on 02/15/2011
This film had 0 humor and didnt spend anytime developing a story. Id rather watch Santa Conquers the Martians again
This film had 0 humor and didnt spend anytime developing a story. Id rather watch Santa Conquers the Martians again
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+3
10:20AM on 02/15/2011
Sorry Dude. Can't agree with you. This movie sucked and so did the Village. I saw nothing special out of Adrien Brody
Sorry Dude. Can't agree with you. This movie sucked and so did the Village. I saw nothing special out of Adrien Brody
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11:29PM on 12/09/2011

Wait...WHAT?

Couldn't disagree more.
I'm a somewhat closeted Shyamalan fan, and I tried to give this movie a chance, but damn.
I have never...NEVER...left a theater before the movie ends. I don't even think I made it 45 minutes with this film. And I've sat through some pretty terrible films.
Sorry, I just can't agree with this article.
Couldn't disagree more.
I'm a somewhat closeted Shyamalan fan, and I tried to give this movie a chance, but damn.
I have never...NEVER...left a theater before the movie ends. I don't even think I made it 45 minutes with this film. And I've sat through some pretty terrible films.
Sorry, I just can't agree with this article.
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11:31PM on 08/23/2011

Hated it

Even if you look at this film as a standalone film and distance it from the source material, it's still an awful movie. The pacing is terrible, the effects are mediocre, the dialogue is laughably bad, and the acting is abysmal.
Even if you look at this film as a standalone film and distance it from the source material, it's still an awful movie. The pacing is terrible, the effects are mediocre, the dialogue is laughably bad, and the acting is abysmal.
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2:58AM on 02/16/2011

I enjoyed the article too

I never saw the movie. mostly because too many people said it sucked, and I'm just not into anime. Maybe I will have to give it a chance. I suppose not having seen the tv show might be a good thing, cause I can be more objective.
I never saw the movie. mostly because too many people said it sucked, and I'm just not into anime. Maybe I will have to give it a chance. I suppose not having seen the tv show might be a good thing, cause I can be more objective.
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9:49PM on 02/15/2011
The Last Airbender was a terrible film. To me, the only redeeming quality of the film was that it was so entertaining without trying to be. The entire film seemed like it was intentionally trying to be awful, very Kaufman-esque. The cinematography, the choreography, writing and the acting were deplorable amongst many other problems. There were so many random-close ups, some even lasting entire conversations. I felt that M. Night was intentionally trying to test the audience's patienceby trying
The Last Airbender was a terrible film. To me, the only redeeming quality of the film was that it was so entertaining without trying to be. The entire film seemed like it was intentionally trying to be awful, very Kaufman-esque. The cinematography, the choreography, writing and the acting were deplorable amongst many other problems. There were so many random-close ups, some even lasting entire conversations. I felt that M. Night was intentionally trying to test the audience's patienceby trying to make the closest thing he could to an Ed Wood film with a large budget. This movie had to be a prank. There were also scenes that lasted a mere 5 seconds that had no place within the story, and the plot itself jumped all over the place and tried to cram content of every episode into a messy incoherent storyline.
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8:29PM on 02/15/2011
How can you write an article defending this movie and not even mention the best part of the film, James Newton Howard's score. Such a shame his great music is attached to such a poor film. I respect your opinion, and while I don't think the film is quite as bad as some proclaim it is still pretty bad. I did just see Devil though, and I still think M. Night has some writing skills.
How can you write an article defending this movie and not even mention the best part of the film, James Newton Howard's score. Such a shame his great music is attached to such a poor film. I respect your opinion, and while I don't think the film is quite as bad as some proclaim it is still pretty bad. I did just see Devil though, and I still think M. Night has some writing skills.
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1:33PM on 02/15/2011

The thing is

is that The film Lacked the feeling the cartoon had each episode, I hope there will be a remake the creators and the fans that wanted more desevere even though i havent seen the movie
is that The film Lacked the feeling the cartoon had each episode, I hope there will be a remake the creators and the fans that wanted more desevere even though i havent seen the movie
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12:59PM on 02/15/2011

Agreed on several points

Glad to see I'm not alone in thinking this movie isn't cinematic homicide.

