The Last Airbender - how did it suck this bad?

StaffOnlyStaffOnly Website User Posts: 78 Just Starting Out
I know there have been threads about this before, but I finally nutted up and saw the film. It was utterly terrible. I'm not even talking as a fan of the TV show. The film was horrid from a filmmaking point of view. Every line was exposition and clunky as hell. The line readings by every actor was bizarre like Shyamalan dosen't know how humans talk. The editing was awful (both within scenes and scene-transitions). The pacing didn't exist. The visual effects were mostly terrible. The action scenes were horribly shot. And the lighting was terrible in many scenes and the whole films just looked cheap.
I expected all this. I wasn't going to make a thread about it. Then I saw the credits.

Kathleen Kennedy was executive producer! Known as one of the best producers in Hollywood. Spielberg and Lucas swear she is nothing short of amazing. I was thrilled when she was given Star Wars. I guess her involvement vs the result can be explained that Shyamalan had full creative control on this one. Then it got worse.

Pablo Helman was VFX Supervisor for lead VFX house ILM. So why did everything look terrible? ILM mastered water in Pirates 3 (then again in Battleship after this film), fire in Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince and Avatar (Cameron's) and all the CGI environments and blue-screen should be a no-brainer for them. Helman worked on Attack of the Clones as VFX Supervisor among other projects before this film. I can only assume both the director and the cinematographer were completely incompetent. So who was the cinematographer?
No! Andrew Lesine? What? I'm still in disbelief. This is the oscar winning cinematographer of Peter Jackson known for the Lord of the Rings films, King Kong and more recently Rise of the Planet of the Apes and The Hobbit. All super demanding projects. This guy is good!

I'm just an outsider. I'm posting this here for all the people who know more about what goes on behind the camera than I do. How does something so utterly crap on a technical filmmaking 101-level as The Last Airbender happen with a $150-million budget and all these amazing crew members? I swear the film plays like an overambitious high school production with a large budget. Some scenes aren't even lit. From the LotR cinematographer! How did Shyamalan pull that off?
Sorry for the rambling, informal post, but this was strange.


  • MichaelJamesMichaelJames Website User Posts: 2,038 Enthusiast
    A good producer can put elements together... but they are typically the business side.  Spielberg and Lucas swear by her because she knows how to interact with them and you pretty much do not tell them no.  The best producers for them are proactive and accommodating. 
    They tried to mimic certain elements of the show and took things to how they saw they should be.  It was not realistic... it was hokey and cheesy like they tried to make a cartoon with live action elements instead of making things look realistic. 
    These days a lot of movies have $150 million dollar budgets and suck..   King Kong... Rise of PotA and The hobbit are not classics which people will be citing later for their impressive work.
    Sometimes you make movies for the money and check out on the quality... See eddie murphy for details.
  • AculagAculag Website User Posts: 708 Just Starting Out
    I didn't see it, but the answer to the question in the thread title is this:  Shyamalan is a grade A hack.  He was so promising after The Sixth Sense and Unbreakable (legitimately great films), and Signs was more than decent until the end where the entire concept falls apart.  Everything else he's done has been complete garbage.
  • MichaelJamesMichaelJames Website User Posts: 2,038 Enthusiast
    He is not a hack... its just not every movie can be a twist.  If that's all people expect from you... then they are going to be sitting in the theaters looking for twists and not getting caught up in the experience.   When you feed into the hype you try to top yourself and when you try to top yourself you trip yourself up.  After many less successful films and failures he has tried to do studio films to try to regain his image.    The Last Airbender is what happens when you have the studio more in charge of your film... you don't really try.  Yea lets combine seasons worth of material down to one film...  Hes not a hack... you just go into all of his films expecting one thing.  A spark of brilliance is just that a spark.  Lady in the Water was billed by early trailers to be one movie... and it turned out to be something else(watch the later and more accurate trailers)
  • AculagAculag Website User Posts: 708 Just Starting Out
    He is not a hack... its just not every movie can be a twist.  If that's all people expect from you... then they are going to be sitting in the theaters looking for twists and not getting caught up in the experience.

