MCN Blogs
David Poland

By David Poland

Surprise! Last Airbender Might Be Fun!

I know… I know!!! Kids already dig it.
But it looks, from this trailer, that it might actually be a quite watchable kids movie… more Potter than GI Trannys. Great.
Still, do we really need it in 3D. (Rhetorical question, really.)

Be Sociable, Share!

26 Responses to “Surprise! Last Airbender Might Be Fun!”

  1. christian says:

    This is exactly the kind of project I want to see do. He’s got a great eye and he’ll bring a different sensibility to what could have been a rote film.

  2. LexG says:

    I rarely see kids’ flicks but every teaser and trailer I’ve seen for this has looked solid bordering on awesome. Other than the fact that it is has that no-charisma, bad-actor douche Dev Patel in it.
    Why are we being subjected to HIM again, especially almost two years after the very obvious “alleged breakthrough by an unknown actor who will NEVER catch on”? Even that smoking-hot chick from Slumdog hasn’t been in anything else since. Did those kids miss the memo that you’re supposed to inexplicably show up in a GIANT MOVIE mere months after your sleeper sensation?
    But of course it looks good. Shyamlan RULES and is one of the two or three most unfairly maligned directors working today.
    Nothing needs 3-D ever again. Make it stop, please.

  3. The Big Perm says:

    I don’t know about unfairly maligned…I was a HUGE fan through Signs, then waivered with The Village…which had its moments. But man, his last two movies have sucked the big one in a way that’s unique. Not many movies can be shitty in that special way…not just shitty, but sure of how non-shitty they are. At least I’m sure the makers of G.I Joe knew they were making garbage, but Shamalayan has no idea. It’s like he dares the audience not to hate him.
    Speaking of shit, has anyone seen Birdemic around here or what?

  4. LexG says:

    I disagree in that I liked Lady in the Water and The Happening in their own weird ways… But that unironic, often *embarrassing* earnestness with which Shyamalan made his last three movies (and arguably the more successful Unbreakdable and Signs) has come to represent a certain type of dogged cinematic integrity.
    Even if they’re full of bad laughs and precious gimmicks and just plain strangeness, there’s a singularity of vision and purpose, and best of all, a passion to go out on a limb with it. He takes pulp storytelling seriously (to most way too seriously), without any snark or irony or remove. Sure, there are stray bits in The Happening that can’t have been unintentional, but it reminds me of Poland’s review of The Lovely Bones: People have to mock or distance themselves from something that unwinkingly sincere and uncomfortable.

  5. Joe Straat says:

    While I won’t go as far to say I liked Lady in the Water or The Happening, I did bend over backwards to find nice things to say about them. Lady in the Water has a very good Paul Giamatti performance and it keeps its composure even when it’s at its most ridiculous. The Happening is a bad movie, but at least it’s entertainingly so. If someone wants to pop it in at a party or something for the hell of it, I’ll have no objections.
    The problem I think is Shyamalan stopped writing scenes and characters that felt like real people reacting to these extremely crazy events. In The Sixth Sense, the conversations with Bruce Willis and Hayley Joel Osment felt very natural, and the scene where Cole finally explains his abilities to his mother is close to a perfect scene. Compare that to where Mark Wahlberg explains his mood ring to the little girl in The Happening, which is stilted, forced, and falls with an extremely dull thud, or hell, the last half-hour of The Happening period. But hey, if it went off the rails, it went off the rails IN STYLE.

  6. Pretty much my thoughts exactly DP, except that this is the lone tentpoler that I actually want to see in 3D. I fell in movie-love with Shyamalan after The Sixth Sense and Unbreakable like everyone else. For what it’s worth, I kept the faith even after his later ‘noble failures’ become more failure and less noble. I still say his bad movies are more interesting than most directors’ ‘good movies’, but there is a clear downward slope from The Sixth Sense to The Happening. None the less, this is a terrific trailer, one that instantly puts The Last Airbender near the top of my must-see list, as opposed to some kind of call of duty, supporting a favorite artist to very end. I’ve wanted to see M. Night regain his mojo in the same way I wanted Michael Jackson put out one last great album before his theoretical retirement. I know I’m prepping myself for possible disappointment, and I know I should take offense at the ‘yellow-washing’ casting issues, but for the moment, I’m optimistic. We’ll see…

  7. jeffmcm says:

    I would call a lot of the ‘sincerity’ in Shyamalan’s movies ‘forced’ or ‘contrived’. When he wants to send a message he should go to Western Union.
    Giamatti in Lady in the Water was one of the best examples of ‘Great performance in a terrible movie’ of the decade.
    Good director, bad writer.
    Oh, and Perm, I’ve seen Birdemic. It’s even worse than the trailer makes it appear! No bird attacks for the first 40 minutes or so!

