Clash of the Stinkers

Going by the curious and sometimes perverse numerical critical rating system of Rotten Tomatoes, M. Night Shyamalan‘s The Last Airbender is the lowest-ranked major release of the year so far. Hoi polloi critics have given it an average of 5% and the elite have given a 7% rating for an average of 6%.

A film’s ratings can be mixed/so-so (60% to 75%), mixed shit (40% to 60%), shit (20% to 40%) and steaming piles (under 20%). At least 11 other major releases this year have been generally condemned as time-wasters, but Airbender, so far, is the King of Shit Mountain.

Robert Luketic‘s Killers actually has the same negative average as Airbender — a 12% Average Joe negative mixed with an elite zero rating. But after re-reading the reviews for this Lionsgate release alongside this morning’s Airbender notices, it seems as if the emotional/aesthetic energy directed at Airbender is more impassioned, in part because it has a tragic element in that it sounds the latest gong in the damaged career of the once-admired M. Night Shyamalan.

Jonah Hex is the third worst-rated, if you will, with a 9% average — 12% general, 7% creme de la creme.

Battling it out for fourth and fifth positions are Marmaduke and Grown-Ups. The former has a 10.5% average — 10% general, 11% elite — while Dennis Dugan‘s “comedy” has the same rating with a 10% general and an 11% elite. Sex and the City 2 is currently in sixth place with 12.5 average — a 16 general and 9% elite. Taylor Hackford‘s just-opened Love Ranch is seventh with a 17% general and a 15% creme de la creme for a 16 average.

Occupying the eighth- and ninth-place slots are Clash of the Titans and Prince of Persia, which are tied with 31% each. Clash has a general rating of 30 vs. an elite score of 32. Persia has a 37 general and 25 pick-of-the-pack.

Joe Carnahan‘s A-Team stunk in my book, but its average score of 4849% general, 47% creme — makes it seem almost regal in this particular company. James Mangold‘s Knight and Day is the eleventh worst big-time release of 2010 with a 53% general and a 51% elite for a 52 average. And the twelfth-rated among the major-league disappointments is Eclipse with a 58 average — a 52% hoi polloi and a 64% elite.

  • Rich S.

    When Ain’t It Cool calls your long-awaited genre flick “a hate crime against those who love movies,” you know you’ve really accomplished something. Bravo, M!

  • Dalloway

    This is disappointing. Night has talent. I just think his ego gets in the way, adn he surrounds himself with people who are too afraid to constructively critcize his work.

    Nina Jacobsen passed on Lady in the Water and insisted that he abandon the project saying that it just didn’t live up to the standard of his earlier work. He balked, and that ended his relationship with Disney.

    HOWEVER, I received a very poorly scanned copy of his new script that has been making the rounds (the one with Willis attached) and I think it’s his best script since The Sixth Sense. So don’t count him out just yet.

  • Jeffrey Wells

    Hey, Dalloway…please contact so we can talk and you can hopefully send this Willis-attached script to my inbox. Thanks.

  • dggunz

    My guess is that the impassioned negative response to “The Last Airbender” is due to M. Night having been nominated for an Oscar for “The Sixth Sense” and starting his career on such a high note.

    It’s hard not to be let down, and therefore, a bit resentful about his follow up work.

  • Don Murphy

    Why would you want to talk to Daloway, a poseur if there ever was one? He’s captain nevergonnabe!

  • actionman

    what an astonishing fall from grace for M. Night.

  • Circumvrent

    My guess is that the impassioned negative response to “The Last Airbender” is due to M. Night having been nominated for an Oscar for “The Sixth Sense” and starting his career on such a high note.

    Except “The Sixth Sense” was M. Night’s third feature.

    Awesome that the Willis-script is out there in the ether.

  • moveable hype

    M Night always seemed to me to be the wrong director for the material.

    Also, judging by the reviews of this one and having seen The Happening, has M Night totally lost the ability to direct actors? Man, the performances in The Happening were the worst I ever seen in a major motion picture… And from what I read, they are not much better in The Last Airbender. It’s a shame, I used to look forward to his movies. Hope he can turn it around. Or is this going to send him to movie jail for a while?