    He's done more movies with twists than movies without them.  The first couple of times it worked well because in addition to having clever twists, they also had good stories, and were generally well written.  The twists aren't what makes those films great, though.  His work has gone downhill progressively after Signs, and it has nothing at all to do with audience expectations.  I'm sure you're right and a lot of people expect him to have a twist every time, but that has nothing to do with the quality of the films, and it isn't exactly inappropriate for people to expect a twist when six of his eight films have them.
    His films are consistently  rated worse and worse, with only a slight improvement with After Earth.  This isn't because reviewers were looking for a twist and failed to notice anything else, it's because the films are terrible. Lady in the Water had such an interesting concept behind it, but the script was so mind-numbingly awful that it was miserable and embarrassing to watch, and you can say that about the majority of his work.  He hasn't made a decent film in over a decade.  I don't think having a few really good movies excludes one from being a hack if the majority of his work is dull, uninspired mediocrity.  You're absolutely right that him trying to top himself is what makes his post-Signs work fail (at least in part,) but unfortunately, by now, I don't believe he has what it takes to make anything good again.
    And again, because I can't emphasize this enough:  the twists in his early work are absolutely not what makes them good films.  The nuance of the storytelling, character portrayals, score, visual design, and direction are.  People were blown away by The Sixth Sense because it was an extremely well made thriller that happened to have a great twist, not the other way around.  The Village was when people really started expecting a twist from him, so the story was secondary to the twist.  And from there on, a good story stopped mattering to him and so everything else he's done has been mindless, uninspired nonsense.

  • StaffOnlyStaffOnly Website User Posts: 78 Just Starting Out
    I understand. I suppose a director like Shyamalan will have so much control that even with the impressive crew the movie can still turn out terrible in almost every way.
    His career is a bit of a fascinating, sad story. Trying to simply top himself might explain a lot of his failures, but in a film like The Last Airbender he doesn’t even seem like he was tripped up by a few bad ideas and miscalculations. It just seems like the creators didn't know how to make films at all. There have been tons of big budget films that underperformed critically and commercially.

    The Lone Ranger, Tron Legacy, John Carter, but even so all these films have a sense of genuine filmmaking. I saw The Lone Ranger and found it was pretty well made, but suffered from a few terrible ideas mainly surrounding Johnny Depp's character, and that it lacked the amount of fun you would expect from such a film.

    And there's films like Oz The Great and Powerful and Jack the Giant Slayer. Those movies big flaw is that they are forgettable, but when you watch them they still have decent pacing, decent direction, decent acting and decent vfx. Like you would expect from a big budget production.
    I just couldn't believe what I was seeing with The Last Airbender. It would have made more sense if it was a sort of avant garde joke/experiment like Rodriguez's Spy Kids/Sharkboy and Lava Girl, but apparently this was what Syamalan calls an honest to god effort to adapt the show to film. I almost can't believe this guy once knew how to make films.

    I should see Unbreakable. 
  • AndrewAndrew Website User Posts: 379 Enthusiast
    edited August 2013
    Shyamalan isn't a hack, and he isn't the weak link in The Last Airbender.
    It's a terrible movie, for sure, but one that is wholly-artful, with great production design, a fantastic score, excellent world-building, and beautiful cinematography that all click together, directorially. This was much of the same case with the criminally-underrated The Village.
    At a glance, The Last Airbender is and has all the makings to be something grand and special. 
    Wherein lies the problem, as has been the case for all of Shyamalan's latest films, is that he has neither a studio nor a producer able or willing to share the work with him. He shouldn't be the writer of all his own material. He shouldn't be the producer. He shouldn't pull double-duty, without any oversight. Because he, like many and most, needs it to make sure his projects aren't overwrought or self-serious to the point of camp. And on The Sixth Sense, Unbreakable, and Signs (which I disagree with Aculag, and find to be his strongest movie overall), Shyamalan was limited in these ways, in the ways an auteur often is, with studio encroachment and producing oversight.
    With it, his true genius really does shine through. And that's what it is, whether his fall from grace is laughable or not. The man, at a time, was a filmmaking genius. And can't be written off as a one-trick hack. A joke, for sure. But he's no hack.
    Because, and perhaps this is the hardest thing about watching how terrible his work has become- there are moments. Moments that are so pure and genuine and beautiful, they couldn't be simple chance. They're the workings of an artful and deeply talented director with too much going on and too much power to adequately hone and delegate a vision. That's the tragedy. No one to wrangle him in from his own worst enemy: Himself.
    The Happening? Terrible film. Last Airbender? Awful movie. Lady in The Water? Largely laughable.
    And yet I can find astounding moments, set pieces, visual sequences, production design, and- most of all- incredible acting in all of them that are the mark of a great director.
    The Happening has a scene where Zooey Deschanel and Mark Wahlberg hear the wind coming, the antagonist of the movie, and can't do anything but look at eachother for a hopeless moment, one in a garage and the other in a house, through windows, separated from eachother by 20 feet of outdoors. It's heartbreaking, beautifully-shot, and masterfully done. You feel their hopelessness. The disconnect.
    The Last Airbender is atrocious largely because of the casting and super-silly tone, but the ending sequence, in which Aang raises a gigantic wave out of the ocean, is tremendous. The set piece is huge, the music is grandoise emotive, and the editing feels important and epic.
    The Lady in The Water. Well, lots wrong with it. Even more great with it, though. Like all of the acting in it. And this:

