M. Night Shyamalan

Oct. 12, 2010 | 1:17 p.m.

NY ComicCon: ‘Walking Dead,’ ‘The Thing’ and M. Night Shyamalan’s pain

"The Walking Dead" (AMC)
Michael Giltz was our man on the ground this past weekend at New York ComicCon and here’s his round-up report. New York ComicCon continues to grow by leaps and bounds and that was apparent this past weekend — especially Saturday — when you couldn’t find enough personal space at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center to safely swing a lightsaber. On Friday, the venue on the far west side of midtown Manhattan was relatively navigable,  but the next day saw a massive line for badge pick-up and a crush of humanity (and possibly some extraterrestrials) that made it difficult to get your geek on. There remains one crucial difference between New York and the more famous San Diego expo with the similar name — the movie and TV talent level hasn’t reached critical mass yet at the East Coast edition;  the emphasis remains on comics.  That […]
Aug. 04, 2010 | 6:00 p.m.

Bruce Willis on ‘Unbreakable,’ vodka and the enduring appeal of ‘Jaws’

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Los Angeles Times blogs editor Tony Pierce sat down with Bruce Willis last week at the Roosevelt Hotel to discuss “The Expendables,” the 10th anniversary of “Unbreakable” and the actor’s new vodka brand. Willis also compared the thrill of having a star on Hollywood Boulevard to being a lyric in a Beastie Boys song. “Pulp Fiction.” “The Sixth Sense.” “Die Hard.” “Twelve Monkeys.” “Sin City.” Bruce Willis has put together a fascinating and unpredictable film career since he caught America’s eye on the 1980s television hit “Moonlighting.” The latest chapter: “The Expendables,” which reunites him with old Planet Hollywood pals Sly Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger. Willis says he appeared in “Expendables” for free but that’s not the case when it comes to the booze venture. The interview above was set up by the team promoting that new vodka, Sobieski, named for the 17th century Polish king Jan Sobieski III, whose military […]
May 22, 2010 | 3:47 p.m.

Hollywood whitewash? ‘Airbender’ and ‘Prince of Persia’ anger fans with ethnic casting

This is a longer version of Chris Lee’s cover story in this Sunday’s Los Angeles Times Calendar section.   Since its release, the video game franchise Prince of Persia has become notable for the acrobatic grace of its dagger-wielding, balloon pants-wearing hero as well as for what the games didn’t do: affront gamers of Middle Eastern and Muslim descent with stereotypical depictions of people from the region  as terrorists or religious zealots. Independent filmmaker and blogger Jehanzeb Dar, to name one such player, remembers his favorable first reaction to the swashbuckling action game, which is set amid the sands and ancient cities of Persia (as ancient Iran is known) and follows a hero with a magic sword caught between forces of good and evil. “You could see clearly the protagonist had distinct Middle Eastern features and darker skin,” said Dar, 26, […]
May 21, 2010 | 2:09 p.m.

Will ‘Last Airbender’ resurrect the M. Night Shyamalan mystique?

Here’s an exclusive, eye-catching image from M. Night Shyamalan’s “The Last Airbender,” which arrives in theaters July 3. That’s actor Shaun Toub (“Crash”) in the role of Uncle Iroh, the wise elder who was once the crown prince of the Fire Nation. “Airbender” is an intriguing release — writer-director Shyamalan goes into new territory this time by adapting an existing property (the film is based on the Nickelodeon series) as opposed to his usual path of creating a story from scratch. More than that, the subject matter and tone seem far removed from his past works such as “Signs,” the underrated “Unbreakable“ and the darkly sublime “The Sixth Sense.” There’s a sense that Shyamalan has something to prove — some say he has lost his way as a filmmaker or that he is still in the shadow of his 1999 breakthrough, “The Sixth […]
March 31, 2010 | 2:34 p.m.

