Will ‘The Last Airbender’ Be the Next ‘Transformers 2’?

Published 5 years ago by , Updated July 2nd, 2010 at 4:25 pm,

last airbender transformers 2 Will The Last Airbender Be the Next Transformers 2?

Note: This is a speculative article, written BEFORE opening weekend box office numbers came in.

M. Night Shyamalan’s adaptation of The Last Airbender hits theaters this week and upon closer examination, I dare say that there’s a lot at stake in regards to how this film performs at the box office – and not just in regard to Shyamalan’s career as a filmmaker.

Early critical reaction is that The Last Airbender is THE big movie fiasco of 2010; however, if the film manages to connect with audiences this weekend, it would seem that we’ll have another Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen on our hands, and that would be a development that could steer Hollywood further down a path that many avid movie fans do not want to follow.

If you haven’t read our official Screen Rant review of The Last Airbender, let me sum up our official standpoint on the movie: it’s terrible. If you’re thinking to yourself “Well Screen Rant, that’s just your opinion,” then I hate to be the bearer of bad news by pointing out that the collective critical opinion (pretty much across the board) is that this film is terrible. Just pop on over to Rotten Tomatoes and have a look for yourself, or check out our review HERE to learn about everything that went so terribly wrong with this movie.

So, by all critical accounts The Last Airbender is a failure that just might be the final nail in the coffin that M. Night Shymalan’s career is waiting to be buried in. The film should also be a sign to Hollywood that cheap (or non-existent) storytelling, flashy effects, and ticket price-hiking gimmicks like post-production 3D conversion are not enough to fool the masses and mask a glaring failure in movie making.

Noah Ringer in The Last Airbender Will The Last Airbender Be the Next Transformers 2?

However, we’ve been here before, haven’t we? Just a year ago around this time Revenge of the Fallen was widely blasted by critics for being the reeking pile of cinematic failure that it was. The critics who tore it apart then kicked back, content that they had done their job exposing a lame duck, and waited for the public to send a message to Michael Bay and Hollywood: “We expect better!

And then a strange (and terrible) thing happened: Transformers 2 made crazy amounts of money.

Revenge of the Fallen cost about $200 million to make (thank the HD IMAX sequences), and in a sane universe would’ve never been able to recoup that budget. However, the final tally of the film’s receipts counted out to about $400 million domestic and another $400 million overseas, culminating in $800+ million total.

Not only did the returns shock every critic (or critical movie goer) who thought Revenge of the Fallen was crap, those figures actually spawned a new faction of movie fans who were animate in their belief that a blockbuster need not have a deep story, big brains, character development or anything else beyond flashy effects, big action, hot eye-candy and the most juvenile sort of humor – so long as it was “entertaining,” of course. 😉

transformers 2 the twins mudflap skids Will The Last Airbender Be the Next Transformers 2?

Two guys who loved Revenge of the Fallen

This new fan-faction was quick to make its opinions heard, telling critics they had fallen out of touch with “average” movie fans, and even going so far as to suggest that if a movie like The Dark Knight (which was critically acclaimed) made $1 billion and Transformers 2 could still make $800 million, that there was little difference between a “smart” and “brainless” blockbuster. That debate is still raging in comment sections on our site a full year later.

If The Last Airbender blows away the box office competition over the July 4th weekend and somehow manages to generate a sizeable profit for itself, not only will advocates of the “big brainless fun blockbuster” have a new stock of ammo for their guns, Hollywood execs will have all the justification they need to keep peddling crap movies as if they’re gold – complete with shoddy gimmicks like 3D conversion and inflated ticket prices.

And don’t expect Inception to reverse that perception; if Last Airbender does well and Inception does well, that’s just further evidence that there’s little difference between smart and dumb blockbusters, right? (At least that’s what “brainless blockbuster” types will say.) But if Last Airbender does well and Inception’s brainy ideas fail to lure a mass audience… well… I don’t even want to think about that scenario.  frownie Will The Last Airbender Be the Next Transformers 2?