    I don't know what he does. Or how he does it. But Shyamalan consistently gets great performances out of his actors. William Hurt and Paul Giamatti, two of my favorite actors, have their career-best performances in Shyamalan movies. Maybe that sounds preposterous. And his movies have become poo-poo, for sure. But there's some greatness rattling around in there somewhere. I know it.

  • StaffOnlyStaffOnly Website User Posts: 78 Just Starting Out
    edited August 2013
    At glance The Last Airbender might look interesting, but I don't really agree with it being special and artistic. It has some passable art design (most of it taken straight from the show anyway), but it also has a lot of terrible art design. Aang's tattoos don't look good on screen and the Christian cross he has on his back is unforgivable. Appa could have looked better. Princess Yue's hair and make-up is terrible. They do a ten times better job on Daenerys in Game of Thrones and they are on a TV-schedule. I'm not even talking about the penis hairdo, just the fact that you can see her dark roots and dark eyebrows. The CGI water is terrible throughout the film. The fire as well. The fight scenes are laughably bad, shot in one long take like a high school drama production. (Made worse by the fact that the fight scenes in the show are amazing, very creative in a choreography sense, and would have beaten out other sci-fi fantasy fight scenes from films like Star Wars, The Matrix and Harry Potter easily if adapted properly.) And there are scenes that aren't lit.

