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Movie Review

The Last Airbender also known as “Airbender,” “Avatar: The Last Airbenderm,” “Avatar: Son Hava Bükücü,” “Die Legende von Aang,” “L'ultimo dominatore dell'aria,” “Legenda par pedejo gaisa pavelnieku,” “Luftens sidste mester,” “O Último Airbender,” “O Último Mestre do Ar,” “Poslední vládce vetru,” “Posledný vládca vetra,” “Viimane õhutaltsutaja,” “Повелитель стихии”

MPAA Rating: PG for fantasy action violence.

Reviewed by: Angela Bowman
CONTRIBUTOR

Very Offensive
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Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Kids Family
Genre:
Family Sci-Fi War Fantasy Adventure 3D
Length:
1 hr. 43 min.
Year of Release:
2010
USA Release:
July 2, 2010 (wide)
DVD: November 16, 2010
Copyright, Paramount Pictures click photos to ENLARGE Copyright, Paramount Pictures Copyright, Paramount Pictures Copyright, Paramount Pictures Copyright, Paramount Pictures Copyright, Paramount Pictures Copyright, Paramount Pictures Copyright, Paramount Pictures Copyright, Paramount Pictures Copyright, Paramount Pictures
Relevant Issues
Copyright, Paramount Pictures

REINCARNATION—Does the Bible allow for this possibility? Answer


Fire in the Bible

Magic and magicians in the Bible

Death

Final judgment

The true Messiah

How do we know that Jesus was the Messiah? Answer

Messiah

Buddhism

Why I stopped following Buddha and started following Jesus Christ? Answer

Ten Questions I’d Ask If I Could Interview Siddhartha Gautama (Buddha) Today

Can mysticism lead to God? Answer

Personal story: Jesus Christ 2, Buddha 0

Dragon

Dragons in the Bible

For kids and teens
Teen Qs™—Christian Answers for teenagers
Teens! Have questions? Find answers in our popular TeenQs section. Get answers to your questions about life, dating and much more.
Kid Explorers
Adventures in the rainforest! Learn about the Creator of the universe by exploring His marvelous creation. Fun for the whole family with games, activities, stories, answers to children’s questions, color pages, and more! One of the Web’s first and most popular Christian Web sites for children. Nonprofit, evangelical, nondenominational.
Featuring: Jackson Rathbone (Sokka), Dev Patel (Zuko), Cliff Curtis (Firelord Ozai), Nicola Peltz (Katara), Seychelle Gabriel (Princess Yue), Noah Ringer (Aang), Shaun Toub (Uncle Iroh), Jessica Andres (Suki), Aasif Mandvi (Commander Zhao), Dee Bradley Baker (Appa / Momo (voice)), Randall Duk Kim (Old Man in Temple), Ben Cooke (Avatar Roku), Ali Khan (Ancient Firebender), Katharine Houghton (Gran Gran), Keong Sim (Earthbending Father), Rohan Shah (Young Prince Zuko), Francis Guinan (Master Pakku), more »
Director: M. Night Shyamalan
Producer: Paramount Pictures, Nickelodeon Movies, Blinding Edge Pictures, The Kennedy/Marshall Company, M. Night Shyamalan, Kathleen Kennedy, Frank Marshall, more »
Distributor: Paramount Pictures

“Four nations, one destiny”

Based on the popular animated TV series, “The Last Airbender” tells of a world at war and an Avatar who is the key to balance. Bender of all elements, the Avatar is the only one who is able to communicate with the spirit world. Found in his current reincarnation as Aang (Noah Ringer), a young boy who ran away from his responsibilities before he could learn to fully use his power, he is awakened by two siblings from the Southern Water Tribe; Katara (Nicola Peltz), who is able to bend (or control) water and her brother Sokka (Jackson Rathbone of “Twilight”).

When Aang is taken from their village by the cruel Prince Zuko (Dev Patel of “Slumdog Millionaire”), the duo feel it is their duty to go to his aid, realizing along the way that the mission is greater than expected—to assist him in saving the world from the current and growing domination of the Fire Nation.