  8. LYT says:

    I would love to see a movie like this in 3-D if it were shot for 3D. Which it wasn’t.
    I’m sure I’ll see it however the press screening has it, but still…notice how the trailer for Resident Evil 4 specifically mentions the Cameron/Pace camera, because they no audiences are starting to tell the difference and smell BS.

  9. LYT says:

    Ahem…they KNOW. Damn typos.

  10. Foamy Squirrel says:

    Dev Patel was hired because fans of the series were SUPREMELY PISSED that a cast representing the varied cultures of Asia – from the Aleutians through to the Indian subcontinent – were going to be played by the whitest bunch of anglo-saxons you had ever seen.
    I have no desire to reread the ranting, but 10 seconds of googling will probably turn up the frothing at the mouth that resulted when one of the casting agents posted a notice saying that Koreans should turn up at auditions wearing kimonos if possible.

  11. The Big Perm says:

    Lex, I don’t mind sincerety…I’d like to see less ironic snarky movies, personally…but still, being sincere isn’t enough when the movie is monumentally stupid. I’ll take an ironic Kick Ass over a sincere Lady in the Water any day. And it’s not really sincere as much as it is Shamalyan is so far up his own ass and his ego is off the rails and he thinks his shit don’t stink. Well it DOES, Mr. Night. That’s why now you’re directing children’s live action cartoons.
    Jeff, I’m not surprised to hear that about Birdemic. The director seems like a mental patient in real life. Now THERE’S a sincere shitty movie. and no one gave this asshole 50 million dollars to finance it either.

  12. Lane Myers says:

    This trailer looks pretty good. But something is bugging me…this is like the 3rd trailer and the kid hasn’t spoken. Does anyone know if the character talks in the movie? Maybe they’re just trying to age it up…if so, seems to be working…

  13. palmtree says:

    I’m actually interested in seeing Aasif Mandvi from the Daily Show end up in this. Seriously, that show is a one-way ticket to a movie career! I’m guessing they cast him in the same clan as Dev Patel.

  14. leahnz says:

    i am also rooting for m. night shyamalongadingdong to pull his head out of his bum
    re: last airbender, it’s quite interesting the need to white-i-fy ‘ethnic’ main characters for flicks of mass consumption even in this day and age. what is it saying? it’s saying, “well you know, as enlightened as society has supposedly become, we still don’t think the (american) family masses will relate to an asian protagonist/leads, i mean it’s okay for the supporting players (and the director), but we just don’t trust the natives to bring in the kaching. after all, white is universal!”
    the more things change the more they stay the same
    (having said that, with my boy having been a fan of the tv series, the movie doesn’t look half-bad and i expect i’ll be there for the bending extravaganza. plus, any movie with cliff curtis in it gets a gold star right off the bat for at least one bout of excellence in casting, with the maori boy no doubt doing the job of ‘ethnic everyrace man’ with his usual aplomb)

  15. jeffmcm says:

    Big Perm, I didn’t think the director seemed like a mental patient when he introduced the film here in LA, but he did seem (a) pretty dumb, and (b) quite drunk.

  16. The Big Perm says:

    I’ve talked to a few people who worked on the movie, and they had stories that basically made him sound like a mental patient. Amongst other things, which you can find on the web and I’m not saying these are true since I didn’t hear directly about them, are many allegations of sexual harassment, stalking, and promising payments but not delivering (this one I heard first hand a few times).

  17. christian says:

    Is BIRDEMIC just THE ROOM PART DEUX? It seems like a bunch of hipsters guffawing to the sound of their own laughter.

  18. The Big Perm says:

    I think a lot of times the people who go to bad movies to laugh at them WISH they were hipsters. They usually are more like the CHUD folk, chunky and unwashed and unshaven, from what I see of them. I guess that’s unfair since I don’t go into too many “bad movie screenings,” but when I see pictures of them they all look like Uncle Jed from the trailer park.
    I have to admit I don’t see the appeal of that, really…going to see shitty movies to make fun of it. I like shitty movies and I like making fun of them, but the culture of people going every weekend to see the same piece of garbage is really alien to me. It’s just snarky holier than thou horse hockey as far as I’m concerned. And like how people put up websites dedicated to making fun of terrible movies…I don’t know, man, isn’t there anything better to do with one’s life? Why not like good movies, or at least have an honest appreciation for crap?