    Not to mention that the lighting, design and color grade on the spirit world scenes looks worse than what than some child toying around in After Effects.
    I've never quite understood your definition of true artistry, Andrew, but I understand film in a purely craftsmanship way. Take any J.J. Abrams movie. Every line spoken “correctly”. Every comedybeat, dramabeat and moment in the film made in a “correct” filmmaking 101-way. It doesn’t break any conventions like Lars Von Trier or Stanley Kubrick, but it's all correct, polished to a tee and shows just how good Abrams is at directing films from acting and editing to cinematography and special effects.
    And when you look at The Last Airbender it fails in the most basic ways. Not because Shyamalan is breaking conventions (though I'm sure he thinks so himself), but because he sucks (his good films notwithstanding).
    I made the thread because I wondered how a big budget film could have such terrible acting, editing, vfx with such an impressive crew. I read you didn't like the VFX or cinematography in The Avengers Andrew and maybe you attribute it to Whedon's lack of experience. However Whedon squeezed more production value out of a 40 millon dollar budget on Serenity than any other director I've seen, and directed perhaps to most thrilling space battle ever filmed (putting the prequels to shame), and I think everything you didn't like in The Avengers was very much deliberate. I think The Last Airbender stands alone in how incompetent the whole project seems for having so many experience crew members and I just wondered how they pulled that off. Was no-one awake during the production? 
  • MichaelJamesMichaelJames Website User Posts: 2,038 Enthusiast
    Certain things are hard to imitate in live action. 
  • AculagAculag Website User Posts: 708 Just Starting Out
    I definitely can't argue with most of what you said there, Andrew.  There's no denying that he can manage a certain atmosphere in his films that a lot of people can't do.  Perhaps calling him a hack is a bit hyperbolic, and I definitely agree that it's a shame that he isn't living up to his potential.  After seeing Signs, he was in my top five favorite directors, and I keep hoping he'll nail something again.  And don't get me wrong, I love Signs.  The ending just makes no sense and ruins the sci-fi aspect of the film.  Obviously it isn't about the aliens at all, but it could have had a much more logical ending.  Absolutely beautiful and extremely tense film otherwise.
    I guess I should see The Last Airbender so I can properly weigh in on the actual subject here.
  • StaffOnlyStaffOnly Website User Posts: 78 Just Starting Out
    Please do Aculag. I would be interested to hear it. 
  • AndrewAndrew Website User Posts: 379 Enthusiast
    edited August 2013
    It should also be noted and remembered that The Last Airbender is produced by Nickelodeon and, as much as one may argue the cartoon series transcends it, created as a children's film.
    I'm not saying it's perfect. No, it's largely a terrible movie. And poorly cast for sure. But the production design, the costuming, the style and type and placement of CGI, the locations, the music, the cinematography, the editing- it's all incredibly artful. Inspired. Unique, for a kid's film especially.
    You think The Last Airbender fails in the most basic ways? I enormously disagree. The CG is well-integrated, the cinematography is slick and unique, the music is beautiful, the editing has a natural flow and sense of storytelling to it, the color grading is- absolutely truthfully- some of the best I've seen in blockbusters of the past several years- and the scenes move at a decent pace.
    Where The Last Airbender fails is in connecting all these pieces that, on their own, work- in a cohesive and non-laughable manner. And that is, to my assertion, because there isn't an adequate producer there to do it. But it's a beautiful-looking fantasy kid's movie. I've never understood how people could say otherwise. I was shocked to see it so lowly-rated when it initially came out (and again, I do think it's a pretty bad movie)- but shocked simply because I thought, at least visually, it looked interesting. Cool. Epic.
    You mention The Avengers. Yes, I disliked that movie. But I disliked it, largely, because what you call deliberate- I simply call uninspired and generic. The technical quality, the 16:9 TV aspect ratio, the bland colors, the nameless alien hordes of villains, the quippy pattern of dialogue, the overabundance and underthinking of CG. Not that it should be a comparison, because it shouldn't even enter the equation- but those are things, for as awful as it is, The Last Airbender is not.
    It's distinct and unique. And, even at a glance, has really rock-solid filmmaking behind it.
    I mean, I can really pull any of the fight sequences which, as silly as tai chi-style hand motions for fighting look on-camera, are pretty cool and well pulled-off- and immediately call to a movie that has something to offer.

  • StaffOnlyStaffOnly Website User Posts: 78 Just Starting Out
    edited August 2013
    Yeah, I agree with you about The Avengers. Those things are certainly weak points though they didn't ruin the film for me. 
    However though The Last Airbender has some good art design (to me the bar is set way low for that sort of movie if you look at The Hunger Games, Twilight and even sometimes Harry Potter or whichever kids-tier film), but I certainly didn't find it as great as you did. It doesn't hold a candle to the gold standard fantasy film LotR or sci-fi like Prometheus in that regard. Even as a big fan of the show and its vibrant, creative world I don't think it ever could. 
    The VFX were at times pretty terrible for a film of this size and it bears the typical marks of a director who didn't listen to the VFX Supervisor. Especially in the terrible action scenes. You linked the one action scene that some people liked in the film, but I felt it still missed so much of the shows fight scenes potential, so perhaps I am biased there. 
    It did have some cool cinematography, but also some really strange cinematography. I saw this honest trailer the other day and they also remarked on scenes that don't seem to be lit properly:
    It's weird because to me the film that is always my go to example of a film that was lit, shot and color graded to perfection is The Fellowship of the Ring (I personally also love the Miranda/Kosinski-collaborations in Tron: Legacy and Oblivion in that regard). So I was really shocked that this film has the same DP as LotR. 
    I also found the editing strange more than once. Early in the film Sokka walks behind Appa. Appa's tail hits him in the head and Sokka says "It's trying to eat me." then struggles for two seconds before the scene cuts to an establishing shot of some other scene. It doesn't flow well. Also the structure of the film is strange with awkward voice-over and exposition though this was probably a problem before editing. 
    I'm not saying adapting the show is easy, but it's not impossible to do well. "Fans" saying "it should have been like this!" should always be taken with a grain of salt so as a fan of the show I realize I might not have much credibility, but here's one of way of adapting season 1 into a film:

