Recently, Jordan Hoffman at UGO took part in a roundtable interview with director M. Night Shyamalan to discuss his new film, The Last Airbender. For those who still aren't in the know, The Last Airbender is based on the award-winning Nickeloden animated series, Avatar: The Last Airbender.
The movie, like the animated series, revolves around the character Aang (Noah Ringer), who, as the new Avatar, is capable of controlling all four elements. Aang must learn to wield his power to stop the Fire Nation from taking over the Water, Air, and Earth Nations.
I have copied some of the most interesting tidbits from the roundtable below, but to see all of Shyamalan's thoughts, you'll have to head over to UGO. There is also supposed to be a video of the interview going up later in the week, so keep an eye out for that as well.
- The Last Airbender is very much the first in a planned trilogy. Night compares it to Lord of the Rings in that it is all one story not, "more adventures" with your favorite characters. The three films will mirror the three seasons of the series, with some tweaks.
- Night plans to direct all three, but before the second one he wants to bang out a smaller-budgeted thriller.
- The thriller is *not* Unbreakable 2, though he still hopes one day to get to that. And he knows Bruce Willis feels the same way.
- Night hopes the CG in The Last Airbender will be unique in that there isn't as much quick-cutting as in commonly seen in CG-heavy films. Go back and look at his other films and you will see a lot of long takes. This means the CG is going to have to be really top notch, because it can't be hidden away with cutting.
- The last person in the Shyamalan house to fall in love with Avatar: The Last Airbender was M. Night himself. In what can only be called an origin story, you'll hear how Night came to this project through the lobbying of his parents, wife and, most importantly, children.
I'm happy to see Shyamalan back on his A-game for The Last Airbender, especially since his last movie, 2008's The Happening, was almost universally panned by critics. From some of his comments, it is obvious that he is passionate about the material (no doubt due to the fact that his wife and kids loved the animated series) and that he has taken great pains to preserve the integrity of the original show.
Perhaps the best detail Shyamalan addressed was his plans to turn The Last Airbender into a trilogy with an overarching story based roughly on the three seasons of the animated series. While the box office is what will ultimately determine whether or not Shyamalan gets to return to the series, I believe that focusing on a bigger story is a great way to ensure that the film transcends what could be a simple kiddy action flick into something with much more depth.
Back in December, we named The Last Airbender one of Screen Rant's 20 most anticipated movies of 2010. Since then, almost everything that has come out about the movie has helped us reaffirm our decision, particularly the most recent theatrical trailer. While I'm not overly familiar with the original series, I believe Shyamalan's comments make the prospect of seeing The Last Airbender even more exciting for both hardcore fans and newbies alike.
What do you think of Shyamalan's comments? Do they make you want to see The Last Airbender even more?