Inception production still 16 Will The Last Airbender Be the Next Transformers 2?

If Airbender does well the stakes for Inception will be sky-high

To all you movie fans (of every kind) out there: You need to pay attention to what happens at the box office this weekend. You may think I’m being dramatic (and drama IS my middle name), but mark my words: we’re currently standing at a fork in the path, and where movies go from here will be (in part) determined by what happens with The Last Airbender.

I know Shyamalan is probably in a bunker sweating bullets right about now, and Paramount (the studio behind both The Last Airbender and Transformers 2) is hoping and praying that lightning strikes twice. Should be interesting come next Tuesday, when the holiday box office receipts get tallied.

What do you think – will The Last Airbender be the 2010 Transformers 2, or is there no way the movie will be able overcome its glaring faults to claim box office glory? And how do you think Last Airbender and Inception will affect the debate over smart vs. brainless blockbusters started by Revenge of the Fallen and The Dark Knight?  Let us know how you feel in the comments.

The Last Airbender is currently in theaters.

Inception will be in theaters on July 16th.

Turn on a cable premium channel and you can waste 2.5 hours watching Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen at your leisure.

Sources: Rotten Tomatoes, Box Office Mojo

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  1. Rofl so funny

    I hate review I can’t believe people pay attention to reviewers anymore they all suck and have no taste…. Now here’s my review.


    • Lol, i actually thought the same thing but didn’t want to annoy more people today lol.

  2. if you make it, they will see it

    it costs the movie studios the same amount to make a good movie as it would to make a bad movie. so why would they purposely make bad movies.

    if you make only good movies then thats what people will spend their money on, sure the audience may prefer the bad movie but if you give them no other choice then to see something good, then they will still spend all their money on it. do they think “Transformers 2″ would’ve made less money if it was well written or post-poned a year to improve?

    • Interesting that you call the previous poster an idiot… then reinforce their point.

      You said “Film cost is irrelevant regarding quality”…if that is the case then good and bad films DO cost the same amount, as was stated by the poster you mocked.

      Furthermore, you really shouldn’t call people names like idiot, and then have a limited grasp of language. The phrase “film cost is irrelevant regarding quality” is a string of vocabulary words that don’t belong together. Sure they get your point accross, but they do not fit together properly to say what you were trying to say.

      • Dreadpirate and nowwheredan,

        I’ve deleted the offending comment.


  3. Kofi, this article would have a lot more weight to if it wasn’t coming out the same week where a tween vampire flick took in $68 mil in one night. Just sayin… Airbender doesn’t stand a chance of seeing Transformers numbers.

  4. Bill the wildcat, u HAVE to see the cartoon…VERY good series!!! I am a grow adult and first started watching this show with my kids and now the whole family is constantly looking on our cable guide to see when the next episode comes on even if it’s a repeat!! I’m not concerned with what the critics say, all I know is that I live to cartoon and I’m glad that it has been recognized and thought of to be worthy of a movie. It is a GREAT story line and I’m very pleased to hear that there will be subsequent movies, as the cartoon is so detailed and, I thought, so interesting and funny. I am however upset that some of the important characters, as I’ve heard, in the cartoon have been cut from the movie. I guess because of time constraints.

    Well as I said I’m a big fan of the cartoon, and I suggest all that see the movie check the cartoon out, and because of that I’m so excited to see the movie and I’m going very optimistically despite what this horrible critic said about it. Critics need to lighten up. They think just because they are “well-known” they have the right to damage the image of a movie before it’s even out? Get a real job, noone wants to hear Ur negativity…

    • Its a movie review… either it’s going to be a positive review for a good film or a negative review for a bad film. As a person who hasn’t seen the film, how can you open your pie hole and spout nonsense.

      It’s a bad film. nuff said.