    The core of the show is the parallel story of Aang and Zuko searching for redemption and trying to bring balance to their lives and the world. They are both the main characters of the show and have the longest and most important story arcs. So that is what needs to be "right" above all else.
    The movie opens on Aang playing with his friends at the air temple. He is taken aside and told he's the avatar and that there is a war coming and he needs to start training immediately. Aang's whole world comes crashing down and his friends sort of abandon him after finding out. Aang flies away on Appa and gets caught in a storm. They are forced under water where Aang enters the avatar-state and freezes them both.
    Cut to the fire nation capital (in the crater of a dormant volcano as it should be) and a title says "100 years later". Zuko is entering a war meeting. After hearing a general's plan to sacrifice a bunch of recruits he speaks out and is forced to fight his father for speaking out of turn. For refusing to fight his father (whose face we don't see until the third film) his father burns him, dishonored him and banishes him to search for the avatar. We see him sailing off into a storm (to parallel Aang) before we cut to the title screen. 
    We open on Aang and Katara. In this scene we should have two minutes to introduce their relationship before they find Aang. 
    At this point the rest is cake. I have cut the need for almost all the voice-overs, text and awkward exposition. We already know the backstory of Aang and Zuko which is almost all that matters. The rest of the film will include Zuko attacking the southern water tribe, Aang and co going to the southern air temple to introduce to the audience the war, that he is the last airbender, and the avatar state. "The middle of the film action scene" will take place in the earth kingdom with the Kyoshi Warriors on the way to the North Pole. Then the rest of the film will be the North Pole. All those times capturing Aang and The Blue Spirit is completely unnecessary.
    When Zuko finally captures Aang in the North Pole if I have done everything right the viewer is rooting for both Aang and Zuko to succeed like they do at that point in the show.  
    The movie could still of course turn out terrible, but if I can make that up by thinking about it for 5 minutes, I can't understand why a real screenwriter couldn't do much better. Then again I think Shyamalan himself wrote this screenplay and he obviously did not understand much of the show (as we see from Aang's giant christian cross on his back and sudden Jesus-role though he is clearly a Buddhist monk in the show). 