Although M. Night Shyamalan couldn’t keep this one in Pennsylvania, I was surprised how much was actually filmed in state. With locations in Vietnam and Greenland as well, the settings are spectacular. Visually speaking, “The Last Airbender” is impressive, however I found the story to be lacking, and could not decide whether or not poor acting was an additional contribution or simply the result of poor writing. Upon reflection, I realized that rather than lacking, it seemed the problem was an excess of material with a lack of depth which caused it to be quite dull.

In short, there was nothing to hold on to. As the series is divided into the four elements (water, earth, fire and air), and the film was focused on the element of water, as well as left open at the end, we can surmise that there will be at least three more to come, one for each element.

Fans may enjoy the cartoon come-to-life transformation, although many have expressed concern over the non-Asian number of key actors, ticket sales will reveal their final thoughts on the matter. Personally, due to the spiritual content, I was relieved to be so disinterested.

Rooted in Eastern Philosophy, and heavily infused into the story are reincarnation, Eastern meditation, spirit creatures (including praying to, guidance from, and protection by the creatures), chi and yin and yang. During heightened states of consciousness, Aang’s tattoos and eyes glow (the arrows apparently indicating the flow of chi).

REINCARNATION—Does the Bible allow for this possibility? Answer

Why I stopped following Buddha and started following Jesus Christ? Answer

Possible frightening images are a dark dragon spirit creature and a mask worn by one of the characters for a particular scene. Martial arts violence including warring and death. Benders also use elements to attack and defend.

It should be noted that the word “avatar” can refer to the incarnation of a Hindu deity, an incarnation or embodiment of philosophy in human form, or a variant version of a continuing entity. While the latter seems the best fit in this case, at first glance, any or all of these definitions are applicable.

If there is any area in which I am particularly lax when it comes to film and Christian standards, it would be the area of the magical and fantastical. Viewing this type of matter as pure fantasy, it can be difficult to know when or if lines are crossed—if one even bothers to consider it while being transported to another world. But because “The Last Airbender” is based on actual practices, and because they are essential to and part of the story, I do not recommend this film or the actual series, which seems even more heavily infused.

Aside from the obvious, many of the movements in these cultures have spiritual meanings and invocations that should not be taken lightly. Fighting (or defensive), physical balance and stretching techniques are one thing, but deliberate movements and practices to invoke the spiritual apart from Jesus is a form of occultism, regardless of the name you give it.

While there are truths to—and noble ideas from—Eastern religions, it should be first in mind that they deceptively shadow the danger. It is wise to remember that since the beginning, Satan has used a bit truth to mask a bigger lie. 1 Peter 5:8 says to…

“Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.”

Violence: Heavy (for a kid’s movie) / Profanity: None / Sex/Nudity: Minor (short kiss / brief shirtless male)

See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.


Viewer CommentsSend your comments
Comments below:
Positive
Positive—This was a “fun” and “clean” film. It was a pleasure to see young actors portraying characters without the use of potty humor, bad language or questionable/disrespectful behavior. The special effects are excellent and the action is choreographed very well. My 8.5 and 10.5 y/o boys enjoyed it as well. They recognized it was different than the cartoon series and are anxious for the next two movies. They story is basic and leaves you wanting more. 3D is not necessary. Save your money.

NOTE: The Buddhist principles are obvious, but NOT threatening to the Christian faith. This movie does not ask you to compromise your faith to enjoy the story nor is it emotionally engaging you to question Christianity. It’s fiction, it’s make believe. The main characters have obvious purpose and face trouble in their journey. Let these observations serve as an opportunity to link Christ to your kids. For the cost of a dinner for four, take your kids to a matinee and enjoy a clean show.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 3½
—JV, age 38 (USA)
Positive—Use this movie to shine the light of the Son into the darkness by Night.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Very Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Torri, age over 40 (USA)
Positive—As a movie, I agree with my teenage son that “…Airbender” is “watchable.” I was surprised to enjoy a movie based on a cartoon, and it was better than I expected.