      I’ll give you a perfect example. have you ever been to a movie that everyone loved and at the end people start claping, some people are in tears and there is a general consenseus that in some way thier lives were touched by watching it… that is a good film…

      now on the other hand when the audience is booo-ing, walking out, protesting outside the theaters and demanding refunds… that is a bad film…

      it’s called a brain use it.

  5. *all I know is that I love the cartoon ( darn touch screen-auto correction phone) lol

  6. It should earn as much money as possible because I want a sequel but by someone else this time

  7. Oh please the last airbender theater was completely empty! None of the cartoon’s fans were there. It crashed and burned so badly. Even the average movie goers weren’t into it enough to go see it. I would’ve been worried if the midnight showings were packed like Revenge of the Fallen but they weren’t. I think the only way they’d make money is from hiking up the prices so much.

  8. Okay, here is the world as I see it. This movie may be a terrible movie critically, but the fun of most of these movies is the eye candy. When you do a book, comic, or a series of cartoons on TV you really have no excuse for shoddy writing and depth of character. The thing that sucks when it transfers to the big screen is that they have to condense all those great stories down to 2 hrs. God forbid you would go over 2 hrs. Granted you get some movies like the Dark Knight that will stand the test of time as one of the greatest story ever told. But then you have things like Transformers. Everybody keeps talking about giving depth of character to every person that walks on screen. Why? Does it really matter where the TWINS came from? I say, Who cares? Turn into a robot, hulk smash, then turn into a car and drive away. There are times that you have to spend time setting up your characters but sometimes they just go overboard. Take the Ang Lee Hulk, it took forever to set those people up. I would rather see them take sometime to set them up then Hulk Smash just like the last one. I loved how they showed the origin in the opening credits then it was Hulk Smash from there. Take Spider-man for instance. People want to see Rhyno, Vulture, Kraven, Mysterio, etc. To show just those characters they would spend 1hr and a half setting them up. Really they could sum them up in just a few min’s a piece. I don’t need to see the origin of Vulture in a 30 min set up. It is not all that interesting to begin with. Either way it is never going to be enough to please all fanboys. Somebody is going to find something wrong with it somewhere. With the Dark Knight, it was Batman’s voice, lord knows we heard about that for 6 months. To me, the movie drug towards the middle. As I have said before, If you don’t like it, don’t watch it. Some people will watch a movie just to tell you how bad it was. So far there is only a few movies that I am just totally against watching because they make me mad, and half the time I will watch them anyway. The Harry Potter Movies are like that.
    I am sure that Airbender is going to make a poopload of money this weekend. 1 reason and 1 reason only… Twilight. All the moms and sisters want to go see Twilight, the dad’s and little boys would rather eat shards of glass than to go listen to the estrogen factory swooning over Jacob Black. So they go see Airbender. In the end it is kind of brilliant. I had some high hopes for this movie. I don’t know squat about this cartoon but the trailer looked awesome. From what I have heard, I will probably like it. My real problem is that I don’t like Shama-lama-ding-dong. I am with just about everybody else, Sixth Sense was awesome, some of the others were okay, but the rest is crap. I guess I will just wait until DVD and go rent it.

  9. It made an estimated $16 its possibly on its way to a $60 million haul.
    That may not be Transformer numbers,
    But I dont think its career ending either .
    and hey, I want to see Twelve Strangers .
    It sounds Like the type of movie Shamalayan used to make.

    • Shyamalan is the worst project picker ever. His strengths are not in flashy movies, they lie in the slow portrayal of characters. Unfortunately, successful CGI factory films that rely on little other than fast pacing and eye candy are creating sets of expectations for producers.

      In the end, even a gifted director has to bow out to producers’ demands to spruce up this or that, or to cut this and that and to mount what’s left into this type of movie. Especially when good money was spent on acquiring rights to a certain IP. It is also much easier to make a movie the way you intend it when the slate is clean and all you have is your vision of a script, instead of having to juggle the producer’s vision, the idea of what will be massively appealing to the general public, and then how the diehard fans see the material.