  • NullUnitNullUnit Website User Posts: 791 Just Starting Out
    I couldn't even make it past the first 60 minutes of Airbender. For me it was un-watchable and I never turn off movies half way through. I think MNS is good at creating the illusion of gravitas that is ultimately empty. Lots of moody interesting looking scenes that add up to nothing. The story telling and dialogue were unbearable in Airbender. The acting was wooden in the exact same way that the acting was wooden in the Star Wars prequels. Which tells me that its probably coming more from the director than the actors.
    I can't even come close to putting Avengers in the same category. I could watch Avengers over and over and not get bored. To me, it doesn't matter how good/bad the effects are. Airbender may have had "better" effects, but that doesn't change the fact that the movie was garbage and failed. And if the Avengers effects were "bad' then that had no effect on it success, since it was a great movie. 
  • AndrewAndrew Website User Posts: 379 Enthusiast
    edited August 2013
    Again, though they shouldn't be compared- I wasn't saying the CGI in The Avengers was bad. But it certainly isn't astounding, and there's a huge overabundance of it utilized. That being said, I suppose what you see me mentioning is the 'effect' of the movie overall. And the effect of the movie overall didn't work for me. To label it, matter-of-fact, as 'great' is a reach.
    I, for instance, consider The Avengers to be pretty much garbage. I know I'm in the minority there, but hey. That's how the dice roll. I was hugely letdown by it, even with middle-of-the-road expectations, and find it largely cringe-worthy and visually uninteresting and lacking basic polish most blockbusters have (and all need).
    Then again, I also think The Last Airbender is garbage. I'm merely standing up for it, as is evident in The Doctor's impassioned last response, because I had little to no tie to the source material the way others do- who care about that aspect far more than I do- and am looking at it from a filmmaking perspective.
    My opinions are generally informed by my taste and own style as a filmmaker. Now that I'm not 14, and filmmaking is in fact what I make my living off of, working in the the industry, I think it's fair to say and consider I have a 'style' that I brand myself under. Which, as anyone who knows my work, is pretty much a dead mix between artful, filmmaking-basics storytelling, sometimes to a pretentious degree, and the shameless showiness of completely mainstream, stereotypical, vacuous, visually-stimulating entertainment.
    So on those fronts, I appreciate people who take the time to make something look and feel big and fun and epic (like a Michael Bay) in a way no other could, the same way I appreciate people who take the time to make something resonate emotionally with mood and atmosphere and tour-de-force performances (like an M. Night Shyamalan) in a way no other could. Both men I mention there are definitely polarizing individuals with spotty-at-best track records, and they're far from my favorite filmmakers. But I can stand up for their efforts, I feel, because there's great merit to many of them. Intent, talent, passion, time, and art behind their processes and results that I can clearly see. Merit that just, well, just doesn't exist in stuff like The Avengers for me. (Or any Marvel Studios property now, really, unfortunately.) They feel lifeless, soulless, and guided by an inept idiot who doesn't even have being a studio head down (Kevin Feige, for anyone interested), and not a filmmaker.
    At least, and at best, when a filmmaker like M. Night drops the ball on The Last Airbender, it's his muddled vision, artistic or otherwise, that's to blame. And not a Kevin Feige.
    Call that what you will, but that's how I feel. And that's why I write stuff. It's not because I loved The Last Airbender. Because, again to be clear, I really didn't at all. It was awful.
  • StaffOnlyStaffOnly Website User Posts: 78 Just Starting Out
    edited August 2013
    They feel lifeless, soulless, and guided by an inept idiot who doesn't even have being a studio head down (Kevin Feige, for anyone interested), and not a filmmaker.

    I agree that none of the Marvel films are great, but some of them to me are really good like Captain America and Iron Man 3. But I have always felt that Kevin Feige was an amazing producer because before these Avengers-films superhero-moveis were completely hit and miss. And suddenly they adapted a ton of completely different superhero films and all the films worked. I always saw it as that the films were held back by being Avengers-films. You can tell the films to some extent were biding their time for the "real showdown" in The Avengers and never is this more apparent than in the completely mediocre Iron Man 2. I think that's why Captain America and Iron Man 3 are the best ones because they are the furthest away from the events of The Avengers and were allowed to feel big and important on their own terms to some extent.

    Still the superhero genre turns out to be in flux and mistakes can be made like with the recent Man of Steel which polarized audiences, and I really disliked. I had sky high expectations and the film was beautiful and featured some of the best effects, action scenes and production design we have seen in a superhero-movie, but it had exactly zero character development for Clark/Superman whatsoever. And as you watch the film it is not hard to understand how the film turned out like this. They were trying to get away from classic Superman and they were trying to leave Superman Returns behind. But to me it really didn't work. Which is sad because they were so close. If only they had done something different in the first 40 minutes (like cut most of Clark's random jobs, the oil rig and the space ship and replaced it with character development). They could have just ripped off Batman Begins even. That film is the ultimate standard for a superhero origin story. How did Goyer and Nolan miss that? Snyder obviously did a great job with the direction either way

    Which is why I feel Feige did a good job of picking crews and giving notes on The Avengers-films because somehow all of those films worked. (Though some of them were admittedly right on the border of mediocrity like Iron Man 2 and The Incredible Hulk).