  • Dalloway

    Jeff, I’d gladly send you the script. It’s pretty impressive, and definitely a return to form.

    I have a PDF. What’s your email address?

  • Circumvrent

    Dalloway, his e-mail address is ;)

  • Dalloway

    Moveable, I agree. Completely. The Happening has the worst performances of many actors. Wahlberg is atrocious in that. As is Zooey and Leguziamo.

    If that was Wahlbergs first film it would have been his last.

    Most definitely.

    Murphy, learn how to spell. Dalloway is widely known literally character.

    But then again, why would anyone expect you to know anything about Virginia Woolf? None of her characters ever turned into a robot seeking an “All Spark.”

    Seriously, Don, read a book once in awhile. And by book Iean one with more words than pictures. It might do you some good.

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Donald Murphy, King of the Philistines, Lord of the Eloi.

    You know it’s true. As does all of Hollywood and the rest of the world.

  • Jeffrey Wells

    Dalloway — click on “Contact” and send me your e-mail and phone #.

  • jesse

    This might be nitpicking, but Jeff, you use way too wide a range for “mixed/so-so.” Really, a movie with a Tomatometer score of 80% is getting “mixed” reviews? Given that getting above 96% or so is damn near impossible, that’s a pretty narrow margin where you have to fit in everything from “good” to “excellent.” By that metric, about 20 movies a year can be said to get “good reviews.”

    On top of which, many of the most interesting movies tend to get Tomatometer scores in the 60-75 range. A movie with 90% is more likely something with lots of three-star reviews that no one can really watch and say “absolutely not.” If you go by English-language fiction films in 2010 that have been released in the U.S., the tops are:

    1. Toy Story 3

    2. How to Train Your Dragon

    3. Winter’s Bone

    4. Fish Tank

    5. Please Give

    6. The Square

    7. Red Riding Trilogy

    8. Ghost Writer

    9. City Island

    10. Mother and Child

    Not a terrible list (in fact, I loved Toy Story 3, and Fish Tank for that matter) but you have some more interesting movies like Greenberg or Get Him to the Greek or Shutter Island bubbling under, understandably being less immediately likable than something inoffensive and moderately well-crafted (yet not very good) like Mother and Child.

    In any case, I’d say once a movie surpassese the 70% mark, it’s well out of the “it got mixed reviews” territory. No one says a movie that gets 30% got “mixed reviews” just because it literally needed a mixture of positive and negative to get that number.

  • Krillian

    Since M. Night asked us to ignore everything before Sixth Sense, I will.

    Has there ever been a director who consistently has been able to deliver seven movies in a row where each one is worse than the one before it?

  • Dalloway

    Okay, Jeff. Will do. I’ll send it when I get home.

    Krillian, I think your statement is accurate but with one slight exception. I think Unbreakable is better than The Sixth Sense.

  • Dorothy Digital

    Unfortunately, “bender” in the UK is a slang word for gay, so reports are coming in of untold hilarity at screenings to lines such as “I always knew you’d be a bender”, etc. Could cult status be beckoning?

  • Dalloway

    It wasy understanding that Night only made one film prior to The Sixth Sense. Praying with Anger, which he shot in India.

    I know he wrote that Rosie O’Donnell movie about the kid questioning god or something, but I don’t think he directed it.

  • jesse

    I believe he did direct Wide Awake, but wasn’t happy with the result.

    I would agree that Unbreakable is, in many ways, better than Sixth Sense; people just think Sixth Sense is better because it has a better ending; understandable reaction, but on the whole I prefer Unbreakable, though they’re both pretty great. As is Signs! The rap against Signs is dumb. That movie is beautifully directed and incredibly suspenseful for something where very little happens.

