Battle for Terra Movie Poster Image

Battle for Terra

Animated space adventure tackles war, complex themes.
  • 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.)

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/Streaming 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.

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What parents and kids say

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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 that we would never enslave, kill, or torture another species but this movie asks the question "Are we so different from them". I teaches a great message for kids of all ages. No matter how difficult finding a peaceful solution may be, they must find it. Now for the age it's hard to choose. You won't receive the full message unless you have a decent understanding of the world. Which for kids takes a long time to kick in. I think that ages 12 and up will get this message but I highly recommend it for kids below that age because it is the perfect time waster for a kid. If you have to do something and want your kid to sit down and not bother you for a hour and a half pop this movie on.
What other families should know
Great messages
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 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 decent film to watch at home.