  • MichaelJamesMichaelJames Website User Posts: 2,038 Enthusiast
     Looking at that Last Airbender clip you showed the CG looked bad.  Not necessarily the water bending but the whole location in the background.  The city looked CG and looked like it needed a better lesson in lighting a 3d model to look realistic.  The compositing of Ang jumping over the guy does not look terrible just stands out as not good.  The cinematography to me(qualifying it as a personal opinion) is not really artful because  the does not look to be anything special. A tracked dolly wide shot and full body shot where they keep a wide depth of field to show off the war and the landscape is great visually when you want to do a war movie where you are not following one specific individual.  To me watching the movie I got the scene of it was a person who doesn't understand fighting in movies controlling the visuals.  When you see something where someone understands how to have kung fu(fighting in general) in a movie you get a sense of this is "this is great" at some point in the fighting.  Its not just all slow mo that makes a great fight scene.

    An example of a bad movie that had an epic fight scene that is a must see is FlashPoint
    I feel like they forget that while it was a children's cartoon it did have a significant adult audience. So I do not think we should say its really artful for a kids film.
    The Avengers is the definition of Pop film culture and that's typically what will earn it the "uninspired and generic" comments.  Not every movie can or should come up with a unique style of anything or everything.  The individual marvel movies catered to their individual hero and then to make it all work they had to deemphasize everything.  So the colors were toned down. The bad guy was nameless to avoid detracting from the first time successfully having so many big name characters in one movie.  They avoided doing what every comic book movie has done was take the classic main villain or villains and just reuse them to death.
    @The Doctor
    I prefer the way that Marvel has been connecting all these different heroes together and the Captain America movie was solely designed to get him to The Avengers and prep for Captain America 2 the Winter Soldier.  Iron man 2's problem was that it was riding off the coat tails of the previous film, doing avengers prep work and have the big pop in terms of the story.  The faceoff with the main badguy was short and unsatisfying.  It was more satisfying to see the Hulk vs thor showdown.  The party scene was lame and dragged the movie down.
  • Triem23Triem23 Moderator Moderator, Website User, Ambassador, Imerge Beta Tester, HitFilm Beta Tester Posts: 18,254 Ambassador
    As a friend of mine summed up the Captain America film: "The heartwarming story of an earnest, patriotic young man and his transition to being an earnest, patriotic young man on steroids." It was fine, it was fun, it was nothing special. Actually, I feel that way about pretty much all of the Marvel films. I was entertained enough while watching them (except Iron Man 3,which was pretty dumb--there is certainly absolutely no reason for Tony Stark to ever suit up again as the shrapnel was removed, he can remotely control the **** suit, and JARVIS can remote all the suits.), but they all leave me dissatisfied, ultimately, as there's all this unfocused story time used to set up some other movie. Heck, Iron Man 2 is this nice little revenge story between Tony and Ivan that's dragged down by all the Avengers setup that's totally superfluous. I've not seen Last Airbender, but, as I didn't actually like any other M. Night Shamalamadingdong movie, I figured I would give it a pass.
  • MichaelJamesMichaelJames Website User Posts: 2,038 Enthusiast
    Iron Man 3 completely wasted the Mandarin character... and took away a great aspect of the extremis story from Iron Man. 
    The manless suit idea was explored in the comics.  When it became clear it wasn't efficient and working it was scrapped.  Im sure this will factor in to the Ultron story since Pym will not be in Avengers 2. 
  • SimonKJonesSimonKJones Moderator Website User, HitFilm Beta Tester Posts: 4,450 Enthusiast
    edited August 2013
    Yeah, Stark not needing to wear the suit anymore was surely the point of the ending of that film? It's not like they put all those story threads in action by accident. They'll come into play down the line, or would've provided a nice end point for the character if Downey Jr hadn't returned.
    I don't really understand the description of Feige as an inept idiot, either. He's basically pulled off a franchise miracle by making a bunch of mostly-unknown comic book characters become increasingly big box office draws, building on a multi-year plan which resulted in a team-up movie that brings together multiple micro-franchises into one of the top 3 biggest movies of all time.
    I mean, what on Earth is your definition of 'successful producer'? Sure, the movies might not be classics, but they're doing exactly what they set out to do, and that seems to be borne out by audience satisfaction. But in terms of the role of producer - make a project happen in a cost effective way - he's one of the most non-inept producers in the history of filmmaking.
    I'm not really talking about the quality of the movies - I love them myself, and know that you have a lot of issues with 'em - but in terms of a producer/investment/return of investment perspective, they're massively successful.
  • Triem23Triem23 Moderator Moderator, Website User, Ambassador, Imerge Beta Tester, HitFilm Beta Tester Posts: 18,254 Ambassador
    Ah, I seem to be not keeping up on the rumor mill. Avengers 2 is Ultron? Silly me, I was thinking Thanos!

