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Will M. Night be allowed to make more “Airbender” films?


By Sean O’Connell
Hollywoodnews.com: M. Night Shyamalan’s live-action adaptation of the animated hit “Avatar: The Last Airbender” stumbled out of the gate yesterday, receiving harsh reviews from the critical community.

The fantasy epic — which is competing against a red-hot “Twilight” sequel for Summer 2010’s July 4th crown — was criticized for being too slow, too boring, and too white-washed (the original series was steeped in Asian tradition, while Shyamalan’s film is not). It currently has an embarassing 9-percent “fresh” grade on Rotten Tomatoes, with 88 “rotten” reviews and only 9 “fresh” takes. Top critic Joe Morgenstern of the Wall Street Journal said the film “constitutes a form of Chinese water torture,” while Roger Ebert brilliantly wrote, “I close with the hope that the title proves prophetic.”

But will it? Critics don’t matter half as much as crowds hen deciding a franchise’s fate. If we did, George Lucas never would have been allowed to finish his “Star Wars” prequel following the travesty that was “The Phantom Menace.”

Paramount probably felt discouraged by the critical response to Shyamalan’s movie. But now the studio will turn its attention to the box office to see if “Avatar” fans respond to Night’s vision.

The director set his film up as the telling of Book One in the series. Clearly he intends to tell the remaining two books, Earth and Fire. And if “Airbender” makes money, he likely will get his shot. But if it fails, like the similar “Golden Compass” did, then no sequels will ever arrive.

Or, it’s possible the franchise will continue with another director at the helm. See the “Narnia” series for a recent example of a story that shifted gears (and creative directions).

So much is riding on the box office receipts that roll in this weekend. They’ll go a long way to determining if this is, indeed, the “Last Airbender,” or the first in a trilogy.

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5 Comments

  • July 2, 2010 | Permalink |

    I personally liked the movie, I mean there was where they pronounced the names differently & ethnically looked different from the animated series but I’d give it 10 out of 10 or possibly infinite. I can’t wait until they do the other two books. GO LAST AIRBENDER!!!

  • July 3, 2010 | Permalink |

    Man, were we watching the same movie? It was an epic failure in my eyes. Nothing followed with the animated series. The charters were wooden with no personalities what-so-ever and I left the movie wanting my money back. Throwing rotten tomatoes at Shyamalan would have helped.

  • July 8, 2010 | Permalink |

    I agree with Mint. Anonymous must have gotten lost. The movie was aweful and Gayamalan needs to be summoned to an “Agni Key” LOL.

  • July 24, 2010 | Permalink |

    Are you kidding me? You guys just don’t like it because you don’t have imagination! We enjoyed it from the very beginning to the end and I am also a fan of the cartoon version. You guys are so caught up at your stupid “oh-so-real-life” movies and shows, at least M. Night has some imagination… Plus the rest of the people in the audience agreed with me too! Some clapped, other’s kept on telling other people it was REALLY good. I, for one, ca’t wait for the next movie, GO M. NIGHT!

  • July 25, 2010 | Permalink |

    As an Airbender fan (the series of course), I found the film had nothing on the animated series, Shyamalan essentially churned out a Hollywood “hit” in hopes of reigniting his career. All action without results (in the series conflict met with consequences, whereas in the film fights had nothing to do with the storyline, fights were flashy but had no respect for the consequences of war), poor acting with terrible casting (it is not enough that the actors look vaguely like their animated counterparts and have some understanding of the martial arts) all amounted to nothing more than an action film. Shymalans version could be considered average in terms of current popular cinema, but when compared to cinema as a whole the ‘The Last Airbender’ was by far one of the worst films I have ever seen. Kurosawa would roll in his grave.

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