Fully aware of it’s Buddhist beliefs throughout, as a Christian mom I think this movie provides many good teachable moments to open discussions with young people about non-Christian beliefs and the growing trend of worshipping the creation instead of the Creator. Not only in Buddhism but other pagan religions and much of the Green movement. Discussing the pagan emphasis on air, water, earth, fire, and spirit can help young Christians to recognize the underlying religious beliefs behind many of the popular cartoons, games, and such.

Contrasting those beliefs with Scripture can help equip them with the truth and discernment. The four nations portrayed as different ethnic groups was interesting, I thought. That could provide a discussion on Babel, the division during the time of Peleg and after the Flood. The dragon could provide a discussion on Biblical references to dragons, especially Job 40 and Revelations. Although it is important for us to be careful what we view and let into our minds, I feel that some things in the world can be used as teaching tools against the deception of the world. Our kids will be increasingly exposed to pagan beliefs and movies like Airbender can be helpful in exposing more subtle forms of creation worship and arming them with a firm foundation over spiritual untruths. It may also help to open up dialogues with others about their beliefs and provide an opportunity to share what God’s Word says on such matters and share the Gospel.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Very Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Torri, age over 40 (USA)
Positive—My wife and I went to see this movie last week. I read several of the negative reviews, but I was determined that I would not let others decide if I liked the movie or not. Either way, both of us really enjoyed “The Last Airbender.” I was told how it didn’t make sense (if you didn’t know the story from the cartoon), and that it was very confusing. I found this to be totally untrue. I had no problem whatsoever following the storyline, and to be honest, it left me eager for the next movie to come out (at least I’m hoping that M. Night makes the 2nd of the trilogy).

Perhaps it helped because neither of us knew anything about the cartoon. I felt there was plenty of incredible action, great graphics and a very interesting story line. I also liked the fact that there was no bad language. That’s rare these days.

With this being said, I do agree that there were times when the acting was well below par. Also, the 3D was pretty much useless. But then I read about how this movie wasn’t made for 3D and was converted to 3D at the last minute. That bothers me, because I see it as just another way for Hollywood to rip us off. Of course, the movie is also EXTREMELY heavy in Buddhist and New Age philosophy, but then again, this movie makes no claim of being a Christian movie. As far as I’m concerned, it’s strictly for entertainment purposes, and, for my wife and I, it was very entertaining. Even with these negatives, like I said, we both really enjoyed this movie and look forward to the next in the series.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Eric Freeman, age 41 (USA)
Positive—This film stayed true to the cartoon series, which I have watched in its entirety along with my 15-y-o daughter, who got me “hooked.”

The story is filled with Eastern ideals and reincarnation, which is to be expected given that the series is an Asian story. But there are great life lessons to be learned for Christians--such as forgiveness, honor, love, and sacrifice. Christians aren’t the only ones with morals…we are the only ones with the message of the true Savior. Some Eastern religions have higher moral values than some Christians practice.

So I would say, go watch this film with your kids and talk to them about the values you hold dear and remind them that Jesus Christ is the only way to salvation. Remind them that it is appointed unto men once to die, and after that, the judgment.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Katrina, age 42 (USA)
Positive—This movie was boring. Aside from the few action scenes, there was too much dialogue. Too much explaining. I am usually interested in learning about the beliefs of others. I enjoy conversations about other religions, so the spiritual stuff wasn’t a problem. We live in a world of diverse beliefs, and while I hope that everyone will be converted to Christianity, the reality is that other beliefs will be around for a while. Tolerance needs to be a priority in our lives. Tolerance without acceptance or encouragement. Paul may have been a “Jew to gain the Jews,” but I would expect that he didn’t give in on any of God’s principle teachings. He was tolerant.

That said, the dialogue wasn’t even interesting. The humor I expected wasn’t there. Indiana Jones, Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings and Narnia were funnier movies. Bending took too many moves. My wife reminded me of the swordsman in Indiana Jones that was really impressive with all his moves but Indy pulled out a gun and shot him. I could throw 5 spears in the time it took to shoot a stream of water. I mention this as a reiteration of how slow the movie was.