    And, as Ant-Man is planned for after Avengers 2,I guess Tony will be making Ultron by building a suit and giving it autonomy?

    Actually, I have to agree with Simon's comments on Feige. In the studio system a producer's job isn't to create art, it's to try to keep a film on budget, on schedule and to try to develop a property that will make a profit. The Marvel movies turned around a company that was in bankruptcy with a hundred-mil of debt and made it attractive enough for Disney to buy for billions.

    Feige did his job--to the point where Disney/Marvel will spend a truly obscene amount of cash to hire six actors and a writer-producer! (The $120 mil being spent on principles and Whedon's salaries could make one entire blockbuster film or a full season of Game of Thrones.)
  • SimonKJonesSimonKJones Moderator Website User, HitFilm Beta Tester Posts: 4,450 Enthusiast
    edited August 2013
    Another thing I will credit Feige with is his long-term thinking - something which is in very short demand in Hollywood, and especially in the superhero genre pre-Avengers and pre-Dark Knight. It was all about quick buck, but Feige played the long game to build up the franchise. It's the kind of long-term ballsiness you don't see very often - in fact, the only other example I can really think of is the way the Harry Potter franchise was handled.
  • StaffOnlyStaffOnly Website User Posts: 78 Just Starting Out
    Agree with your comment there Simon K Jones. Using long term thinking to build up a property is something that really hasn't been used enough in film and especially video-games. Loads of companies need big profits now and they are willing to do stupid stuff like The Lone Ranger to get it. Feige and co didn't rush anything. They kept the whole thing under careful control, but made sure the directors felt cared for and not smothered. Whedon said even though he was working under strict rules of stuff he couldn't do (i.e. kill off Captain America or some such) the rules were reasonable and consistent and he felt more free than ever on The Avengers because they didn't pull any “let's market this film as a comedy instead”/”yeah, we're going to cut the film down to 2 hours and you lost final cut” that sometimes happens to unfortunate directors.

    And it's even worse in video-games. You have a property like Knights of the Old Republic which is guaranteed to make money if the budget is reasonable. What does EA do? According to sources spend upwards of 300 million dollars trying to use the property to out compete World of Warcraft which is stupid. They could have made a little money over time by making KotOR 3, 4 and 5 but no. We need a ton of cash this quarterly dammit and we will bleed every property dry if we have to! Same thing with Dragon Age. Origins was great and everyone loved that. But they want to get in on the Skyrim crowd too so now Dragon Age 3 is going to be open world. Brilliant!

    And let's not forget Johnny Depp's face-paint and hat in The Lone Ranger. A stupid gimmick that was supposed to get in on that nice Pirates of the Caribbean/Alice in Wonderland-market, but big surprise that didn't work because apparently it wasn't the hat and the paint people liked about Alice and Pirates.

    Feige seems to be one of the few guys in a room full of insane cynics saying: “Maybe if I just made a bunch of movies people like people would watch them.” and for that I say he's a cut above. 
  • MichaelJamesMichaelJames Website User Posts: 2,038 Enthusiast
    edited August 2013
    Stark has had several points in the comic where he had the stuff taken from his chest, and they found different reasons to put a new reactor in his chest.
    Feige did something no one did.
    A successful producer brings people together who can work together... do you know how many projects die at some point before being completed? Well I am sure you do Simon but others maybe not so much.
    Its not a rumor... its what Whedon announced.
    Create art?  haha that's 1 interpretation of filmmaking.
    @The Doctor
    Johnny Depp in face paint is to not make it another depp fest.  Indians did use paint and they explain why he put the paint on after his family was murdered. 
    The lone range just becomes bad at the end.  It was completely passable till then.  More violent then pirates and so less of a family film.  The bad guy ate hearts(completely unnecessary).
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