This holiday weekend sees the release of 'The Last Airbender,' and while a big-budget, 3-D fantasy movie fits right in with the 4th of July weekend, M. Night Shyamalan -- the director behind the camera -- is not a name you're used to seeing in the credits.

Shyamalan broke onto the scene with the release of the paranormal thriller 'The Sixth Sense.' He followed it up with 'Unbreakable' -- which became a cult success on DVD -- and the alien-invasion hit 'Signs.' However, his most recent films -- 'The Village,' 'Lady in The Water,' and 'The Happening' -- were maligned by critics and audiences for poorly thought-out fantasy turns and needless twists.

'The Last Airbender' is a departure for Shyamalan: It's a family film, it's action-driven, and it's based on a pre-existing concept (in this case, a beloved Nickelodeon anime). For the viewers who have grown increasingly disappointed with his work, it's his chance to put his unique talents under a new spotlight and prove to audiences that he still has it.

News just broke that M. Night is shopping around a top-secret script with A-list stars for his next project. But even though it's shrouded in secrecy, it just conjures up thoughts of "same old Shyamalan." After our curiosity was piqued by the idea of his signing on to make a summer blockbuster about elemental martial-arts children, this new mystery project sounds like he is quickly returning to the well that burned out viewers in the first place. We've put together a few off-beat options that we'd rather see M. Night tackle, that just may expand his horizons. This holiday weekend sees the release of 'The Last Airbender,' and while a big-budget, 3-D fantasy movie fits right in with the 4th of July weekend, M. Night Shyamalan -- the director behind the camera -- is not a name you're used to seeing in the credits.

Shyamalan broke onto the scene with the release of the paranormal thriller 'The Sixth Sense.' He followed it up with 'Unbreakable' -- which became a cult success on DVD -- and the alien-invasion hit 'Signs.' However, his most recent films -- 'The Village,' 'Lady in The Water,' and 'The Happening' -- were maligned by critics and audiences for poorly thought-out fantasy turns and needless twists.

'The Last Airbender' is a departure for Shyamalan: It's a family film, it's action-driven, and it's based on a pre-existing concept (in this case, a beloved Nickelodeon anime). For the viewers who have grown increasingly disappointed with his work, it's his chance to put his unique talents under a new spotlight and prove to audiences that he still has it.

News just broke that M. Night is shopping around a top-secret script with A-list stars for his next project. But even though it's shrouded in secrecy, it just conjures up thoughts of "same old Shyamalan." After our curiosity was piqued by the idea of his signing on to make a summer blockbuster about elemental martial-arts children, this new mystery project sounds like he is quickly returning to the well that burned out viewers in the first place. We've put together a few off-beat options that we'd rather see M. Night tackle, that just may expand his horizons.

1. Make 'The Last Airbender 2' and '3'
Duh. 'The Last Airbender' is the first of a possible trilogy that would adapt each season of the cartoon into its own movie installment. Shyamalan is a professed fan of the show, and it's already a stylistic compliment to his own thematic flourishes -- thanks to its use of water and air as powerful, mystic forces. Granted, he and Paramount can't do anything until they know if this film is a success, but we'd like to see him go full-bore, Peter Jackson-in-'Lord of the Rings' mode and devote the next few years of his life to telling the whole story. By the time it's over, doing another possibly-supernatural, definitely-secretive film would feel like a nice change of pace.

2. Make a Slasher Film
One of the biggest criticisms against the threats in Shyamalan's films is their over-the-top magical nature. But Shyamalan is still really good at making an effective scare. After killer plants and grass-covered wolves called "Scrunts," we'd like to see him just do a movie about a guy with a knife and mask. You can't possibly over-complicate that ... can you?

3. Work From Another Writer's Script
Shyamalan is currently producing 'The Night Chronicles' -- a series of thrillers written and directed by upcoming filmmakers, based on M. Night's ideas (the first one, 'Devil,' hits theaters in February). Maybe he should return the favor and direct a budding writer's story. Shyamalan's screenwriting skills are a major source of criticism against him; taking that burden away and highlighting a young creative voice might be the shot in the arm he needs.

4. Make a TV Show
He could do the opposite of J.J. Abrams and move from film into the world of television. Imagine a film like 'Unbreakable' -- which was the opening act of a superhero saga -- actually stretched out over the course of a season. Plus, the very mechanics of television mean that Shyamalan could not write everything by himself. The oft-criticized logic gaps in his stories would be filled in by a room of staff writers. Shyamalan has always been a capable director, with a great eye for building mood; he could concentrate on directing a lean, compact 60 minutes of suspense. Viewers would anxiously await weekly trips into the world he creates, like his very own 'Twin Peaks.'

5. Work on the Next 'Indiana Jones' Movie
At one point, Shyamalan was brought on to script what would become 'Kingdom of the Crystal Skull' before ultimately deciding he wasn't right for the project. 'Skull' ended up being a huge disappointment, filled with hokey science fiction. If 'Indy 5' happens, perhaps the combination of Spielberg, Lucas, and Shyamalan all having to work together would keep everyone's egos in check. After they cancel out each others' ludicrous ideas about aliens and monkeys, we might get a fun movie. Perhaps.

6. Do More Commercials
This is the only time we'll ever encourage someone to shill for a product, but his American Express commercial wasn't bad. Maybe starring in some more ads will loosen him up a bit.


7. Write Another "Talking Rodents" Movie
Don't forget, before 'The Sixth Sense,' he co-wrote 'Stuart Little.' That movie's $140 million box-office performance was the opening salvo to a world populated by 'Alvin and the Chipmunks' and 'G-Force.' There's a 3-D 'Alvin' sequel on the way, and the upcoming 'Mighty Mouse' film is looking for a new creative team. It's time for M. Night to go old-school.

8. Hang Out With The Wachowskis. Party Like It's 1999.
Regardless of anything else that might happen, he's still the guy that made 'The Sixth Sense,' just like the Wachowskis are still the directors of 'The Matrix.' If all three of those guys never have hits as big as in the ones they had in 1999, they could always just walk away now and still use those bragging rights to their advantage. He'll never have to wait in line again ... after all, he did come up with "I see dead people."