    The first half of The Village is awesome, too. But the slide since then… yikes. That is something to behold. Though I haven’t seen Airbender, if it’s as bad as people are saying, it seems even more off the rails because it looks like an easy stylish paycheck gig for M. Night, and yet it sounds like he couldn’t pull it off. So yeah, even allowing for liking Signs and aspects of The Village, three disappointing-or-worse movies in a row is pretty gash for a guy whose career is only (in effect) a little over a decade old.

  • Hollis Mulwray

    Speaking of “one-hit-wonders” ,was there really any promise to the directing career of Andrew Davis? Made a terrific genre picture with Chuck Norris, “Code of Silence” then wowed everyone with “The Fugitive”. Pic was a best picture nominee w/o Davis getting a directing nod. There are many examples of careers that are much more “miss” than “hit”.

  • George Prager

    I eagerly await Armond White’s rave comparing it to Fritz Lang and Tarkovsky.

  • reverent and free

    Even Lady in the Water had striking visuals and strong performances. The Happening was the only one that was altogether bad.

  • crazynine

    Wow. Guess this is really going to be a flameout.

    I never watched the cartoon, but I must admit that the trailer was pretty impressive. It looked as if ILM did some nice work with this, at least in a two-minute bite’s worth.

    But those RT percentages are AWFUL… yeesh.

    BTW, I love Sixth Sense, love Signs, REALLY love Unbreakable… and that’s it. The other films are so absolutely underwhelming as to make me question how they’re made by the same person, or even on the same planet.

    Is it too early yet to wonder whether M. Night ever did anything good at all? You know, like those crackpots who argue that Bacon or somebody wrote all of Shakespeare’s plays? Seriously– what happened? Did he suffer a breakup? Lose an editor? Make too much money?

  • DukeSavoy

    Loved Unbreakable, thought Sixth Sense bounced to above average. A character struggling with accepting his own death — good concept, but prefer the slippery Grand Guignol of Jacob’s Ladder.

  • gogocrank10

    I have a hunch that Night’s epitaph will be that horrible making-of “Lady in the Water” book that coincided with a) his leaving Disney, b) making his most personal yet ego-stroking indulgence and c) making it terrible. That it followed the oft risible “Village” and preceded “The Happening” can’t have helped. Also factor in his horrible momentum killing cameo as (for all purposes) God in said misfire, and it all makes sense. Just ego/arrogance run amuck. Anyone else remember when he used to boast that he had a secret formula for success?

  • Eloi Wrath

    “Unfortunately, “bender” in the UK is a slang word for gay, so reports are coming in of untold hilarity at screenings to lines such as “I always knew you’d be a bender”, etc. Could cult status be beckoning?”

    This is very true. I knew a kid called Chris Bender at school. Mercilessly bullied. Genuine belly laughs when his name was called during assemblies or morning register. Kids find that word hilarious at that age.

  • Eloi Wrath

    To put it another way, it might as well be called The Last Airfaggot.

  • mroswald

    Too bad about “The Last Airbender”. The previews I’ve seen so far piqued my interest, but those percentages are pretty brutal, so it looks like the wallet’s staying closed untl “Inception” rolls out.

    And as much as I hate to be that guy, I have to put this question out there regarding “The Sixth Sense”. So the payoff is that Bruce Willis has been dead the whole time. And one scene that M. Night created to throw us off the scent was the one where Haley Joel Osment’s character comes home to find Bruce Willis and his mother waiting for him. I know that it was supposed to be implied that they were making small talk the whole time, thus making us think there is no way Bruno can be a ghost But he is indeed dead, SO HOW WAS HE ABLE TO TALK TO THE MOTHER? If I’m not mistaken, it was only the kid who could communicate with the dead.

    I know it’s an old-ish movie, but it’s something that’s always bugged me.

  • Dalloway

    He never spoke to her. She is sitting opposite him, waiting for Cole to return from school.

    Yes, it was implied, but they never uttered a word to one another

  • Circumvrent

    We never see them talking. On first view, somebody sees that scene and it reads as an awkward silence between these two people, when in fact, Toni Colette is just sitting there in silence.

  • mroswald

    So if Toni Colette is just sitting there and Bruce Willis is sitting there and she’s not saying a word to him — hell, not even acknowledging him — wouldn’t that have tipped him off that’s something was amiss?

