If you harbored hopes, no matter how unrealistic, no matter how unfounded, that M. Night Shyamalan, for the first time working from a source other than an original screenplay, would make a quality film, then your hopes were unfortunately misplaced. His latest, possibly last film, The Last Airbender fails without reservation or qualification in every conceivable category: story, characters, dialogue, and performances. Only the visual effects (thanks Industrial Light & Magic) save The Last Airbender from being completely unwatchable, but even there, the post-production 3D conversion makes The Last Airbender look dim, very much like M. Night Shyamalan's career prospects after this debacle.

The overwhelming commercial and critical success of The Sixth Sense (1999), a supernatural thriller and Shyamalan's third film, gave him the freedom to write and direct without studio interference. Although I wasn't a big fan of The Sixth Sense and its derivative, Twilight Zone-inspired twist ending (i.e., the central character has been a ghost all along), I could (and did) appreciate why it resonated with so many moviegoers. It wasn't the twist per se or even Malcolm Crowe's (Bruce Willis) personal journey toward self-realization and self-awareness, but instead, the possibility, no matter how unlikely or improbably, of contact with those who've passed on, of closure to key relationships in our lives.
categories Cinematical