Yes, the film looked fantastic; yes, some good creative decisions were made; yes, I thought Dev Patel was quite good as Zuko and not completely miscast as many have stated. The Blue Spirit scenes are easily the best in the movie, and that 360-degree shot of he and Aang fighting together is endlessly rewatchable.

That said, the dialogue is so childish it hurts to listen to, the acting is abominable from all but
Glad to see I'm not alone in thinking this movie isn't cinematic homicide.

Yes, the film looked fantastic; yes, some good creative decisions were made; yes, I thought Dev Patel was quite good as Zuko and not completely miscast as many have stated. The Blue Spirit scenes are easily the best in the movie, and that 360-degree shot of he and Aang fighting together is endlessly rewatchable.

That said, the dialogue is so childish it hurts to listen to, the acting is abominable from all but Ringer, Patel and Shaun Toub (dude owned as Iroh), and the pacing is so off you feel the weight of the footage left on the cutting room floor. The "racebending" arguments are over the top, as the casting of the Fire Nation really doesn't bother me, but the film is guilty of some choice white-washing so far as the Water Tribe characters.

I really and truly enjoy the film in spite of its laundry list of problems. But at its best it's a pale shadow of the animated series' greatness, and the more I think about it, the more I'd rather see someone else start fresh in a few years than see Shyamalan complete the trilogy. Just my feeling right now.
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+1
12:16PM on 02/15/2011

Embarrassing

As if this is only a bad movie to those that are fans of the original source material. I am not. Haven't seen the cartoon. This movie was shit. I suppose now, you'll tell me I didn't get it because I'm not a fan of the original source material. Bender was a goddamn awful movie. And I love Unbreakable and Lady in the Water.
As if this is only a bad movie to those that are fans of the original source material. I am not. Haven't seen the cartoon. This movie was shit. I suppose now, you'll tell me I didn't get it because I'm not a fan of the original source material. Bender was a goddamn awful movie. And I love Unbreakable and Lady in the Water.
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+1
9:54AM on 02/15/2011
Didn't really care to watch it, but from the clips I've seen I thought that it at least looked like it was shot well.
Didn't really care to watch it, but from the clips I've seen I thought that it at least looked like it was shot well.
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11:56AM on 02/15/2011
Just reading this again just now made me want to watch this instead.
[link]
Just reading this again just now made me want to watch this instead.
[link]
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2:29PM on 02/15/2011
This article made my day. I'm glad there are some people who didn't think the movie was horrible. I thought it was entertaining.
This article made my day. I'm glad there are some people who didn't think the movie was horrible. I thought it was entertaining.
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2:32PM on 02/15/2011
You're not just waiting to pull the football away as I run up to kick it, are you?
You're not just waiting to pull the football away as I run up to kick it, are you?
2:38PM on 02/15/2011
@ Zombie HAHAHA awesome.
@ Zombie HAHAHA awesome.
10:42AM on 02/15/2011

I see what your saying

But it's still a bad movie. Poorly paces, one dimensional script, and bad actors did the most to turn me off this movie. I saw it opening weekend to give it a chance and it really disappointed. Everything else may be petty but it just adds to the big stuff that was wrong
But it's still a bad movie. Poorly paces, one dimensional script, and bad actors did the most to turn me off this movie. I saw it opening weekend to give it a chance and it really disappointed. Everything else may be petty but it just adds to the big stuff that was wrong
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12:45PM on 03/15/2011

Finally, a rational voice

Great review, Mike. I just saw the Last Airbender for the first time last night, and I honestly can't understand all the negative press the film has received.

Comparisons to the original TV series are mostly unrealistic as regards details; you can't fit 20 episodes (nearly 10 hours) of content into a film of less than two hours' duration without losing a lot of detail. The film uses the device of narrative (by Katara) to fill in some of the missing plot elements. It worked for me, and I
Great review, Mike. I just saw the Last Airbender for the first time last night, and I honestly can't understand all the negative press the film has received.