  • Eloi Wrath

    mroswald: Doesn’t Osment say something like “They (dead people) only see what they want to see”?

  • Travis Crabtree

    Not a fan of M. Night…. but “The Sixth Sense” was and remains a really, really great movie.

    Watched it recently and was surprised how well it held up. Absolutely fantastic.

    He did a magnificent job of making the pieces fit. I’ve tried to “bust” it, but it all fits. Even the way they take a bus to the little girl’s house. (Bruce wouldn’t be able to drive a car)

    Fuck the backlash.

    Then he took the road to Suckdom.

  • animal house

    Genuine belly laughs when his name was called during assemblies or morning register.

    You musta busted a gut calling him variations on the word “fag.” Welcome to HE!

  • reverent and free

    Mroswald, yes, there is a line by Cole who says that the ghosts only see what they want to see. That’s also why Crowe doesn’t notice that he walks through a locked door blocked by a table every time he goes into the cellar.

    You’re just supposed to assume that he’s been talking to Cole’s mother and that she quietly leaves the room so the two of them can be alone together, just like you’re supposed to assume he was called to the hospital after Cole collapses and is there with her. Sharp viewers would wonder how he enters the wake without being noticed by the family, but you don’t think that because your mind is on the plot: who is the ghost girl, what does she want, what’s in the box , etc.

  • Eloi Wrath

    animal house: Can you just fuck off until you have something to say? You just trawl the boards for opportunities to add some pathetic putdown.

  • The Winchester

    Hollis- Andy Davis had a pretty damn fine streak of Code of Silence, Above the Law, The Package, Under Siege and The Fugitive. Damn solid films all around, including the Seagal flicks.

  • Ray DeRousse

    Frankly, all of Shyamalan’s films have a leaden, airless, over-emphasized quality that feels like some unholy cross between the worst combined tendencies of Spielberg and Lucas. It’s only when the performances lift the film (as Collette and Osment did in SS) do any of Shyamalan’s films really work.

    He might be better off as a cinematographer or something, because he has a great eye for shots.

  • Hollis Mulwray

    Winchester – I stand corrected. Both “The Package” and “Under Seige” are examples of superior filmmaking. Tommy Lee Jones must be Andy’s muse.

  • moviemaniac2002

    Sad, sad, sad…..has there ever been such a catastrophic

    downfall of a once-celebrated talent? It’s as if his ego

    grew like a Cronenberg-ian flesh-altering virus and literally

    consumed him from within. Weirder still….his work with actors, which started with sturdy skilled work from his casts…and has now plummeted to Ed Wood humiliation (I never felt so sorry for actors as the bunch trapped in

    “The Happening”…and these poor kids from ‘Airbender’ are headed for a world of similar critical hurt.)

  • George Prager

    I took a huge Last Airbender yesterday morning. Had to light a few matches to remove the stench from my bathroom.

  • longrunner

    What is this Willis-attached Shyamalan script, Dalloway? It’s not a sequel to Unbreakable, is it? Agh. I love that film and sure as shit don’t want a sequel… Tell me that’s not what it is!

  • DeeZee

    Krillian: “Has there ever been a director who consistently has been able to deliver seven movies in a row where each one is worse than the one before it?”

    Uwe Boll? Lucas since Howard the Duck? [Yes, I'm aware Willow was ok, but it still holds up unevenly by today's standards.] Michael Bay since The Rock? Oh, and Rob Cohen.

  • Gordn27

    “Lucas since Howard the Duck? [Yes, I'm aware Willow was ok, but it still holds up unevenly by today's standards.]”

    When you made that reference a few days back, I wasn’t going to bother, but now that you’ve made the exact same mistake twice in a row, I have to point out to you:

    George Lucas did not direct ‘Howard the Duck’, moron.

  • DeeZee

    Gordon: It’s associated with him. And the question didn’t state they had to direct it themselves.

  • hiviper

    Prager, your first comment was witty enough, did you have to resort to the toilet?