Some truly terrible movies are made based solely on a director’s perceived popularity and box-office appeal. Apparently, certain names can become so leprous and off-putting that a studio will actually suppress the contribution of a particular filmmaker in hopes of distancing themselves from a commercial-killing stink. This is the current situation with Cop Out, where the name of Kevin Smith has been completely excised from the advertising campaign.
With yesterday’s release of the latest The Last Airbender teaser, it seems like M. Night Shyamalan might benefit from a similar treatment. Since The Sixth Sense and initial success, Shyamalan has slowly squandered his goodwill and a devoted fanbase with a hagiographic biography of his time in Hollywood and the ponderous, if unfairly maligned, Lady in the Water.
This teaser — which will run during Sunday’s Super Bowl — looks visually entrancing if dramatically pompous. The convoluted plot is willfully obscured in favor of shock and awe. However, initial response seems to have been focused primarily on reactions to the trumpeting of its name-above-the-title off-camera star. Can he overcome an audience’s associations and deliver the bombastic, unadulterated war-action-violence flick the trailer indicates?