There was no swearing, no sexual themes, and no other innapropriate content. My children had fun(ages 15, 14, and 10) My 15 year old said “I can’t wait for book 2.” For a clean movie my children liked, I would suggest it to everyone. I don’t know why they liked it and I didn’t, but they did. We will go see the next movie too.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Chris Ransom, age 44 (USA)
Positive—I have seen this movie but didn’t want to comment really about the movie itself but to the comments I see on here about it. I myself am christian, and I find it hurtful when people say “It was offensive from a religious stand point.” True, we all have different beliefs and ways of thinking. But even the Bible says two things: (1) Hate the sin and not the sinner. (2) Don’t know the exact phrasing but essentially we aren’t very good if we don’t learn about other beliefs, cultures… etc. Yes, we know in this movie its a different belief. But how are we to witness if we just avoid other religions or complain about them?

My pastor was an archeologist and worked in Egypt even when he became a pastor. He said he knew everything about what the religion and the surrounding pyramids. But he said there’s a difference between knowing/understanding and actually believing. He said if he didn’t learn the religion there, he wouldn’t have been able to witness to them. He said he would have looked like an ignorant man. This is why we shouldn’t be offended to some degree by these movies. They do teach us how to witness to others.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—Matt S, age 28 (USA)
Positive—Though I use this site frequently, I have not ever made a comment myself, but I must speak up to disagree with the “Heavy” violence rating of “The Last Airbender.” Yes, there are Bibilcally inaccurate points made—it is a fantasy film, purely stated as such, and is based around a modgepodge of Eastern religions—but it is obviously a kid’s movie. I watched it last night and could not remember a single bit of blood. There is NOT heavy violence. There are swashbuckling wars and martial arts (heavy on the arts) fight scenes, but it is certainly not graphic. And, there is absolutely NO sexuality whatsoever. One very UNsexual kiss that lasts one instant.

The most offensive part of this film to me was the overly explicit nature of the story—explaining every tiny bit of exposition—but, again, this is a kid’s movie. The filmmakers thought that the mix of Eastern ideas would make for an interesting film and are in no way promoting those views as a better religion than Christianity.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Jessica, age 26 (USA)
Positive—My family and I recently viewed “The Last Airbender” in a hotel room. Although the movie was obviously steeped in Eastern Mysticism, we decided to watch it because our children so enjoyed the series. The movie was completely free of sexual innuendo, sassiness and swearing. How refreshing!

There were some really good spiritual analogies that we were able to discuss during the fight scenes, as well as contrasting the Buddhist world view from Christianity. Of course the Bible is clear that we have but one life to live after that the Judgment. There were some moments when the analogies were just wonderful to discuss with our two boys 8 and 9. (The girls 4 and 6 quickly lost interest).

Here are some of those teachable moments. When Aang tells the earth tribe to fight for themselves, we talked about how the Devil convinces us that there is nothing that we can do, but just like the story we are gifted with the Power of God By the Holy Spirit. Indeed we are more than conquerors through Christ. Also the princess makes a statement,“That there is no love without sacrifice.” Amen, Princess.

The avatar is also a mediator between the spirit world and the physical. This gave us an opportunity to talk about the role that Jesus has before the Father. The relationship of anger and unforgiveness on our ability to affect the world for the better was also well portrayed.

If your parenting style is one of sheltering, then this movie may not be for you. As for me and our boys we are looking forward to the next installment.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Carola Tibben, age 37 (Canada)
Positive—I know many will not like this movie, due to the involvement of spirits and the discussion of moon spirits and other spirits, but it depends on how you look at a movie, really. ***SPOILER*** The girl with the blond hair gave her life for all of mankind. If you compare her to Jesus and what He did, then it can become a Christian movie in a second. I guess it is all in how you choose to view it.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Excellent! / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Bethany, age 40 (USA)
Neutral
Neutral—“The Last Airbender” has been the subject of most ridicule. While I do agree that the movie was not to par, I would not call it downright horrible. I can see why non-fans would not like the movie. To some, the movie moved really fast, as they tried to condense over 20 episodes into just over an hour, but I do not agree that it got such bad reviews as it did. I thought the plot was engaging and the characters well developed, that being said, I do agree when having a movie with child actors as the main characters, that does not always turn out very well. The actors could have been much better.