M. Night Shyamalan says ‘Airbender’ rises above race issues: ‘That’s what’s so beautiful about anime’

M. Night Shyamalan has a massive plan in mind for “The Last Airbender” — a patient film trilogy that presents a fantasy epic and also grows progressively darker as its young characters (and actors) mature in front of moviegoers. That brings to mind both “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy and the “Harry Potter” franchise, and, as you might imagine, that has stirred excitement among executives at Paramount Pictures who would love to have a magical franchise that pulls in billions of dollars at the box office. But because the stakes are so high, there has also been considerable behind-the-scenes hand-wringing because of a nasty fan backlash on a touchy subject — race and casting. Check the venting and venom we heard in more than 100 comments that followed an “Airbender” post in January. Here’s how one reader summed it up: “I am one of the many who is seriously […]
Feb. 09, 2010 | 8:17 p.m.

Do you remember the Super (Bowl) trailer for ‘Airbender?’

So, according to a poll on MovieTickets.com, which admittedly only talked to about 550 people, the most memorable trailer during Sunday’s Super Bowl was “Alice in Wonderland” — remembered by 81% of the people who watched. That was followed by “Robin Hood” at 67% and “Shutter Island” at 63%. The first trailer shown, “The Last Airbender,” was memorable mostly because, while I watched it, I forgot about the casting hate that’s been heaped on director M. Night Shyamalan. For those of us who like fun, action-filled romps (like “Ninja Assassin”) that might not have the most cerebral story lines or “tight” filmmaking, this looks great. Who knows about the acting or story lines yet for “Airbender,” but for sheer eye candy, it (to me) rivaled the rest. Here’s the half-minute spot that ran. – Jevon Phillips M. Night has a sense about “The […]
Jan. 28, 2010 | 1:19 a.m.

M. Night Shyamalan had a sense about ‘Airbender': ‘This would make a killer movie’

Rachel Abramowitz memorably wrote about M. Night Shyamalan in 2008 when he revealed quite a lot about the liberating power of, well, failure. Now she spoke with him again for this Hero Complex update on the filmmaker’s upcoming film “The Last Airbender.” And now for that other “Avatar” movie… For M. Night Shyamalan, it was his then 7-year old daughter who hooked him on the Nickelodeon series “Avatar: The Last Airbender.” “She made us watch as a family and all four of us were hooked, “ Shyamalan said. “I was like, ‘This would make a killer movie.  And my wife who really has been kind of in neutral about my career was insane about it. Insane about it: ‘You have to do it. This is it. This is the one.’ ” Ever since he shot to stardom with his film “The Sixth Sense” in 1999, […]
May 25, 2009 | 4:09 p.m.

Life after ‘Harry Potter': What will Hollywood do when the magic is gone?

The “Harry Potter” juggernaut is starting to wind down. As the franchise moves closer to its finish line, Hollywood executives are scrambling to find the Next Big Thing — a multiple movie property that appeals to youngsters, has an epic sweep and fantastic landscapes that suit modern CGI filmmaking. It also needs to lend itself to those all-important licensing deals. Rachel Abramowitz, who writes about the film industry for the Los Angeles Times (and authored the book “Is That a Gun in Your Pocket: The Truth About Female Power in Hollywood“), has some intriguing insights into the quest to replace the boy wizard of the box office. It was a seminar that top executives at Sony and Paramount couldn’t afford to miss. Forty-six of them — including Sony Pictures Chairman Michael Lynton, co-Chairman Amy Pascal, Paramount Film Group President John Lesher and marketing teams from around the globe — crowded around a […]
Sept. 21, 2008 | 2:56 p.m.

M. Night Shyamalan might take another whack at ‘Unbreakable’

Filmmaker M. Night Shyamalan, sounding a bit like a lost hiker with a balky compass, says that in hindsight he really should have taken a different career turn after “Unbreakable,” his dour, underrated deconstruction of the superhero motif. Here’s what he told MTV about a shoulda-been sequel to the 2000 film: “I tell you I get asked about it all the time, so it’s not [an idea] I ever forget,” Shyamalan told MTV News. “I genuinely just asked this question the other day — should I make ‘Unbreakable 2’? “I made the mistake of getting caught up in the hype of the immediate reaction of the movie, which, experience has shown me, is not accurate to any of my movies,” he explained. “And If I had been more confident and said ‘I believe in that movie, I love that movie, […]
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