      And then we circle back to the problem, the creative failure that has overtaken Hollywood. Say how much of upcoming blockbusters come from original material instead of comic books or other well established franchises? Not nearly as much as it should.

  10. I’ve been checking this website for about a year now on casting information and rumors. I really respect the integrity of the movie reviews and have actually steered away from watching some movies because of it. However, the last airbender previews were just too good to pass up so I went and saw it yesterday anyway. It seems that the review was a bit harsh and most of the people who commented were fans of the cartoon. Well as someone who has never watched one single episode of the cartoon series, I thoroughly enjoyed the movie! I didnt need to know the backstory of the cartoon characters to like what MNS was trying to do. Show action and I think he succeeded in that. On the east coast where I saw the movie it was packed and I think the common viewer will relate to this movie and there will be good numbers over the holiday weekend. Just my thought

    • MarvelLover,

      I usually do the reviews here on the site but decided to let Rob handle this one. I can tell you that while I might not have been quite as tough on it, I would have gone only maybe half a star higher with my rating (and I’ve never seen the cartoon series).

      I’m curious to see how this does at the box office.


      • I know there was a decent amount wrong with this film. I feel like the pacing was off and some of the actors didn’t do a great job, but I also felt like it has some great moments. The “quiet” moments were really well done as we all know Shaymalan is great at those. The soundtrack was wonderful (as always with James Newton Howard). And most the action scenes were amazing in their detail and execution. I feel like if they cut some of the fat (less scenes, more character) this movie could have been amazing. With all that said I did enjoy it. Does that make me a bad person because I liked a movie that wasn’t great. No. That’s what all art is about…reaching people that see the world the way you do. This movie was far better than Transformers 2, GI Joe, or The Prince of Persia by far in my opinion. Also I don’t know why people keep calling for Shaymalan to resign as a director when there are many directors out there that he far surpasses (Bruckheimer and his crew come to mind).

  11. I’m not done with him yet. This wasn’t an original project so in my opinion he’s not useless yet. Let’s see his next original film and if that’s terrible like The Happening was then the nail is put in the coffin

  12. I am pretty sure I posted this article’s comparison in a previous airbender article n the site, and look, I was right.

  13. found it, wrote it on the article with the high res images for the movie.

  14. i thought the airbender movie was way better than the tranformers 2 movie. the reason the transformers was a bad film was because of the holes in the film like devastator being the tank in the first film,then with no explanation devestator is a bunch of cunstuction robots? and too much action in the transformers 2 and not enough story,wich airbender did have,and airbender did not have a bunch of horny cheesy comedy. that is why movies like tranformers 2,x-men origins,x-men the last stand,and spidetrman 3 get such a bad rap, ohhh and spiderman 3 had way to many things going on and not developing the characters enough.

    • The tank in the first film was Brawl iirc

  15. and i dont understand why people listen to reviews so much instead of watching a film and making their opions themselve? well i for one would love to see a sequel,and i will be seeing predators next weekend,and inception the next, because i love a great story driven and thinking film.

    • Hear hear…I”m with you.

  16. I think it will be a ‘moderate’ success. I hope it makes back its production value, but not much more. I won’t be seeing it because I trust the critics- and the problem with “make your own opinion by going to see it” is that the industry measures success by $$- so even if I hate it, the machine will keep pumping out similar movies because I shelled out my $11 to see it in the first place.

    I will personally go see Inception every day until it beats out the box office of mindless drivel like this.