Comparisons to the original TV series are mostly unrealistic as regards details; you can't fit 20 episodes (nearly 10 hours) of content into a film of less than two hours' duration without losing a lot of detail. The film uses the device of narrative (by Katara) to fill in some of the missing plot elements. It worked for me, and I already knew the story because I watched the series. There was no other way to do it without inventing some pretext for sticking the words into the actors' mouths, which wouldn't have been any better received by those who already were looking for things to criticize.

One of the most vicious (and unjustified) criticisms of the film was its casting of Katara and Sokka using Caucasian actors. Oh, pleasejust stop with the racist bullcrap. The film is loaded with ethnic casting. The whole racial issue is mindless nonsense by people who are enslaved to their prejudices, and don't have enough open-mindedness to take the film on its own merits.

Not that the casting was flawless. I do think Nicola Peltz's portrayal of Katara was much less assertive (but, thankfully, also much less irritating) than the character in the TV series, but that's probably more due to the script and the director than to the actress's performance.

As a welcome offsetting counterbalance to the (film) Katara character's weakness, Jason Rathbone's portrayal of Sokka was a refreshing change from the unrealistically cartoonish character in the original series. Sokka was mostly a comic relief element in Book 1 of the TV series; in other words, a goofball. The film version of Sokka is more competent, more serious, and more sinceremore real, actually.

One of the best parts of the movie, character-wise, is Noah Ringer's Aang. There's great plot tension in his internal struggle with a sense of guilt for having run away from his Avatarial responsibility. It's a personal demon he has to vanquish before he can master waterbending and save the water nation at the climax of the of the film, where he does it with much more class and dignity than in the series. When he creates a monster wave that never actually breaks, it's a spectacular demonstration of POTENTIAL force that shows the fire nation jerks they're in for a major ass-kicking unless they get outa Dodge. Yet, he never has to harm anyone to get the job done. Very nice touch.

Another bullseye in the film is Shaun Toub's portrayal of Uncle (General) Iroh. Unlike the TV series, those who are unfamiliar with the story won't know whether he's a good guy or a bad guy at first. That makes his intervention at the Moon Spirit sanctuary a much more effective plot twist, where Iroh finally reveals himself as one of the good guys.

The sets and visual effects in the movie were well donewonderfully creative and imaginatively detailed images that went way beyond the rather sparsely detailed sets of the TV series, without being a distraction from the story line.

