The world is divided into four nations: Earth, Air, Fire and Water where some of the inhabitants are able to harness the power of their elements. Peace has reigned throughout the kingdoms under the watchful eye of the Avatar (a member of the Air nation who can master the use of all four elements and has a link to the spirit world). However, when the current incarnation of the Avatar refuses to take his place and disappears, the world is left to its own devices. Now, the Fire nation seeks war and dominance over the other realms but when the young and inexperienced Avatar returns, he must take his place in order to stop the oppression that is beginning to take over the world.

The Last Airbender (2010) – Director M. Night Shyamalan

Is The Last Airbender appropriate for kids

Rating: PG

Running Length: 103 mins

Starring: Noah Ringer, Nicola Peltz, Dev Patel

Genre: Action/Adventure, Fantasy

REVIEW

Based on the Nikelodeon TV series ‘Avatar: The Last Airbender’, ‘The Last Airbender’ follows Aang, the Avatar who returns to the four realms to fulfil his destiny and bring peace back to the four kingdoms. Being faced with such an immense responsibility and the destruction of his people, Aang relies heavily on his friends, Katara and her brother, Sokka who discover him in their homeland of the water nation. Young actor, Noah Ringer (who plays Aang) carries the movie well and the supporting cast provide good performances.

This movie was universally panned by critics and, although some of this seems unfair, it is difficult to disagree completely! It’s possibly because too much is thrown into the story which already starts with a confusing plotline and, because of this, there is little time to bring any heart and soul to the film. This creates a rather flat and dull movie with only a couple of truly interesting and well-rounded characters.

Basically, ‘The Last Airbender’ isn’t a bad film, it is just a bit too confusing and a bit too long. If these elements could have been addressed and the plot tightened up, it would have been a thoroughly enjoyable kids’ action/adventure movie. This is a film which is very subjective and could be very entertaining for a lot of people (especially children) so don’t let the critics put you off!

IS ‘THE LAST AIRBENDER’ SUITABLE FOR CHILDREN?

Aang has a few flashbacks to when he lived among his fellow air nation inhabitants. This is at a temple where he was close to many children of his own age as well as several teachers; he appears to have a very close bond to one teacher in particular. However, when he returns home, he finds that everyone there is dead and all that is left is dozens of skeletons lying on the ground. The fire nation is responsible and one of the characters says ‘they exterminated all the air nomads’. Aang is deeply upset and screams in anguish when he realises what has happened.

After this discovery, Aang enters the spirit world; he is very angry and his eyes and the arrow on his forehead glow white. The spirit world is very spooky and while in there, Aang speaks to a large dragon. Although the dragon is there to help Aang, this scene may be quite scary for some younger children.

When the dialogue explains why the Prince of the Fire Nation has been exiled, it is described how he was punished – ‘The father burnt his son to teach him a lesson’. Accompanying the dialogue is a short scene; the camera focuses mainly on the Prince’s Uncle who winces as a scream is heard in the background. The Prince has large scars on his face showing that his father burnt his face badly.

During the final battle, one of the main villains is caught by some of the water people. He is trapped inside a large bubble of water and lifted into the air. He struggles and tries to escape but after a short while he stops moving and it is clear that he has drowned. The water people then walk away and the body falls to the floor while the water bubble collapses around him. Some other incidental characters are killed by being encased in ice.

CAN I SEE A CLIP?

VERDICT

‘The Last Airbender’ is a decent action/adventure movie for kids with some very positive messages although it is likely to prove somewhat dull for those with a short attention span. We feel that this movie should be appropriate for kids ages 6 and over.

  • Violence:  2/5 (mostly involving mysticism; little actual contact is seen. The moments which are a little stronger are not gory or graphic so should not be too distressing)
  • Emotional Distress: 2/5 (a character who is introduced around two-thirds of the way through the movie chooses to sacrifice their life in order to save a spirit which has been killed, those who care for them protest and are upset by this decision)
  • Fear Factor: 2/5
  • Sexual Content: 0/5 (an attraction forms between a teen  boy and girl and a romance starts to develop  but this is very innocent in nature and not at all sexual)    
  • Bad Language: 0/5
  • Dialogue: 0/5  
  • Other notes: Deals with themes of family, friendship, loyalty, loss, sacrifice for the greater good and fighting against a stronger force in order to secure and protect freedom.

Words by Laura Record

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