Imagine that you are M. Night Shyamalan, and one dark, scary night, an idea pops into your head. You know that this idea is ludicrous—how on earth could you possibly remake something that is already so beloved and acclaimed? You decide to do it anyway. After all, you made “The Sixth Sense”! That was a good movie! You can do anything! If there’s anyone that can make a live-action version of “Avatar: The Last Airbender,” it’s you. M. Night Shyamalan, Is there anything you can’t do?
This, no doubt, was the exact thought process Shyamalan had when he woke up in a cold sweat the night after binging every episode of “Avatar: The Last Airbender” in a feverish haste. We’ve all been there, but only this man dared bring his obsession with a boy with a blue arrow on his head to the point of a live-action remake. Thank god Shyamalan was the one to take on this fierce duty. Any man that worked on the “Stuart Little” screenplay has my trust. He sure didn’t let me down either. “The Last Airbender” is a fresh, scathing criticism on what it means to make a “good movie” and proves that anyone can make a live-action version of a cartoon as long as they’re friends with Dev Patel and have a degree from NYU
Every aspect of “The Last Airbender” is iconic and perfectly made, but the casting and characters particularly stand out. While the film does feature some actors you may have heard of, like Dev Patel and that-one guy-from-“Twilight” Jackson Rathbone, it also features many other lesser-known actors like Random White Kid as Water Nation Tribe Child and Tiny White Boy as a character from the animated show that was definitely not white in the original. Shyamalan did face backlash for having a largely white cast for a piece that consisted largely of Asian characters. His case is not helped, however, by the fact that Dev Patel’s character, Zuko, was almost played by Jesse McCartney. Shyamalan almost got lucky that McCartney’s tour schedule conflicted with the shooting schedule.
The plot itself is not changed drastically by Shyamalan from the original, however, he does take some liberties in how characters’ names are pronounced. In the TV show, the protagonist’s name is “Aang,” whereas, in the movie, it is pronounced more like “Ong.” This could be because Shyamalan felt that he needed to spice things up, as a film about people that can bend elements is kinda boring on its own. On the subject of element bending, this film has fantastic graphics. If I would have seen the film in 3D, I would have almost definitely felt as if my eyebrows were going to get scorched off from the intense fire bending. Or, if they would have had the movie in 4D, I would be able to smell the arrogance of Shyamalan as he directs what he thinks is a good movie.
In my insightful reviews, there is a common occurrence of movies directed, written and produced by a single person. These movies are just more impressive than others. “The Last Airbender” and “The Room” (dir. Tommy Wiseau) are just two movies that have had a profound impact on society, and they would never have gotten made if it weren’t for the two men that could be considered the greatest auteurs of the 21st century.
While “The Last Airbender” may have secured reviews that state it could be the “worst movie ever made” and ask the important question, “How did Shyamalan get it so wrong?” the critics don’t understand that films are hard, okay? OKAY?! It takes a lot of effort and coordination to make a movie, let alone make a movie racially and artistically accurate to the source material. M. Night is trying his hardest. And he already wrote the script for “Stuart Little,” so I think we should give him a break! “The Last Airbender” really is very good—if you watch it with your eyes closed and with the sound muted. Because of effort, I give this film five Razzies out of five (which is how many it actually won). However, because Jesse McCartney didn’t end up in the film, Shyamalan is on thin ice.