  17. Look there are all types of audience appeal. Audiences who like deep unique complex stories in film . And audiences who just want to be entertained and follow an easy story. Truly, one opinion is not better than the other.
    Audiences who like so called “smart movies” go to the movies hoping to be entertained by unique experiences and stories that makes one awe and think. Anything less than that, they come out of the film feeling unsatisfied.
    Audiences who rather see a film a little less(sometimes alot less) complex in story telling don’t want to spend an hour and half to two hours trying to figure things out about the plot, it causes confusion. We all can agree confusion sucks and they come out of the film unsatisfied. Here they spent an hour and some change watching a movie they didn’t understand. It is like having a conversation with somebody who speaks a different language and not understanding what they are talking about you come out of the conversation with nothing.
    Most of us( I would think) here on screenrant really like movies, almost passionate about films. We know and see things differently about films that others do not. Things like plots,sub-plots, pacing, great dialouge, character development, staging, film presence,etc,etc. But there is a many who do not and they should not be knocked for that.
    I know the importance of a car and I love a relaxing ride but I am not that passionate about them but there are some who see the art and design behind car, the tecnology,blah,blah.
    Every movie is not for everybody. Now we appreciate those gems like The Dark Knight that come out every so often, which hits every angle and does it well but every body deserves to see what keeps them entertained with out being overly critizied. Movies should be made to please all audiences, not just one type of audience.

  18. Well Chris some people are not rich and rather than pay to see every film ever made they read reviews to see if it’s worth their money or if they should buy a meal instead.

  19. i agree d-man. but when i watched prestige i was f@#$ing confused but i loved it, and loved thinking about the little details and watched it again right after the first time, and loved it even more. so sometimes people do love being confused a little with a very smart movie, if its made right. and all im tring to say is you cant always go on what someone else says about a film you need to decide for yourself or you miss out sometimes. and avatar was not a horrible film nor a perfect masterpiece. i dont know im not a fan of the series per sey i have only watched a hand full of episodes, so maybe all the hate is from long time fans and i understand that hollywood does make dumb changes to thing and need to stay close to the source material. so maybe they needed to keep some thing that the series had to make it better. anyways i would love to see a m night unbreakable sequel.

    • I know man, The Prestige threw more for a loop, and honestly I still feel like I do not completely understand it. I love movies like that. Hell the Akira anime left me puzzled for years when I was youmger, and Matrix to this day and I mean the whole trilogy still leaves me questioning a little. I love it. But you do have those few who do not like that.For example my sweetheart, fiancee. We have gotten into arguments about it, but I understand(partially) where she is coming from with it. But believe me homie, I am with you if a movie makes me come back for more, it is a challenge, and I love challenges.

  20. I think your argument is really off-base.

    Shymalan has nothing whatsoever to do with the current trend towards big blockbuster action films without substance. In fact, every time he has tried to give the public more imaginative material, the public and the critics have ridiculed him–and whined ad nauseum about how his more recent film are not on a par with Sixth Sense.
    Airbenders IS–undoubtedly–predicable stuff that will do well at the boxoffice. And he is playing it safe–but I don’t condemn him for it. He NEEDS a hit in order to stay in the Hollywood game. Why single him out for criticism when you know perfectly well that the vampire-werewolf Twilight machine will rake in millions.

  21. I mean Transformers 2 was terrible, but Shyamalan is is really, really bad director. At least Michael Bay could produce even a spot of meaningful dialogue, and he knows how to make an entertaining movie. This just looks like reeking garbage and people, however easily fooled by special effects and advertising are not THAT stupid. It has to at least have some context or understandable plot. It’s almost like Shyamalan’s brain crapped out half meaningful thoughts and tried to connect them with special effects and 3d post processing. Also, special effects don’t mean much if you’re confused the entire time. A few seconds of entertainment isn’t worth two hours of confusion for most people.

  22. Based on box office so far and the general slant of comments about the film, it’s looking like this time the viewing audience agrees with reviewers.


  23. I am a big fan of the series, and have been anticipating this movie for almost 2 years now. I was at the midnight showing, i shaved my head, painted a blue aarow on it and sat down waiting to be awed.


    The movie was so bad. No way that it will see TF2 numbers. I hope there is a squeal but M. Night Shamalamadingdong should say far away from it.

  24. *arrow

  25. Why does the money a movie makes linked to it being a good film? U pay before u see it, therefore even of it’s bad they still have your money, I saw the Last air bender and agree there was no character developement and the whole thing was like bad cliff notes of the story and nothing but actions sences with characters doing stuff and u just really don’t care because u don’t even feel like u know them. Good marketing and a good story idea sells a movie, once the person buys the ticket it’s too late for them to turn back. Hoping Hollywood can figure out how to develope characters again. Cause even more than action that makes a good movie.

