Story

The Last Airbender opens with a narrator describing how the land was once divided into four nations, each representing a natural element – Fire, Earth, Water and Air. Each nation has people referred to as ‘benders’. They have the ability to manipulate the element that represents their nation.

Once in every generation a special child is born into the air nation. This is the Avatar, who is able to manipulate all four elements and maintain peace and harmony in the world. One day the Avatar disappears. In his absence, the fire nation becomes technologically advanced and declares war on the other nations. The firebenders exterminate all airbenders in hope of preventing the Avatar’s return.

One hundred years later, Katara (Nicola Peltz) and her brother Sokka (Jackson Rathbone) are out on the ice hunting. Katara is practising her waterbending skills when they find Aang (Noah Ringer), who has been trapped under the ice for 100 years. Aang is the missing Avatar. Katara and Sokka must now help Aang defeat the evil forces and restore balance to the world. To do this, they must battle firebender Prince Zuko and his rival, Commander Zhao.

Themes

The supernatural; revenge

Violence

The Last Airbender contains stylised martial arts violence. Although the movie contains minimal blood and gore, it does show death resulting from acts of violence. Examples of violence in this movie include the folllowing:

  • Sokka prods a giant creature with his spear. The creature appears to be unconscious. It stirs, and its giant beaver-like tail lands on top of Sokka, pinning him to the ground.
  • A group of soldiers carrying swords and axes forcefully herd together a group of elderly people in Katara’s village.
  • Aang uses his airbending powers to hurl a group of soldiers across a room.
  • Prince Zuko fights with four soldiers. He uses martial arts kicks and punches, breaking the arm of one of the soldiers. We hear the sound of bones breaking.
  • A group of villagers (earthbenders) rise up against a small group of soldiers (firebenders). The soldiers hurl fire at the villagers, who conjure up a wall of earth for protection. An earthbender use his powers to hurl a rock at a soldier, knocking the soldier to the ground. Aang uses airbending powers to knock several soldiers to the ground. Sokka uses a boomerang-like weapon to hit a soldier across the head, knocking him to the ground.
  • In a flashback, Prince Zuko walks into a ring to fight his father. Zuko refuses, and we hear how his father burned his face for the refusal. We hear the sounds of Zuko screaming but do not see him being burned. We do see scars on Zuko’s face when he is older.
  • An old man holds Aang at bay with a knife as a large group of soldiers surround Aang and take him prisoner. They lead him away in chains.
  • A soldier discovers two soldiers hanging by their necks from the ceiling. While he is looking at them, he is knocked unconscious by a masked man.
  • Aang is imprisoned and suspended from the ceiling by chains. A masked man wielding a sword cuts Aang’s chains and frees him. Aang and the masked man fight off numerous soldiers wielding swords and poleaxes. Aang uses his airbending powers to knock the soldiers to the ground. The soldiers hurl fire at Aang, and Aang kicks a soldier in the head. To escape, the masked man holds a sword at Aang’s throat and threatens to kill him. They are allowed to leave, but an arrow is fired at the masked man. It hits him in the head. The man is saved by his mask, which is cracked. We see a small amount of blood on his lips.
  • Dozens of battleships with hundreds of large cannons sail in to attack the fortress of the water nation people.
  • Prince Zuko hurls fire at Katara, who hurls water at the fire. Katara is thrown hard against a wall of rocks and is knocked unconscious.
  • Battleships hurl spouts of fire against a giant wall of ice protecting a city. The fire punches a hole through the wall of ice. Men riding giant lizards climb the wall of ice, and the riders hurl fire at people. Waterbenders attack the lizards and their riders by throwing water and ice at them. The men and lizards are tossed about by the force of the water. There is hand-to-hand fighting between the two groups, but no blood and gore are shown.
  • During a fight between Aang and Prince Zuko, Zuko grabs Aang by the throat, twists his arm and throws him against a wall. The pair wrestle. Aang hurls air at Zuko, and Zuko hurls fire at Aang. Katara hurls water at Zuko. The water freezes, completely encasing Zuko in ice, which is melted by Aang to allow him to breathe.
  • Commander Zhao catches a large goldfish, the Moon Spirit, in a bag. Zhao then uses a sword to stab the fish through the bag. A short time later, we see the dead fish floating in the water.
  • Commander Zhao hurls fire at Prince Zuko and another man, but the man deflects Zhao’s fire. Four waterbenders encase Zhao in a spear of water that drowns him, his dead body falling to the ground.

Content that may disturb children

Under 8

In addition to the violent scenes mentioned above, this movie contains some scenes that could scare or disturb children under eight. For example:

  • The force of a giant spear crashing through the ice throws Katara and Sokka through the air. They land on their backs on the ice.
  • There are some scary giant flying creatures, including the one ridden by Aang.
  • When Aang wields large amounts of power, his eyes and the tattoos on his head and face glow white hot. Bright white light flares out of him.
  • While visiting a temple, Aang comes across a field littered with the skeletal remains of many monks. Aang accidentally steps on some of these, and we hear the sound of bones braking. Katara tells Aang that the monks were all killed by firebenders trying to stop the Avatar’s return. The dead monks were Aang’s teachers and friends 100 years earlier. Aang removes a necklace from the chest cavity of one of the skeletons. He is upset at the discovery and screams out, using his powers to create a cyclone and to rise up in the air.
  • Aang is spreadeagled and chained at the wrists and ankles while suspended from a ceiling.
  • An assassin-like warrior wears a scary mask.
  • Prince Zuko is trapped beneath the ice. He pounds on the ice with his hands and tries to break through. His fingers are bloodied.
  • Men ride numerous giant lizards.
  • Aang is distressed about not being able to have a family because of his responsibilities as an Avatar.
  • Princess Yue tells Aang that she is willing to give up her life to give the Moon Spirit (dead goldfish) its lifeforce back. She lowers herself into a pool of water and her life energy transfers from her body to the body of the dead fish. This brings the dead fish back to life. With the exchange of life force, the princess’s hair changes colour from white to black. The dead princess is lifted out of the water, and Sokka cradles her body in his arms.

From 8-13

Children in this age group might also be disturbed by some of the scenes mentioned above.

Over 13

Children in this age group are unlikely to be disturbed by anything in this movie.

Sexual references

None of concern

Alcohol, drugs and other substances

None of concern

Nudity and sexual activity

This movie contains some nudity and sexual activity. For example:

  • Zuko’s uncle has his feet massaged by an attractive young woman.
  • Princess Yue and Sokka flirt mildly.
  • Sokka and Princess Yue kiss and hug in one scene.

Product placement

None of concern

Coarse language

None of concern

Ideas to discuss with your children

The Last Airbender is based on an animated television series. It is an action adventure targeting younger children, but with scenes and images that might disturb children under 10.

The main message from this movie is that there is no love without sacrifice.

Values in this movie that you could reinforce with your children include:

  • selflessness – many characters, including young children, make great sacrifices for the benefit of others
  • responsibility – at great personal cost, Aang realises what his responsibilities and meets them.

The heroes in this movie are young teenagers and children. You might want to talk with your children about whether it’s right to place such hardship and responsibility on children. You could discuss how children might be affected by too much responsibility.