Battle for Terra

Movie review by
Sandie Angulo Chen, Common Sense Media
Battle for Terra Movie Poster Image
Animated space adventure tackles war, complex themes.
  • PG
  • 2009
  • 85 minutes

Parents say

age 9+
Based on 2 reviews

Kids say

age 8+
Based on 6 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Good-guy characters model positive traits like courage, bravery, and sacrifice. Other messages include the importance of environmental preservation, cross-cultural awareness, and peaceful negotiation. The Terrians believe in being peaceful and close to nature, but they'll also defend themselves when attacked.

Violence & Scariness

An Earth Force general wants to wipe out the Terrians so that humans can have their planet. His actions lead to many, many casualties on both sides. Opposing forces shoot at each other from battleships, and there are several explosions that result in deaths, as well as deaths from poison in the air. One main character's death is presented as an act of "noble suicide" -- but it also kills many people.

Sexy Stuff

Best friends flirt and embrace.


Very infrequent; one use of "damn" and one "God."

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that even though it's animated and targeted at kids, this sci-fi adventure deals with some very mature themes, including extinction, colonization, unprovoked war, and even a suicide bombing of sorts (the incident involves a main character and is presented as a noble sacrifice). The violence is more prominent than in most animated films and is similar to what you'd see in a movie like The Clone Wars -- animated, yes, but still disturbing. On the other hand, there are many positive lessons about environmental preservation, cross-cultural awareness, and peaceful negotiation, and there's no sex, language, or drinking to worry about. (Note: Some theaters are showing this movie in 3D, which adds an extra level of intensity.)

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 10-year-old Written byterrileew July 3, 2016

Better then expected

My ten-year-old really wanted to watch this. I wasn't interested in another animated sci-fi war movie. However, it had more depth than I expected and was a... Continue reading
Parent of a 5 and 9-year-old Written bytxnmomof2 May 10, 2009
I thought it was a good movie about the importance of peace and working together. Wish I had seen it in 3D but went to the wrong theater.
Kid, 12 years old March 8, 2014

Very good message.

Stephen Hawking said that if the cosmic phone rings to not answer. Why, because it would be like the Europeans and the Native Americans. We think as a species t... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written bymanay_4511 September 20, 2010

What's the story?

On the peaceful planet Terra, an adventurous adolescent alien named Mala (voiced by Evan Rachel Wood) notices that a huge, unidentified sphere has begun to darken the sky. Some Terrians believe the mysterious sphere is their new god, but it's actually the giant mobile home of what's left of the human race -- who've decided that Terra is just the spot for them. When fighter pilot Jim Stanton (Luke Wilson) crash lands on Terra, Mala not only helps him recover but also handily fixes his plane. But their inter-species camaraderie is tested when it becomes clear that Jim's superior officer, warmongering General Hemmer (Brian Cox), is planning a genocidal attack that will wipe out the entire Terrian race. Jim must choose between following his orders and defending Mala's gentle land from extinction.

Is it any good?

BATTLE FOR TERRA isn't your typical animated film. It's not full of double-entendre jokes, wink-wink pop-culture references, or catchy songs. Instead, it's a dramatic "message movie" aimed at older children (and adults) who could use a lesson in what could happen if the Earth becomes unsustainable because of us. That doesn't mean there's not a lot of action to entertain and engage viewers, but the mood is kind of dark -- it's difficult to root for the post-apocalyptic "Earth Force" when they're planning all-out war on Zen-like creatures.

Director Aristomenis Tsirbas shows a real knack for action-packed animation, and the 3D effects are enjoyable without being overwhelming. The story could have used a lighter touch to be more appropriate for slightly younger audiences -- who might be scared or confused by the heavy artillery of the second and third acts. But if Battle manages to draw in tweens rather than more oblivious lower-elementary kids, the eco-conscious story could take hold.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the character who decides to sacrifice their life. Why did that character make their decision? Kids: How did it make you feel? Does it have more or less impact than the rest of the movie's violence? Why? Families can also discuss the movie's environmental message. What could Earthlings have done to prevent the eventual battle? Do you think this is meant to be a cautionary tale for us?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love sci-fi

Themes & Topics

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