  26. I just don’t think they are mutually exclusive… there are enough stupid people as well as critical ones to justify having both types of movies produced i guess… now let’s see which one win at the box office, if they are as good in their category as they are made to be.

  27. Right, I can tell people don’t want this to happen. What I can’t see is, anybody doing something about it. What if everybody who doesn’t want this to happen rallied together and tweeted this article link for example. Maybe try sending it to somebody who can actually influence some action on a mass scale? Or are we just going to see here and write comments on the article which won’t help and we leave us in the situation no true fan of good movies wants to wake up to on the morning the box office results come in?

  28. ( SPOILERS BEWARE )!!!!!alright you have a waterbender who has to learn how to bend water correctly, and her brother who find a run away boy who is actually the avatar who can bend all the elements when he trains in their martial arts forms found in ice who has been their for a very long time. then you have the fire nation who have killed the all the air bender except aang, and have the earth benders and water benders under their control, and aang is trying to learn all the forms of bending while being hunted by two diferent fire bending enemies the fire lords son, and one of the fire lords generals. he learns to use water,and he already know airbending, and he has to meditate to find out how to stop the fire nation. at the end the main fire lord villain sends his daughter to capture the avatar, to be continued. sounds pretty close to the series except that some of the characters races where changed for the film and aang is called ung.so now aang has to go and learn earth bending in the sequel, and then in the final third film he will learn fire bending and bring down the fire nation useing all the elements.

  29. I think that Air Bender has a good chance of doing well in the box office. When I read fan reviews and critics alike, they all referred back to the cartoon. But, the majority of movie goers in the world haven`t seen the cartoon. So, if you are film maker going for a larger audience, then fan service isn`t and shouldnt be a priority. I remember when I watched Spiderman and how I felt disgusted when it came to the creative licensing. But then, after a couple of years when I watched it again, I realized that it wasn`t so bad.

    Anyway, the point is that servicing a relatively small fanbase is a waste of resources if you have 300 million to play with.

    Another important point is that movie critics shouldn`t be so confused or perplexed when they see a crappy blockbuster movie succeed. Firstly, critics aren`t business people. Hollywood has so much experience in calculating Return on Investments (ROI) and knowing the template for money generation. If you want to sell to the masses, then it needs to have entertainment value (ie. explosions, SFX, etc). The fact that Hollywood has invested 300million to a film means that they already know the film will give at least double in return (think…theatre, DVD, merchandise, etc).

    Also, the increase in complexity of a plot will discourage movie goers (most movie goers are just trying to have a good time with their friends and family. Nothing more).

    Now, if you want a movie to succeed internationally, you will certainly have to make a dumbed-down (or at least easy to follow) , SFX heavy film. Why? Because not all people speak english and the cultural differences between Hollywood and the rest of the world may cause even more confusion to movie goers. Sure, you may be saying that we have subtitles for a reason. But try translating sophisticated jokes or dialogues that require translating cultural norms. It ain`t happening. That`s why Hollywood will make a lot of 300million movies with heavy SFX rather than a lot of 30million comedies, and still make money. Comedies have a hard time breaking into international markets.

    Dark Knight is not an exception to the above rules. It had all the sophisticated plot….but it still had all the cool special effects, and eeriness to make movie goers enthusiastic. The Dark Knight`s plot worked on many levels, so it appealed to fans and casual consumers alike.

    In the end, it doesn`t really matter if the plot is great or not. If Hollywood finds a film maker who can create a great plot (that is still easy to follow) and cool explosions at the same time, then jack pot (ie. Nolan, Cameron, Spielberg, Lucas). If just the explosions, then still jack pot (Bay, Bruckheimer). If no explosions, then a film maker might end up stuck in the indie genre.