Battle for Terra

  • Review Date: May 1, 2009
  • Rated: PG
  • Genre: Family and Kids
  • Release Year: 2009
  • Running Time: 85 minutes

Common Sense Media says

Animated space adventure tackles war, complex themes.
  • Review Date: May 1, 2009
  • Rated: PG
  • Genre: Family and Kids
  • Release Year: 2009
  • Running Time: 85 minutes





What parents need to know

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."

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable

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.)

Parents say

Kids say

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.

Families can talk 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

Theatrical release date:May 1, 2009
DVD release date:September 22, 2009
Cast:Evan Rachel Wood, Justin Long, Luke Wilson
Director:Aristomenis Tsirbas
Genre:Family and Kids
Topics:Adventures, Space and aliens
Run time:85 minutes
MPAA rating:PG
MPAA explanation:sequences of sci-fi action violence and some thematic elements.

This review of Battle for Terra was written by

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging, great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging, good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging, good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging, okay learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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What parents and kids say

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Teen, 16 years old Written byYadad May 2, 2010

Good for kids and adults

It was good for an animated movie. Very underated. There are good messages. It has appeal to adults. But the plot is kind of used, Avatar did it better. Still happy I saw it.
What other families should know
Great messages
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, 9 years old May 3, 2009

do not go if you like the light kind of action

I am 8 years old and i have watched many action and sci-fi movies and most of them are not really truly bad. But this movie had no character development, comedy, and it was a bit too realistic war. I am more of a fan for the comic book action style. It was pretty graphic violence. It was disturbing that a main character died, and that the earth blew up in the first place!!! I don't suggest the people who like the exciting, comical, cool special effects kind of action movie should see this. And it will probably go over the little kid's heads.
What other families should know
Too much violence


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