The Last Airbender

I’m not sure if I’m alone in feeling this way, but I currently consider M. Night Shyamalan’s The Last Airbender one of my most anticipated films of 2010. As a fan of the original TV series, I’ve been consistently impressed with what we’ve seen of the film so far — particularly the teaser and some recent photos. Casting issues aside, I’ve gotten the sense that Shyamalan really gets what makes the series so great. The LAT’s Hero Complex blog recently got a chance to speak with M. Night about the film, and he reveals some interesting details on what led him to choose the project.

He says that it was his 7-year old daughter who hooked him on the series:

“She made us watch as a family and all four of us were hooked, “ Shyamalan said. “I was like, ‘This would make a killer movie.  And my wife who really has been kind of in neutral about my career was insane about it. Insane about it: ‘You have to do it. This is it. This is the one.’ ”

The project does indeed seem perfectly suited to Shyamalan. I’ve always been a fan of his visual style, but his screenwriting has gotten increasingly suspect over the years. He’s still tackling the script for Airbender, but at least has to remain somewhat true to the original series. It’s also much more light-hearted than his increasingly morose (or in The Happening’s case, hilarious) projects over the last few years, which should hopefully be a good change of pace for him.

It also marks the first time we get to see him tackle elaborate fight scenes wuxia-style, and I’d love to see how his visual style translates to action choreography.  We got a taste of it with the teaser — which featured Aang (Noah Ringer) performing a bo-staff form while showing off his powers in a glorious long take.

Shyamalan goes on to say that he was also drawn to the Buddhist philosophy in the series, and that he sees similar elements in The Matrix and Star Wars:

“Aang himself needs to find balance to be the Avatar and to master each of these elements,” the director said. “We get to see the process of someone mastering themselves through the three seasons to get to peace.”

“In the first ‘Matrix,’ you realize that what you’re seeing is all false,” Shyamalan said. “Those are really ancient ideas. Basic old, old religion. This has that as well. So if you go on the journey and you’ll feel that epiphany on top of a great roller-coaster ride. It’s going to be something.“

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