I can also understand why fans did not appreciate the movie. There was a strong lack of traits that were essential to the characters (example: Aang’s fun loving personality was non-existent), and how quickly the story flew by in the Earth kingdom leaving out many supporting characters. However, I do disagree that it was completely horrible. I think it is mostly exaggeration, because of the disappointment from fans of the series, fans of M. Night Shyamalan, and new comers who had no idea what to expect from either.

Christians were obviously offended by the obvious nod to Taoism in the film and series, but let’s remember that this is in a fictional universe much like Narnia and Middle Earth, and unlike “The Golden Compass,” it does not openly express disdain for Christians.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 3
Jacob Airey, age 23 (USA)
Negative
Negative—This movie was awful. Not just the actual movie, but be prepared to have lots of references to spirit mumbo jumbo. I regularly watch the series with my sons and have never found there to be such an overwhelming amount of junk about the spirit world. The series is funny and interesting and does reference spirits sometimes, but it’s never the entire focus.

The movie was boring, uninspired, and not worth the money the kids and I spent to see it. If you must see it, wait for it to come out on video. If you can pass, please do so. Watch the series on TV instead!
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 1½
—Sandie, age 32 (USA)
Negative—“The Last Airbender” could be the last “Air Ball” for Mr. M. Night. This was terrible! I can even get past all the Avatar-like references to nature worship (though there was much more of it in Airbender), but the story-line was so predictable and boring, and the acting… horrific. Some of these actors should have been fined instead of paid. I saw this in 3D, and the special affects were good, but not necessarily great. Please, PLEASE don’t waste your money. If you really feel inclined to see this, wait for DVD… and then you can be severely disappointed for only $5.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Michael A., age 41 (USA)
Negative—Before I went to see “The Last Airbender,” I had read numerous negative reviews about the film, so I came into the theater with the absolute lowest expectations I’ve ever had for a movie. Those low expectations were crushed. It truly was as poorly done as everyone else had said. I really cannot put into words how disappointing this movie is.

As a fan of the original cartoon series, I thought this movie had the potential to be well done. Instead, there was little I enjoyed during the movie, other than some of the effects. Honestly, most of the time I found myself either cringing or wanting to fall asleep. The lines and dialogue were truly awful. The way the movie jumped from place to place as they tried to fit 20 episodes into a 2 hour movie gave you no time to get attached to the characters or allow for any character development.

Even the action scenes couldn’t make up for the rest of the movie. Also, 3D was worthless in this movie. Whether you’re a fan of the original series or not, please don’t waste your time or money in seeing this movie. Morally, there was nothing I found too objectionable in the movie. There was some fighting, of course, but it was well within its PG rating. There was talk of the “spirits” and the “spirit world” [spirits giving life, killing spirits, etc.] throughout the movie as well.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 1
—Grace, age 19 (USA)
Negative—I really had high hopes for this movie walking in. I hadn’t seen the series in a LONG time and saw the previews for the movie. I was disappointed in this movie. This movie had potential. M. Night Shymalan is a good director, so I was suprised with this movie.

The thing that offended me, as a Christian, about this movie were the teachings of Buddhism. I should’ve left when they started talking about the Spirits, but I didn’t. As the viewer Grace mentioned, this movie tried to cram way too much information in one movie. As I was walking out of the theater I heard one man state, “There was too much plot, not enough action.”

Do I recommend this movie? No. My advice is to save your money and see the “The Karate Kid” instead. Keep trying Hollywood.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 2
—Alex M., age 20 (USA)
Negative—I’m glad I went to see this show solo. The commentators are right. Pagan mysticism was the center of the film. I wholeheartedly agree with the reviewer about where to draw the line between what is acceptable and what’s not, to a Christian, regarding ‘fantasy” movies. Movies like “The Chronicles of Narnia” do not focus on pagan idolatry, even though the villain is a “witch.” When pagan worship, intercession, and/or theology is an “essential” part of a film (seen as good), Christians need to use their God given spiritual discernment.