I hope Mr. Shyamalan does go on to make the film versions of Books 2 and 3. If he does, I predict that the trilogy will outlive all of the initial shortsighted criticisms and become a classic.
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10:04AM on 02/15/2011
I'm thinking about writing a column called The UNpopular opinion: The UNpopular opinion. It will be about how great all of these articles have been and how well not only do people generally seem to respond to them, but also praises them for their avoidance of opinion driven articles, like "I thought the directing was good." It will end by thanking its droves of loyal fans, all of which have jobs and don't live with their mothers.
I'm thinking about writing a column called The UNpopular opinion: The UNpopular opinion. It will be about how great all of these articles have been and how well not only do people generally seem to respond to them, but also praises them for their avoidance of opinion driven articles, like "I thought the directing was good." It will end by thanking its droves of loyal fans, all of which have jobs and don't live with their mothers.
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10:14AM on 02/15/2011
Hey, wait a minute. I think you might be using sarcasm to make a different point entirely...
Hey, wait a minute. I think you might be using sarcasm to make a different point entirely...
9:56AM on 02/15/2011
I haven't seen the movie and I don't plan on watching it. However, a few of my friends saw it and said it was out right terrible. And that's coming from a source who had so much anticipation for the movie and tried repeatedly to get me to go with them.
I haven't seen the movie and I don't plan on watching it. However, a few of my friends saw it and said it was out right terrible. And that's coming from a source who had so much anticipation for the movie and tried repeatedly to get me to go with them.
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10:51AM on 02/15/2011
I like to get my opinions from my friends, too.
I like to get my opinions from my friends, too.
5:19PM on 02/15/2011
Well, if your friends have the same taste... why not trust their opinion on a movie?
Well, if your friends have the same taste... why not trust their opinion on a movie?
-4
5:17PM on 02/15/2011
Like many others said, the pacing was all over the place. Slumdog Millionaire hopped from scenery to scenery without any reason. Everything was so rushed, it felt like there were scenes missing.
Like many others said, the pacing was all over the place. Slumdog Millionaire hopped from scenery to scenery without any reason. Everything was so rushed, it felt like there were scenes missing.
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9:46PM on 02/15/2011
The Last Airbender was a terrible film. To me, the only redeeming quality of the film was that it was so entertaining without trying to be. The entire film seemed like it was intentionally trying to be awful, very Kaufman-esque. The cinematography, the choreography, writing and the acting were deplorable amongst many other problems. There were so many random-close ups, some even lasting entire conversations. I felt that M. Night was intentionally trying to test the audience's patienceby trying
The Last Airbender was a terrible film. To me, the only redeeming quality of the film was that it was so entertaining without trying to be. The entire film seemed like it was intentionally trying to be awful, very Kaufman-esque. The cinematography, the choreography, writing and the acting were deplorable amongst many other problems. There were so many random-close ups, some even lasting entire conversations. I felt that M. Night was intentionally trying to test the audience's patienceby trying to make the closest thing he could to an Ed Wood film with a large budget. This movie had to be a prank. There were also scenes that lasted a mere 5 seconds that had no place within the story, and the plot itself jumped all over the place and tried to cram content of every episode into a messy incoherent storyline.
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8:01AM on 02/15/2011
I probably should have put my MFC name on the article. Oh well. Anyway, I wrote it, just so you have a proper place to direct your ire :)
I probably should have put my MFC name on the article. Oh well. Anyway, I wrote it, just so you have a proper place to direct your ire :)
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10:06AM on 02/15/2011
Well as long as you are asking for it, I think what this article needed was a Zombie Man.
Well as long as you are asking for it, I think what this article needed was a Zombie Man.
10:54AM on 02/15/2011
Ad hominem attacks say more about the attacker than the attackee.
Ad hominem attacks say more about the attacker than the attackee.
8:00AM on 02/15/2011
[double post]
[double post]
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7:31AM on 02/15/2011
this movie was terrible, as is the cartoon, but i'm still a fan of m night shyhalamaladingdong.
this movie was terrible, as is the cartoon, but i'm still a fan of m night shyhalamaladingdong.
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7:45AM on 02/15/2011
The only thing you said that makes sense is that the movie was terrible
The only thing you said that makes sense is that the movie was terrible
10:44AM on 02/15/2011
Shyamalan is an ok director, he's just a one trick pony with writing. and the Cartoon was amazing
Shyamalan is an ok director, he's just a one trick pony with writing. and the Cartoon was amazing
-6
7:28PM on 02/15/2011
While I respect your opinion, I cannot really condone it. I didn't see the film, so forgive me for being a hypocrite, but I have heard enough to know I don't need to see it. There are a lot of bad films out there, and we generally pass these up. Then there are some bad films we're willing to put up with, not because of the film itself, but because of what's behind it. Films as bad as what people say about Airbender should not be defended. This was a project that took something that people loved
While I respect your opinion, I cannot really condone it. I didn't see the film, so forgive me for being a hypocrite, but I have heard enough to know I don't need to see it. There are a lot of bad films out there, and we generally pass these up. Then there are some bad films we're willing to put up with, not because of the film itself, but because of what's behind it. Films as bad as what people say about Airbender should not be defended. This was a project that took something that people loved and adored. This was something that cost Hollywood millions of dollars. It was something that people had anticipated and wanted to see adapted right and the fans, of which there are so many, deserved something better. What we got is what many have called the worst film of the decade. That is a heavy insult to a film that spent so much money and took something that people absolutely loved and turned it into trash. Again, I respect your opinion, but in this case, your defending a movie that really shouldn't be defended. It's almost like saying "well, you screwed up Hollywood, but that's okay. It wasn't nearly as bad as they say it was, so we'll forgive you a little". And, as anyone might tell, that is just wrong. Hollywood shouldn't be forgiven for this mess, they should be punished.
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8:06PM on 02/15/2011
A movie shouldn't be defended because you heard it was bad? I shouldn't give my opinion because most people don't agree with it? Really?
A movie shouldn't be defended because you heard it was bad? I shouldn't give my opinion because most people don't agree with it? Really?
12:12AM on 02/16/2011
Dude, what you are saying makes no sense! A) If you haven't seen the film, then you quite literally, are not in a position to talk about it- trust your friends' opinions all you want, and don't see it because they did not like it, but you cannot say someone's wrong for or can't have an opinion because you herd it was bad. That's insulting to everyone with an opinion.

