This Post was written 1 week prior to The Last Airbender being released in theaters
Two years ago when I was first introduced to Avatar: The Last Air Bender, I was skeptical. At first glance it seemed like just another children’s cartoon on Nickelodeon. But after just a few episodes I was hooked. The writing was clever, the animation was great, the story was very innovative, and the fusion of actual martial arts with the elemental “bending”was seamless. I immediately went out and bought the 2nd and final seasons and finished them within weeks. So you can imagine my excitement when I heard that the show had been optioned for a movie. My excitement quickly faded back to skepticism when I saw who was to direct the movie. M. Night Shyamalan.
Shyamalan’s first film The Sixth Sense was great. It was frightening, it had great suspense, it was well acted, and had a twist that belongs up there with The Usual Suspects "Keyser Söze" reveal. Since then M. Night’s movies have taken a steady downward trend. Signs I enjoyed, it offered some good suspense and some truly frightening moments, Unbreakable I initially did not like, however after seeing it a few more times I grew to appreciate the movie. The Village I was excited for, unfortunately it failed to deliver. The story was intriguing at first but quickly became nonsensical, culminating in a twist that left me feeling cheated. Lady in the Water was a poor departure from Shyamalan's usual formula, aside from some interesting visuals, the film fell flat. Shyamalan’s latest installment, The Happening, remains one of the worst movies to date that I have ever seen. I will not even begin to describe all of the faults in this film, but after watching it, I had a decent idea of why all of the characters were inexplicably killing themselves as I felt a strong urge to shove something sharp into my throat rather than finish the movie.
Why Shyamalan was selected to direct the film adaptation of Avatar, I do not know. But I am hoping that it will be the movie to re-establish him as a visionary young director, and not proof that his first couple films were nothing more than happy accidents.