When I walked out of the theater [after my viewing], I wasn’t sure what I thought, as in most cases. I have come to the conclusion that, based on the heavy pagan content, believers should stay away. If you disagree and claim to be a true follower of Christ, then I beg you to ask yourself, why do we as Christians watch the things that God hates—for our enjoyment? If you’re honest with yourself, you might repent. I sure did. Grace and peace in Him.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Karl, age 25 (USA)
Comments from young people
Negative—A muddled collection of mediocre to terrible acting, thin and in places nonexistent plot, dragging, cringe-inducing, predictable dialogue, and unlikable characters. I fully regret seeing this movie. It has not only met, but completely redefined, my definition of a “bad movie”
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 2½
—Jordan, age 14 (USA)
Negative—When I walked into this theater, I thought I would like this movie, but I was wrong. No, I’ve never seen the series really, but the movie looked pretty good. Although the action scenes, special effects, and quality was really good, the whole movie was VERY offensive!

First of all, they kept on talking about spirits! It was very weird! They also talked about reincarnation. There was a few parts when they said not to kill the avatar, because he will just be born again—reincarnation. They said a dragon spirit talked to him, and he knew what he had to do. He had to get in the spirit world? They also killed some kind of spirit which made their world unbalanced. A girl said she had white hair because when she was born, she wasn’t alive, so they dipped her in sacred waters, and her hair turned white and life poured into her…

I asked my sister if the show had all this and she said she didn’t remember all of the spirit things. Yeah, the show was popular, so this movie could have been great! But something got messed up along the way, an it turned out to be very offensive. Even thogh it was kinda interesting and it had cool effects, I wouldn’t reccomend this movie to christians unless you are alright with this. I hope you find this comment useful, and you might want to think twice about seeing The Last Airbender.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Very Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 3½
—Anna, age 12 (USA)
Negative—In short, this movie was poorly acted support for eastern mysticism with some cool special effects. In many parts of the movie, the acting felt shallow and forced. The plot wasn’t much developed nor was it God-honoring. Much of the movie dealt with past lives and other things that can be traced back to easter mysticism. Most of the fight scenes were entertaining and fun to watch, but they weren’t enough to make up for the rest of the movie. Thankfully, language, sex, and violence is kept to a minimun, but again, all that is replaced by the ocultism that was infused throughout the fim.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Very Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 2½
—Hayden, age 14 (USA)
Positive—I am a big fan of the series, and I thought they stayed on the plot line very well. Some major characters were missing (Kyoshi warriors anyone?). I understand everyone’s concerns about the Bhuddism and other… but it’s not meaning to be offensive! It’s just another fantasy story, so don’t get too worked up about okay?
My Ratings: Moral rating: Excellent! / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—Hannah, age 13 (USA)
Negative—This movie’s story plot was okay, however the worshiping and spirits were not convenient for 5-13 year olds. There were other things, like the sacred fish (aka moon and sun gods), that ruled the strange nations, also, there is a scene in the movie when, Aang (the last airbender) encounters a spirit, and asks him for guidance. This movie, I found offensive and inappropriate for 5-10 year olds.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Very Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Emily, age 12 (USA)
Movie Critics
…talky, plodding, disjointed pagan fantasy…
—Movieguide
…the conclusion of “The Last Airbender” is a tease for the saga’s sequel. Yet, with a surprising lack of verve, humor, and narrative tension, Shyamalan’s live-action foundation film is unlikely to woo new fans to the tale. …
—Marjorie Baumgarten, The Austin Chronicle
…“The Last Airbender”? Let’s hope so… After 94 minutes—was that all? I could have sworn it was days—of muddy 3-D imagery and muddled storytelling, the idea that this is just the first “Last Airbender” seems either delusionally optimistic or downright cruel. …
—A.O. Scott, The New York Times
…After spending the past decade making bad movies, writer-director M. Night Shyamalan has branched out in “The Last Airbender.” He has made a really bad movie. … dull, boring, poorly acted, limply written and thoroughly unappealing fantasy, featuring bland characters locked in a struggle of no interest. …
—Mick LaSalle, San Francisco Chronicle
“The Last Airbender” is an agonizing experience in every category I can think of and others still waiting to be invented. The laws of chance suggest that something should have gone right. Not here. It puts a nail in the coffin of low-rent 3D, but it will need a lot more coffins than that. …
—Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times
Comments from non-viewers
Negative—I haven’t seen the movie, but some very close friends of mine have. This movie is based off of the anime, but it doesn’t even get close to doing the anime justice. From what I heard, they “tried” to make it all about the action and epicness. The animated series is hardly focused on this at all. The anime is very very funny, and it does throw in some awesome action, but it never leaves you without a laugh.

