The Last Airbender

  • Review Date: June 30, 2010
  • Rated: PG
  • Genre: Fantasy
  • Release Year: 2010
  • Running Time: 103 minutes

Common Sense Media says

Boring -- but age-appropriate for young fans of the TV show.
  • Review Date: June 30, 2010
  • Rated: PG
  • Genre: Fantasy
  • Release Year: 2010
  • Running Time: 103 minutes





What parents need to know

Positive messages

The movie promotes collaboration, teamwork, and non-violence (Aang shows the power of elements without killing anyone).

Positive role models

Kitara and Sokka selflessly agree to help Aang on his journey. Aang finally decides to accept his role as Avatar.


Most of the fight scenes aren't very graphic because the benders don't need to get very close to each other, since they can manipulate elements, particularly fire and water. But there are some martial-arts-style fight scenes, with water and fire and earth (rocks!) thrown into the mix. There's one memorable death, but it's self-sacrificial and gently handled.


One sweet kiss and some mild flirting. In one scene, an uncle tries to convince his single-minded nephew to look for a pretty girl instead of worrying so much.


Mild insults about the disgraced heir of the Fire Nation and about the water and earth people.


Nothing in the film, but the movie is based on the popular animated Nickelodeon series and does have merchandising tie-ins.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

In one scene, the Fire Nation's commander makes a toast at a luncheon with his soldiers, but it's not clear that they're actually drinking.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that even though this live-action fantasy based on Nickelodeon's popular Avatar: The Last Airbender cartoon TV series was directed by The Sixth Sense's M. Night Shyamalan, it doesn't have much content that's inappropriate for the show's elementary-school-aged fans. There's some fighting and violence, but it's not bloody or even particularly scary. And one character gives up her life in order to save her people, but otherwise there's nothing too dark. Language and substance use aren't issues, and there's only very mild flirting between two characters, who kiss once. It's worth noting that there has been some controversy around the movie's casting, with fans objecting to Caucasian actors playing characters who are Asian in the TV series.

Parents say

What's the story?

Based on Nickelodeon's popular Avatar: The Last Airbender cartoon TV series, THE LAST AIRBENDER follows titular final Airbender Aang (Noah Ringer), who's a special master of all elements -- fire, water, earth, and air -- and has the power to unite the people of all four nations. He's been frozen in a block of ice for 100 years, during which time all of the other Airbenders were killed by greedy Fire Lord Ozai (Cliff Curtis), whose nation created weaponry that has enslaved and terrorized the Earth and Water nations. When Aang is discovered by the final Waterbender, Katara (Nicola Peltz), and her older brother, Sokka (the Twilight movies' Jackson Rathbone), they agree to help him escape and free the nations. Meanwhile, the Fire Lord's banished son, Prince Zuko (Dev Patel), believes that if he can find Aang and deliver him to his father, he'll be welcomed once again among his people ... but the Fire Lord's military commander, Zhao (comedian Aasif Mandvi), wants to beat Zuko to the prize.

Is it any good?


Director M. Night Shyamalan has a big problem. He's had five chances to prove that The Sixth Sense wasn't the film equivalent of a one-hit wonder. Even if you're being generous and say that Signs was under-appreciated, that still leaves four other films since Sense that have been at best underwhelming and at worst downright awful (The Happening). The Last Airbender is at least the former, probably because it was an adaptation of a widely beloved cartoon series, but for a movie aimed at kids, it takes it self way too seriously. There's little joy or wonder or even humor -- all fundamentals in a movie for kids

Rathbone, who plays vampire Jasper Cullen in the Twilight movie saga, is only slightly less cold and stiff in this movie -- even though Sokka is supposed to be the comic relief. The stilted dialogue is definitely to blame; it doesn't do any of the actors any favors. Only the Avatar himself, young Noah Ringer, shows some emotion, but it's not enough to carry the movie. And even the talented Patel, who made audiences cry with his performance in Slumdog Millionaire and laugh aloud in the BBC series Skins, mopes around with a huge chip on his shoulder. But all of that will probably be forgivable for the movie's target audience of 8- to 10-year-old boys, who are likely to enjoy the live-action manifestation of Avatar no matter how many of their parents find it dull and laughable.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about how The Last Airbender movie compares to The Last Airbender cartoon. How are the characters different?

  • How does the violence in this movie compare to others you've seen? Does this kind of media violence have more or less impact than what's in other fantasy/action movies? Why?

  • Aang, like most great heroes, is on a journey. Who are his helpers? Who are his nemeses? What does he need to do overcome his obstacles?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:July 1, 2010
DVD release date:November 16, 2010
Cast:Cliff Curtis, Dev Patel, Jackson Rathbone, Noah Ringer
Director:M. Night Shyamalan
Studio:Paramount Pictures
Topics:Magic and fantasy, Adventures
Run time:103 minutes
MPAA rating:PG
MPAA explanation:fantasy action violence

This review of The Last Airbender 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.

Find out more


Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

Find out more

Learning ratings

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

Find out more

About our buy links

When you use our links to make a purchase, Common Sense Media earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes. As a nonprofit organization, these funds help us continue providing independent, ad-free services for educators, families, and kids while the price you pay remains the same. Thank you for your support.
Read more

See more about how we rate and review.