  19. jeffmcm says:

    Christian, I have a hard time reconciling your most recent post with the fact that you’re the king of the Skidoo fan club.

  20. Krillian says:

    I’m still rooting for Night to revisit that Life of Pi project. It’s a good book.

  21. christian says:

    A) Not a hipster
    B) Love good bad films
    C) Otto Preminger

  22. LexG says:

    They should make a movie about Christian and jeffmcm called SKIDOUCHE.
    I am laughing so hard at that one, I can barely hit the “post” button.

  23. jeffmcm says:

    Okay, Christian, so what about non-hipsters (which is how I would describe myself) who enjoyed Birdemic? I came late to The Room so I can’t say I’m part of its bandwagon. And how are you defining ‘good bad films’? Skidoo has a big budget, famous cast, and reasonable skill behind the camera, but I enjoyed Birdemic more.

  24. christian says:

    Jeff, I’m sure you’re aware since you were at the screening that I don’t guffaw at SKIDOO and nudge other people to feign superiority as is the case with some good bad films. Preminger is a celebrated director and the film is part of his auteurist canon, bad, good or weird, in this case, all the above. I think THE APPLE is awful, but not awful fun.

  25. jeffmcm says:

    Thanks for responding, I’m still not sure exactly how to understand what you’re saying though. I enjoyed Birdemic and I did laugh but I wouldn’t say that it involved ‘feigning superiority’, for me the experience was more like watching a film that had been made on Mars. Ditto with After Last Season or Plan 9 from Outer Space or plenty of others.

  26. LexG says:


The Hot Blog

Quote Unquotesee all »

It shows how out of it I was in trying to be in it, acknowledging that I was out of it to myself, and then thinking, “Okay, how do I stop being out of it? Well, I get some legitimate illogical narrative ideas” — some novel, you know?

So I decided on three writers that I might be able to option their material and get some producer, or myself as producer, and then get some writer to do a screenplay on it, and maybe make a movie.

And so the three projects were “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep,” “Naked Lunch” and a collection of Bukowski. Which, in 1975, forget it — I mean, that was nuts. Hollywood would not touch any of that, but I was looking for something commercial, and I thought that all of these things were coming.

There would be no Blade Runner if there was no Ray Bradbury. I couldn’t find Philip K. Dick. His agent didn’t even know where he was. And so I gave up.

I was walking down the street and I ran into Bradbury — he directed a play that I was going to do as an actor, so we know each other, but he yelled “hi” — and I’d forgot who he was.

So at my girlfriend Barbara Hershey’s urging — I was with her at that moment — she said, “Talk to him! That guy really wants to talk to you,” and I said “No, fuck him,” and keep walking.

But then I did, and then I realized who it was, and I thought, “Wait, he’s in that realm, maybe he knows Philip K. Dick.” I said, “You know a guy named—” “Yeah, sure — you want his phone number?”

My friend paid my rent for a year while I wrote, because it turned out we couldn’t get a writer. My friends kept on me about, well, if you can’t get a writer, then you write.”
~ Hampton Fancher

“That was the most disappointing thing to me in how this thing was played. Is that I’m on the phone with you now, after all that’s been said, and the fundamental distinction between what James is dealing with in these other cases is not actually brought to the fore. The fundamental difference is that James Franco didn’t seek to use his position to have sex with anyone. There’s not a case of that. He wasn’t using his position or status to try to solicit a sexual favor from anyone. If he had — if that were what the accusation involved — the show would not have gone on. We would have folded up shop and we would have not completed the show. Because then it would have been the same as Harvey Weinstein, or Les Moonves, or any of these cases that are fundamental to this new paradigm. Did you not notice that? Why did you not notice that? Is that not something notable to say, journalistically? Because nobody could find the voice to say it. I’m not just being rhetorical. Why is it that you and the other critics, none of you could find the voice to say, “You know, it’s not this, it’s that”? Because — let me go on and speak further to this. If you go back to the L.A. Times piece, that’s what it lacked. That’s what they were not able to deliver. The one example in the five that involved an issue of a sexual act was between James and a woman he was dating, who he was not working with. There was no professional dynamic in any capacity.

~ David Simon