Thursday, May 21, 2009

First pictures from M. Night Shyamalan's The Last Airbender

I've never seen the critically acclaimed Nickelodeon show, Avatar: The Last Airbender, that this film is based on, but it's only three seasons long, so I really ought to get around to it over the next year. The USA Today article is mainly a puff piece, but the Slashfilm article has a nice film-to cartoon character comparison. The latter article states that the teaser will be debuting with fellow Paramount tent pole spectacle Transformers 2: Revenge of the Fallen.

Come what may, this is certainly a shot across the bow to everyone who complains that M. Night Shyamalan never changes his template. I'm not sure I agree with that (truth be told, his only two pure thrillers were Signs and The Happening), but it certainly may do him some good to direct someone else's material for a change. I still say he should try a musical. It would be slow, ponderous, filled with empathic characters, and most of the singing would happen offscreen. Anyway, The Last Airbender opens July 2nd, 2010.

Scott Mendelson

1 comment:

Jen said...

I would recommend taking a look at the source for this film. It's a very smart series set in a pan-Asian world, much like Lord of the Rings is an European one.

That being said, changes being made to the film are disturbing. The non white Inuit based heroes have been cast as white actors and the villain Zuko, who comes from a Chinese based kingdom, has been recast as a dark skinned character.

Since your reviews are always well informed, I would highly recommend checking out which shows in full the disturbing changes being made as well as the responses from high profile Asian American actors groups such as the East West Players and the Media Action Network for Asian Americans.

In essence, they have made it a white=good, color=bad. The villains, instead of being the light skinned people based off a mix of China and Japan, are now made up of Indians, Middle Easterners and Pacific Islanders. The heroes, who were based off of Native people like the dark skinned Inuit and also Tibetan/Chinese people have all been recast as white.

The reason the show was so successful was because it had non white heroes that everyone could relate to and to show minority and mixed race children that they could be heroes as well. It's the reason the cartoon has won many animation awards as well as a Peabody.

But apparently either the director or the producers didn't want dark skinned people as heroes. So it is now a story where the noble, good white people have been under a campaign of military terror by dark skinned villains.


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