What parents and kids say

See all user reviews

Share your thoughts with other parents and kids Write a user review

A safe community is important to us. Please observe our guidelines

Teen, 14 years old Written byDarkMidnight December 1, 2010

Horrible in Comparrison

I was saddened. No offence M. Night. The acting was horrible and it sounded like they were reading streight off of the script without stop. Noah Ringer showed a tad of potental I admit, his acting was good in some places, but the results still were a downer, the boy hardly smiled and his air bending looked like he was pretending to be an octopus. Katara was always so emotional, and she seemed more like a little girl than the 'motherly' figure. 'Soeka' (or as I call him) Soaks all of the fun out of everything, didn't match Sokka at all, he was FAR too serious, he always looked so angry and he hardly said ANY funny lines. And for Zuko, they must realize he growl in EVERY sentence he said in the cartoon, in the movie he sounded like he yelled everything. 'Eroh' I must say was a promising actor, but he wasn't as layed back, but the actor wasn't too bad. Although they need a chubbier actor, excuse me saying so, but Iroh was short and fat, not tall and skinny. None of the characters looked themselves, Aang sort of did, but not really, it looked like they obviously shaved his head. Katara and Sokka were Innuit, not pure as snow white, they could have hired African American's even for that role. The Fire Nation was Eastern Asian at least, not Middle Eastern. Especially Zuko in the show, he looked more Asian than most of them. As for the Earth Kingdom, they should just have all Asian actors for that one, not just TWO. They made Haru a little boy, and at the end, the girl that plays Azula is in her twenties, when Azula was only 14 years old, like Katara. If they could find someone around Katara's age to play the role, they can find a young girl that looks like Azula ('I' even look like Azula!) The affects were decent, but they were moving far too slow, they could have just rolled out of the way! The thing with the Fire benders needing a 'source of fire' is silly, if that was true, I don't think they would have gone as far as they did in the war. The people that were 'bending' looked more like they were just moving their arms all over, it hardly matched. You just couldn't relate to any of the characters, you could hardly grow on them. The set just seemed... cluttered. Little fun. Ozai didn't look scary, the characters look nothing like they should have, the names were said wrong, Appa looked like he was from "Where the Wild things Are" while Momo (his name was never said) looked like he came out of a video game. If they mess up Azula and Toph, I'm dropping it completely.
Teen, 13 years old Written byTom Cruise Fan September 30, 2014

The Last Airbender movie review

"The Last Airbender" was absolutely horrible. I was just amazed by how bad this movie was. The movie is based on a TV show which is 10,000 times better than this piece of crap. Everything with this movie is bad. There is not one good thing about "The Last Airbender". The acting was by far the worst thing I have ever seen in a movie. The actors were amateurs who had no idea what a movie was. The plot was handled in such a boring way. The TV show had a fast-paced plot. This movie was just boring. There are so many stupid things about this disaster other than the acting and the synopsis. For example, the air karate is horrible. The air karate is handled so badly. The action in this movie is stupid as all hell. The lead role was bad. Noah Ringer is a bad actor and so is all his supporting actors. The villains are so stupid. They are procrastinators who are idiotic as hell. This movie lacks another big thing that makes a good movie. It is called a screenplay. I'm pretty sure M. Night Shyamalan doesn't know what a screenplay is judging by how bad this movie was. I don't know what the hell M. Night Shyamalan was thinking in his tiny mind. I respect directors who try their best but the movie turns out being bad. Shyamalan wasn't even trying. He wanted money. He knew that "The Last Airbender" would earn lots of cash because kids loved the show. So, he decided to make the biggest piece of crap ever made in the history of cinema without even trying. I would cut up his film-making license right in front of his face. I remember myself as a nine-year old walking out of the theater so disappointed. I don't remember being more disappointed since 2008 when "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull" was unfortunately released. "The Last Airbender" should have been called "The Last Piece of Garbage M. Night Shyamalan Will Ever Make". Anyone who tells me "The Last Airbender" was a good movie has to go to a psychologist. It pains me to give "The Last Airbender" one out of five stars. It should get no stars because there is nothing good about it. This movie is the absolute worst movie ever made. Also, it is my least favorite movie of all time. Because it is so bad, I think of "The Last Airbender" as a curse word and insult. In my thirteen years of watching movies, I have never seen a movie that was so horrendous.
Kid, 12 years old December 25, 2010

Serious Benders will be dissapointed.

I watched this as a fun-flick, since I knew they were more than likely going to mess up, and I was still a little shocked by the inconsistancy. Since I know no one will be reading this to read me ranting about those details that were missed in the film from the actual show, I'll cut to the chase. First, the acting. It was ok, except for one guy. Zuko. He was an absolute ham! A tip for anyone reading who want to act or direct in a movie one day; just because the character is confused and angry does NOT mean that he should yell and shake every chance he gets. Now for the film work. I love close-ups. They show you the character's true emotions! Now, when you do close-ups in almost every shot just for the fun of it, then I get upset. Now, most importantly, the Bending. It was accurate, and did incorporate many martial arts movements from the shows, but there was something missing. Maybe I just liked the cartoon bending more because it was so fuid and cool, whereas these were sometimes choppy and awkward. Overall, If you want to take your kids out to see this, alright. Just be prepared to explain the entire movie to them, seeing as they assumed everyone watched the series and went on with the film that way. If you are a serious Avatar fan, see it for the Banding and maybe just to see your favorite characters on the big screen. Just be ready to rant later about how many parts it missed. Honestly, if the people who made this had put half as much effort and time into it as those who made films like Lord of the Rings and Star Wars prequels, they would have nailed it. Sadly, they did not. Thanks for reading!
What other families should know
Too much violence
Great messages
Great role models


Did our review help you make an informed decision about this product?

Essential School Tools