M. Night Shyamalan has had a lot to say recently. First, he had to contend with the myriad of complaints about race and casting. While the masses were calling The Last Airbender racially questionable, the filmmaker was touting it as the "most culturally diverse movie series of all time." But now there's upset of an entirely different level to contend with -- not pre-viewing complaints, but rather the overwhelming sentiment that the movie just plain stinks.

Where his breakout film, The Sixth Sense, earned him a solid 85% fresh rating from the critics corralled over at Rotten Tomatoes, his latest has earned only 9% fresh. This isn't 9% out of a handful of reviews, which could leave minimal hope for the future. Instead, this is less than 10% out of almost one hundred reviews. To put that in context, that's 7% less than another much maligned movie of the summer, Sex and the City 2, making it one of the worst reviewed films of 2010 (Furry Vengeance still has everyone beat).

What does he think about all of this? Hit the jump to find out.
New York's Vulture had a phone interview with the director yesterday, and after asking about his opinions on 3D and trilogies, they swam into review territory. When asked if he was aware of, or has read, the reviews for his new film, Shyamalan said he hadn't. So, Vulture explains that the film's critical reception has been pretty darned bad. M. asks: "Are you saying that in general they didn't dig it?"

The magazine actually quoted Roger Ebert to Shyamalan, who wrote in his review that "The Last Airbender is an agonizing experience in every category that I can think of and others still waiting to be invented." Shyamalan's response:
I don't know what to say to that stuff. I bring as much integrity to the table as humanly possible. It must be a language thing, in terms of a particular accent, a storytelling accent. I can only see it this certain way and I don't know how to think in another language. I think these are exactly the visions that are in my head, so I don't know how to adjust it without being me. It would be like asking a painter to change to a completely different style. I don't know.
I'm thinking this is the time where Shyamalan has got to figure out how to make his "storytelling accent" work for the moviegoing public, and it would be great if while he did that, he didn't liken his fall to cultural differences. After a few modest films, this filmmaker set the world on fire with The Sixth Sense, and aside from a nice zip upwards with Signs, has had one hell of a quick trajectory down the ranks as each film slips lower. His initial success shows that when executed well, his "storytelling accent" works wonderfully with audiences.

Image courtesy of Rotten Tomatoes.
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And what about the faith the studios have had in him? Very few filmmakers, most especially if they're in any sort of minority, would get the chances Shyamalan has received. Roughly, The Village (which I actually enjoyed) dropped him 30% in critical favor and made just over half the money, The Lady in the Water dropped another 20%, lost more than half the last box office receipts, and barely made its money back, and without too much room left to fall, The Happening dropped another 6%, but won its money back and a decent return with $163 million.

Yet here we are with The Last Airbender -- he got the big money and big action, but it's a big failure, if the first meager night of release is any indication. If Shyamalan gets another big-budget feature, he's got the luck and support I imagine no filmmaker has ever had, but after this latest bump in the road, methinks he'll have to retreat to the world of cheaper indies and reform his fame.