The Last Airbender Movie Poster Image

The Last Airbender



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.

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?


There's little joy or wonder or even humor here -- all fundamentals in a movie for kids. 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.

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

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are conducted by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.


Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

Find out more

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

About Our Rating System

The age displayed for each title is the minimum one for which it's developmentally appropriate. We recently updated all of our reviews to show only this age, rather than the multi-color "slider." Get more information about our ratings.

Great handpicked alternatives

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

Parent of a 2 year old Written byMom2Peanut November 8, 2010

Just awful all around

Really disappointing! I was excited because I liked the series, but this movie seemed like it was missing huge chunks. The acting was awful and went from low action to high emotion in seconds for seemingly no reason?
What other families should know
Too much violence
Adult Written bytrubo December 4, 2010

Worth watching and looking into the second movie which if the director learns character development and a longer movie will be d

Good movie lacked story development, but it followed the series perfectly which gave it its flavor and success that is needed for say a popular series to be a good movie.
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Parent Written byResponsablePArentOf6 September 17, 2012


My youngest son fell asleep while watching this and I can't wake him up!!!!!!!!! p.s. hahahaha evil children all your oh man threads got closed!!!!!!!!!!!!!
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Too much violence
Too much swearing
Too much consumerism
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking


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