Many folks are still reeling from M. Night Shyamalan’s adaptation of The Last Airbender, so those people might not want to read this. Now the rest of you who stuck around while gritting your teeth, you’re going to be surprised to hear that Shyamalan is out there defending the film in a recent interview with IGN.
Now forget the Honest Trailer for Airbender and the multitude of poor reviews that flowed out like the strongest rivers. You have to think about this from Shyamalan’s perspective. He’s created a piece of art and, according to the interview, it wasn’t meant for the eyes of those with fully matured brains:
“It’s really weird because on the show the average age was, like, nine-years-old,” the director said. “My child was nine-years-old. So you could make it one of two ways. You could make it for that same audience, which is what I did — for nine and 10-year-olds — or you could do the Transformers version and have Megan Fox. I didn’t do that. That would have felt like, ‘Well, I’m going to make a movie about a kids show that my 10-year-old is watching and not make it for her. I make it for my guy friends.’ That felt like a betrayal of the innocence of the piece. In retrospect, is it too young to go out — it’s like what your intention is versus what they want it to be. Clearly, 10-year-olds — I go out and 10-year-olds are like, ‘That’s my favorite show! I love that movie!’ Parents come up to me and go, ‘They’ve watched The Last Airbender 74 times!’ Those kids, it’s for them.”
Now I can give him that, from just that base perspective. Sure, it’s a show made for kids and the audience is going to be kids. It’s the same argument people make about Star Wars and other franchises that push a lot of toys. But the problem is that fans really, really hate Shyamalan’s adaptation. It wasn’t just a group of snooty adults treating this movie like a rotted piece of meat, it was fans that felt slighted by the same guy who burned everybody with The Happening and Lady In The Water.
His defense also doesn’t explain away a lot of the criticisms that have been lobbed at the film, such as whitewashing the characters, silly dialogue, and a poorly shot film. I can’t say for sure what you should think because I’ve never had the heart to sit through the entire movie. But I’m sure some of you might carry some fine opinions about it. Is Shyamalan right?