When it comes to strongly criticized — and dare we say, bad — films, M. Night Shyamalan’s live-action adaptation of The Last Airbender is high on the list of movies that enter people’s minds. Based on Nickelodeon’s beloved animated series, Shyamalan’s take on the story has more or less become a joke among film critics and fans. Between the white-washing, lackluster effects, and cringeworthy dialogue, it’s easy to understand why so many reacted poorly to the film. What’s less understandable is how it suddenly rose to the top of Netflix’s most-watched movies list.
Yes, you read that right. Shyamalan’s The Last Airbender hit the streaming platform on Thursday last week, and by the following day, it found itself on Netflix’s Top 10 list — and at number four, no less! It’s behind only The Hangover, Coffee & Kareem and Angel Has Fallen. With so many other films and television series to watch, it’s a surprising development to say the least. Perhaps the diligent binge-watchers have already made their way through everything else the service has to offer while in quarantine…but that seems unlikely.
It is possible that people are watching it ironically, as so many great movie nights consist of notoriously bad movies. We could all use a laugh right now, so who’s to say Netflix viewers aren’t using the platform’s content to have one? There’s also the possibility that some users haven’t actually seen the Nickelodeon series The Last Airbender is based on — or have never even heard of the film itself. With nothing to compare it to, viewers may be drawn to the movie’s premise. What better way to escape reality than through a world of elemental magic?
There’s no real way to know why The Last Airbender has become such a popular Netflix choice, but one thing’s for certain: The movie might help hold fans over until Netflix’s live-action remake of the series arrives. The Last Airbender will also serve as something to compare to once the new adaptation does debut — and maybe help hype up the series for viewers who wouldn’t otherwise watch it.