As far as I heard, there was little to no comedy in this movie. If you’re doing a movie based off of this anime and don’t have humor, then you’re making up your own movie entirely. Also, as a note to what the Christian Spotlight reviewer said above, there are only 3 parts to the story. Aang already knows air bending so there wouldn’t be a movie based off of Air. The anime itself is divided into the three “books”: water, earth, and fire. The books are about Aang learning each of these elements before trying to bring down the fire nation’s rule.
—Joseph, age 22 (USA)
Negative—OK, I know I haven’t seen Avatar: “The Last Airbender” yet, but I know enough from the title, it’s not something a Christian should see. I actually was thinking about seeing this movie myself when this happened: One day while doing homework I had to look up certain words in the dictionary, as part of the homework. I was looking for a different word when the Holy Spirit called my attention to the word avatar in the dictionary. It was as follows: the descent of a deity to the Earth in an incarnate form or some manifest shape; the incarnation of a god. So, it’s basically saying Aang is God, and that is idolatry. Please, don’t watch this movie.
—Alyssa, age 14 (USA)
Neutral—I’ve been a fan of the “Avatar” series for quite some time, and I was excited at the prospect of a movie rendition. Unfortunately, this film was a bit of a let down, not morally, but cinematically. With a strong fan base, good story, great sets, costumes and special effects, competent actors and a famous director, the movie had everything going for it, but it fell short.

As a writer, I think that the script, screenplay, and plot were the biggest problems in this movie. If these three things had been improved, the film could have been awesome. First of all, the script was really, really weak. The words came across sounding trite and shallow. I don’t think the actors were to blame; the script just should have been a lot tighter. Then was the actual screenplay—a lot of the action sequences, instead of being fast-paced and dazzling, just come across as sluggish and delayed. There were several moments when Katara is doing something dangerous and her older brother just stands there, yelling for her to come back. This doesn’t really fit with his protective persona. Again, I don’t think this was the actors” fault; it was the writer’s fault.

The last weak point was the plot. Because this movie follows the first season of the TV show, the plot spans a wide amount of story and action. This didn’t have to be a problem, but the problem arose when there was no definite path that the movie took. It just seemed like the characters and the story were wandering aimlessly to and fro, saving people then fighting soldiers then learning to control water. It got confusing and a little boring.

Morally, the movie was fine. Since it’s set in a fantasy world, there is no language, and anything sensual is reserved to a quick, clean kiss. Violence is by no means gory; it’s more stylistic.

Spiritually, while I don’t necessarily like the Eastern Mystical references, I am able to ignore them because to me this was a fantasy movie. I know that Buddhism, Hinduism, etc. are real false, un-Godly religions, but this series and movie is set in a fictional world, with fictional animals and countries, and a blend of several different religions. So I choose to treat it as fantasy.

In the end, this was a so-so movie. It could have been so much better; it had so much potential, but it fell flat on its face. For older kids who just want a diversion; however, it’s fine. I hope that any possible sequels will be an improvement.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 2
—Hannah A., age 17 (USA)
Comments from non-viewers
Negative—I took my sons, aged 9 and 11 to see “The Last Airbender.” I knew they had watched the series on TV, so thought they would enjoy the movie. After watching for 15 minutes, a feeling of dread came over me, and I knew this movie was not appropriate. I simply told them that I did not think the movie was in line with our Christian faith, and they left the cinema, no arguments. My older son told me he, too, had felt uncomfortable with the references to the spirit world.
—Amanda, age 41 (South Africa)