B)Stating that a movie (any movie, much less something you haven't seen) doesn't deserve to be defended, well then, congrats
Dude, what you are saying makes no sense! A) If you haven't seen the film, then you quite literally, are not in a position to talk about it- trust your friends' opinions all you want, and don't see it because they did not like it, but you cannot say someone's wrong for or can't have an opinion because you herd it was bad. That's insulting to everyone with an opinion.

B)Stating that a movie (any movie, much less something you haven't seen) doesn't deserve to be defended, well then, congrats sir, you have just given a very cool profession a quick kick in the pants. Any and every movie is ripe for critiquing on both end spectrums, defense and debasing.

You are more than a hypocrite, and you should be ashamed of the utter stupidity you just lent to all movie buffs everywhere.
11:09AM on 02/16/2011
i am a fan of the series in fact i own all three books, and tend to watch on a fairly regular basis, as others have said to me if you want to weigh in on any movie you have to have seen it, i heard pirahnna was a terrible film, but i still went and you know what? i loved it, it was exactly what it should've been a movie about pirahnna eating sexy teens. as for the last airbender, i support the idea it is not a terrible film, i don't think its great, and miss the humour, but as a film on the
i am a fan of the series in fact i own all three books, and tend to watch on a fairly regular basis, as others have said to me if you want to weigh in on any movie you have to have seen it, i heard pirahnna was a terrible film, but i still went and you know what? i loved it, it was exactly what it should've been a movie about pirahnna eating sexy teens. as for the last airbender, i support the idea it is not a terrible film, i don't think its great, and miss the humour, but as a film on the whole its damn decent the story is good, the actors all fine, though the soka, moon princess romance was rushed, i have seen truly terrible movies, not because i expected them to be good but because unlike most i will watch somethign before i call it bad. and people who don't and still act like their opinion can hold water about something they have not experienced is just infuriating, you wanna not watch a movie fine, but don't act like you know anything about it because your friend says so, everyones experience with a movie is individual it may be shared by others but ultimately it is specific to them. so go watch and have an actual opinion and stop being a sheep
-9
10:56AM on 02/15/2011
M. Night Shyamalan is one of the best directors out there and definetely one of the most creatives ever lived. Thank god guys like him still exist in Hollywood.
Having said that, Last Airbender was his only really bad movie unfortunately. It was just a bad made movie - bad pacing, bad acting, and so on.
But who cares, still can't wait for his next since every other movie by him is either a masterpiece (6th sense and Unbreakable), really great (Village) or just pretty goood (the others).

We
M. Night Shyamalan is one of the best directors out there and definetely one of the most creatives ever lived. Thank god guys like him still exist in Hollywood.
Having said that, Last Airbender was his only really bad movie unfortunately. It was just a bad made movie - bad pacing, bad acting, and so on.
But who cares, still can't wait for his next since every other movie by him is either a masterpiece (6th sense and Unbreakable), really great (Village) or just pretty goood (the others).

We all know that in today's time noone has an own opinion and just parrots stuff he has heard on the streets or read on facebook or wherever, so he can be cool to "belong to the group".
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