Bottom line: Based on the Nickelodeon cartoon series, The Last Airbender presents a mythical story about a young boy who must master the elements to save a war-torn world. The film is targeted toward kids and families, and the three main characters are kids. Martial arts style violence occurs throughout (mostly performed in a fantastical style using water, air, earth and fire), and some perilous scenes may be frightening to very young viewers.MPAA Rating: PG, for fantasy action violence
Guide Age Recommendation: 7+
Runtime: Approx. 103 minutes
Release Date: July 1, 2010
The Last Airbender - Overview
In the mystical world of The Last Airbender, Earth, Air, Water and Fire nations used to live in harmony, until the day that the Fire Nation attacked. In each nation, select individuals have the power to bend their element to their will. The Avatar, who was the people's link to the spiritual world, could master all four elements, and he kept the world in balance. But one day, he disappeared, leaving everyone vulnerable to the Fire Nation's ambitions.
100 years later, all of the air nomads have been wiped out, and the Fire Nation continues to advance on the Earth and Water peoples. A Southern Water Tribe waterbender named Katara and her brother Sokka find a young boy who has long survived in an air bubble in the ice, and he is revealed to be the last airbender and the Avatar. No sooner is the Avatar, Aang, out of the ice than the fire nation is upon him. Pursued by the Fire Nation on one hand and Prince Zuko, the banished son of the Fire Lord, on the other, Aang reveals that he has thus far only mastered airbending, and he determines that he must travel to the Northern Water Kingdom in order to find a master to teach him waterbending.
Katara and Sokka journey north with Aang on a flying water buffalo named Appa. They overcome many obstacles along their way, and they try to encourage the people to rise up and fight the Fire Nation. When they arrive in the north, though, the Fire Nation and Prince Zuko are right on their heels. An epic battle ensues as fire meets water, and in order to have any hope of beating the fire nation, Aang must learn to master not only water, but also his own emotions.
The Last Airbender - Guide Review for Parents
The Last Airbender is based on the Nickelodeon TV series, Avatar: The Last Airbender. Aimed at kids seven and up, the TV show is actually quite remarkable for a kids' series. Seeing their favorite characters come to life in a live-action movie is exciting for kids, and the movie doesn't forget its audience, so the content you see in the TV show is pretty much what you get in the movie, but in live action. However, kids who follow the series and are old enough to know the difference may be disappointed by the movie version.
The Last Airbender has a few hits -- the Northern Kingdom looks great, the back story on Aang adds a lot, and Appa looks fantastic. But, there are also a lot of misses. The movie is way to short to develop the characters well, and the story feels incredibly rushed. Also, the scenes with Fire Lord Ozai are quite underwhelming.
Kids are pretty forgiving, though, and the fantasy/action/adventure elements coming together in a story where it's up to kids to save the day will be a winning combination for many. The movie also conveys a positive message through Aang, who is destined to save the world but committed not to hurt anyone in the process. The protagonists are kids who are trying to help others and do the right thing.
The Last Airbender does contain martial arts style violence throughout. Some of the fighting is hand-to-hand or involves weapons like swords, but the focus is on benders, who use martial arts style movies to control the elements. Young kids may be frightened during scenes of peril, especially those in which the firebenders are throwing fireballs. Also, the concept of manipulating water, earth or fire may be enticing to some kids to imitate at home, which could obviously be dangerous, or at the very least, messy.
The Last Airbender - Content Overview*May contain spoilers.
- Violence (High): Characters in The Last Airbender practice martial arts style fighting and bending of the elements throughout the entire movie. Characters use knives and swords, engage in hand-to-hand combat, throw fireballs and start things on fire, use air to blow their enemies away, use water to trap others or throw ice crystals at them, and bend earth to throw large rocks or create ground swellings. Some characters are bound with ropes or chains. The movie culminates in a large scale battle. Very little blood is shown, and the fighting is pretty fake looking to adults, but probably not to young kids.
- Scary Scenes (Medium): Scenes listed under "violence" may be scary to young kids. Young kids may also be frightened by the firebenders during scenes when there are a lot of flames and the benders are throwing fireballs or shooting fire at their enemies. In one scene, the skeletons of Aang's people are shown, which causes him to get very upset. He glows and the wind becomes fierce. Very young kids may be frightened by a large dragon who appears in the movie, but it turns out to be friendly.
- Sex/Nudity (Low): A boy and girl kiss on the lips.
- Drugs and Alcohol (None)
- Language (None)
- Disrespectful/Imitative Behavior (Extreme): Characters engage in martial arts fighting and manipulate air, water, earth and fire, which might be enticing for some kids to try.
- Sad/Unsettling Scenes (High): Aang finds out that all of his people have been wiped out. We hear that Katara's mother was taken by the Fire Nation and killed, and their father is fighting in the war. In a flashback, we see Prince Zuko's father burn his face and banish him. A spirit (in the form of a fish) is killed and a young girl sacrifices her life to save it.
- Movie Topics Kids Might Have Questions About: spirits or the spirit world, reincarnation, war, the loss of a loved one, tattoos, banishment, oppression.
The Last Airbender - On Blu-ray
The Last Airbender is available on Blu-ray as part of a combo pack that also includes the DVD and a digital copy. Bonus features include behind-the-scenes features, deleted scenes, outtakes and more.