M. Night Shyamalan is currently enjoying what has become a rarity in recent years — critical acclaim and a bonafide hit. His Fox series “Wayward Pines” has emerged as one of the highlights on the spring TV listings, and with the found footage horror “The Visit” around the corner, we could be on the cusp on a Shyamalaissance. But the director has always taken his knocks in stride, and one of his most savagely reviewed efforts, the big screen version of the popular children’s series “The Last Airbender,” he says is a favorite of the intended audience.
“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,” the director explained about his approach to IGN. “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.”
“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,” he added. “It was for them, to talk about mysticism and Eastern philosophies through a 10-year-old’s vernacular. So, you know, these are business propositions, which have very little interest to me, of like, ‘Hey, the business proposition is to get Megan Fox to be…’ You know, ‘You should age it ’til it’s that.’ That wasn’t the source material, you know what I mean? Whereas, also, like a Transformers, it’s really fascinating, because it’s valid for Transformers. You know why it’s valid? Because it’s the little boys that were playing with them are grown up now. They’re the ones who wanted to see Megan Fox. That’s absolutely appropriate, you know what I mean?”
And while there’s nothing wrong with making a movie with the aim of entertaining a younger demographic, that doesn’t mean it can’t be coherent, entertaining, and enjoyable for adults, which frankly, “The Last Airbender” missed on all of those marks. But it’s a spirited defence, nonetheless, and at least shows the filmmaker had good, if failed, intentions.
Meanwhile, any conversation with Shyamalan can’t seem to pass without mentioning a possible sequel to “Unbreakable.” Two years ago, the director said it was “getting closer,” but clearly, it doesn’t seem that way. However, he is open to the idea of TV being the home for the followup….along with some other creative avenues.
“Could you do a six-episode ‘Unbreakable’ series on Netflix or HBO? Yeah! That’s cool,” he enthused to IGN about the possibilities. “I even had an idea of doing a story that goes in one form, and a second part that’s in another form, and a third one’s in a different form. You never do the same form. It would be like, movie, then, let’s say, cable, to TV, whatever, and then a play; it goes straight online, and it finishes like that. It’s in four different forms, and it never goes back to the old one. It could be kind of cool.”
That sounds ambitious and I’m not sure that a Netflix audience is the same one that goes out to watch plays, but Shyamalan seems to be thinking of ways to shake up storytelling methods. Thoughts? Is “The Last Airbender” underrated? Should “Unbreakable” go to TV or uh, the stage? Let us know below.