The Last Airbender Trailer: M. Night Shyamalan Raids His Netflix Queue


After the nearly career-killing disaster that was The Happening, M. Night Shyamalan could have tried yet again to recapture the faux-Hitchcock weirdness of The Sixth Sense, or he could have blown things up to start over. Well, it looks like someone went out and got himself a large quantity of dynamite. And a bunch of DVDs. Say hello to M. Night Shyamalan v.2 in the trailer for The Last Airbender...

As the hilariously deep-voiced narrator intones at the beginning of the new full-length trailer: "The power to control the elements is bestowed upon a chosen few." And, as it turns out, the power to control all the elements is bestowed upon a kid with a shaved head. So, perfect.

Anyway, Shyamalan's uses this other-worldly premise to borrow set pieces from Lord of the Rings, Superman, The Matrix, Star Trek, The Matrix again, Watchmen, Star Wars and The Matrix (he really must have liked that one) and while on first blush this seems like a step back, the trailer is pretty confident in its derivative nature. The only question: Will audiences -- who partially shunned Kick-Ass because they didn't want to see little kids play grown-up -- want to watch a little kid save the universe? If it's in 3D, probably.


Here's the YouTube embed (but Apple's got a higher quality version in case it gets yanked):


  • Charlie Accetta says:

    It’s amazing how quickly the dorks took over Hollywood and spread the dorkiness throughout the film industry. It used to be they knew their place in Finance and stayed there. Not anymore; now they’re deep into the creative and promotional side of things and they’ve driven the real people back to Montana and Oklahoma to tend cattle. Fortunately, real people remain the currency behind all this foolishness. If they don’t buy this crap, the dorks lose. Problem is, failed dorky may be replaced by dorkier still.

  • bah2501 says:

    Um I am not sure "faux-Hitchcock weirdness" would have been a good fit for a live-action "the last airbender"... I don't know if that counts as dynamite blowing up anything or starting over, I think he is merely adopting a different approach that is suitable for different material.
    The one thing that concerns me about the trailer is that there aren't any attempts to make the super-kid appear human, or likeable... or have a bit of dialogue... Super-hero-esque movies don't work as well when people can't relate to/like the good guy, so for me, it remains to be seen what happens when the kid gets dialogue, is outside a fight scene, etc.

  • bah2501 says:

    Oh I wanted to reply to the "dorky" comment... I don't think that's very nice to kids! And if you think about it, kids who like the Last Airbender are less dorky than kids who like a bunch of other crud that is put out for their consumption... like pokemon, or yu gi oh playing cards... or magic the gathering playing cards, etc etc etc. I guess you should just give kids a break and lay off the "dorky" talk, or else tell us what kids should be watching instead on saturday morning.

  • Jason says:

    Mr. Rosen, you come off like the director made up the movie by borrowing from others, but you failed to mention it's an adaptation of a cartoon from nickelodeon. Is the article a work of a critic or a journaist?

  • Christopher Rosen says:

    The work of someone who thinks this looks pretty crappy, actually. And yes, I know it's a Nickelodeon adaptation. Doesn't mean he didn't borrow all those images from all those other movies.

  • heyhey says:

    I'm not sure the author of this article is even remotely familiar with the source material. It's a kids show named Avatar: The Last Airbender, and has always had very fantastic environments. It would seem you're trying to bash the director just because he's doing something new, not saying you're wrong for your assessment of him, but the example used is a weak one.

  • Matthew says:

    I just wanted to be another one to remind the author that this is, in fact, an adaptation of Avatar: The Last Airbender.
    Also the Matrix borrowed literal set pieces from Dark City, and i'm sure the other films listed borrowed from others as well. Either way you hate all too much to not be a critic, and The Happening was far from a career killer. It made three times it's budget, can you say your articles have grossed three times your yearly salary for this website, or anywhere else you have had works posted?
    I think you are being far too critical in an industry that is constantly borrowing from itself.

  • Colander says:

    I'm afraid of how the talky parts will play in general. I'm praying (not really) that it doesn't come across as a SUPER SERIOUS KIDS MOVIE, as I'm not sure that is something he can pull off. Here's hoping.

  • dave says:

    Christopher Rosen obviously did not do his research.
    I knew he was clueless after I read:
    "After the nearly career-killing disaster that was The Happening"
    The Happening cost approx $48 million and grossed $163+ million
    before DVD sales!

  • burlivesleftnut says:

    Writers here can't stop from introducing their own editorial regurgitant into the columns anymore. Used to be nice reading, but now every article is mean spirited in some form or fashion. Not only does he knock M. Knight, but Movieline gets yet ANOTHER dig at Kick-Ass when these two movies couldn't be more unrelated.

  • Christopher Rosen says:

    Guys, I fail to see how this being an adaptation of "Avatar: The Last Airbender" automatically discounts that it looks like every single movie I mentioned to the letter. Why are these things mutually exclusive?
    @Matthew, @Dave: Are we really revising history to say that "The Happening" was anything other than a disaster? That was easily one of the most reviled films to be released in the last five years. Domestically, it grossed just $64 million, $30 million of which came on opening weekend. For you none math majors, then, 47% of its gross came from opening weekend. But, yeah, no research for me. The Happening was clearly one of the great successes of the last few years. My mistake.

  • burlivesleftnut says:

    Well it obviously didn't even "nearly" kill his career. Two years later and the guy has one of the most anticipated movies for kids of the summer. But I am sure you will continue to skull f**k this movie and M. Night until well after it's release.

  • CiscoMan says:

    Look, I don't mean to come off as a comment troll, because really I love this site, but please be careful with statements like "Will audiences — who partially shunned Kick-Ass because they didn’t want to see little kids play grown-up — want to watch a little kid save the universe?"
    Is there only one audience now? A hard R-rated post-modern comic adaptation is setting precedent for a likely PG-13 (at most) fantastical action-adventure Nickelodeon cartoon adaptation?
    And really, let it go with the Kick-Ass lambasting. The way you guys keep bringing it up, I'd swear Matthew Vaughn slept with your mother, girlfriend, and/or daughter.

  • Mike the Movie Tyke says:

    Needs a little Speilbergian humor, like "If my kid can control the elements, how come he wets his bed?"

  • Lucas says:

    Indeed. I would like to point out that Harry Potter and friends, who are also saving the world are a mere 17. And folks flock to those films. And flocked to the books even when he was 11.
    Trailers rarely give the true image of the film, so how about we wait until the movie is out to get supercritical.

  • Brilliant Orange says:

    Quickly? The dorks have been in charge since Star Wars came out in 1977, and have since made billions of dollars for the film industry. Now get off of our lawn.

  • sosgemini says:

    Or brother/father/uncle.
    It's the new millennium folks. Suck it!

  • Seren says:

    What part of the name "Two-Minute Verdict" do you folks not get? If you'd been anywhere near Movieline before, you'd know that this feature is a quick judgment call on a trailer. It's intended and advertised as an OPINION on a current snapshot of the movie. I'm pretty sure it's okay to have an OPINION on the Internet -- or you all wouldn't be commenting either.
    And if you're going to have an opinion about a post, you might try to make it add value to the post. For example, yes, this film is based on the Nickelodean cartoon, but as film it needs to stand on its own feet. Based on this trailer, does it? Do you think it accurately represents the visuals and ideas of the source material? Personally, I think it represents a step back from the imagery of the original, and I think Mr. Rosen did a pretty good job of diagnosing what it's referencing instead -- a mash of other films.
    Oh, hell, it must be Monday. I'm trying to argue with Internet commenters.