To tide us over until the first theatrical trailer for The Last Airbender gets released on February 12th (it was delayed from last Christmas) we have some info on the movie straight from director M. Night Shyamalan. The last we heard was that Shyamalan was, “pulling his hair out in the editing room,” although producer Frank Marshall said that all was well in post-production.

In an update, Hero Complex got a chance to talk to Shyamalan about The Last Airbender. They discussed such things as what got the director interested in the project, this being the first time he’s directed something based on existing source material and Shyamalan compared the movie to another two successful franchises.

Shyamalan spoke about how he got interested in the original anime cartoon series, Avatar: The Last Airbender (obviously the film is not going to use “Avatar” in the title because of a certain other recent successful film). Surprisingly, or unsurprisingly (depending on how you look at it), it was his seven-year-old daughter that got him hooked onto the Nickelodeon series:

“She made us watch as a family and all four of us were hooked… 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 Last Airbender marks not only the first time Shyamalan has directed something based off of existing source material, but also his first truly large-scale production. After the success of his debut feature The Sixth Sense eleven years ago (has it really been that long?), he was flooded with offers to direct entries in major franchises, such as the first Harry Potter. Evidently he turned all of them down. With the failures of recent offerings like The Happening and Lady In The Water, perhaps the director is looking for another avenue to show off the filmmaking skills his first few films demonstrated he has.

So why is Shyamalan taking on an adaptation this time? Well, it was the Eastern philosophies (particularly the Buddhist philosophy) fused with martial arts aspect of The Last Airbender that got him interested:

“Aang [the main character] himself needs to find balance to be the Avatar and to master each of these elements… We get to see the process of someone mastering themselves through the three seasons to get to peace.”

Finally, Shyamalan talked about how he sees similar elements (get it?) in two other successful properties, The Matrix and Star Wars:

“In the first ‘Matrix,’ you realize that what you’re seeing is all false… 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.“

Despite not knowing a great deal about the original cartoon series, I still find myself highly-anticipating Shyamalan’s adaptation of it (it made Screen Rant‘s 2010 most anticipated list). My attention was particularly snagged when the first teaser trailer appeared online, squashing many of the doubts I had that Shyamalan couldn’t manage such a big special effects and action-driven film. We’ll have to wait until this summer to find out if he redeems himself from the disappointments of his last two offerings.

What do you think about Shyamalan’s take on The Last Airbender? Are you a fan of the cartoon and if so (or even if you’re not) are you looking forward to the big-screen live-action version?

The Last Airbender stars Noah Ringer, Dev Patel, Jackson Rathbone and Cliff Curtis. It hits theaters on July 2nd, 2010.

Source: LA Times Hero Complex