NEW THIS WEEK:
-- AN IMPRESSIVELY EPIC FINALE TO THE CHRIS NOLAN/CHRISTIAN BALE "BATMAN" TRILOGY, THOUGH, A TAD TOO LONG 'N' LURID:
"THE DARK KNIGHT RISES" PG-13 -- Circuitously plotted and heavy with echoes of 21st-century terrorism, weapons of mass destruction and official lies, this big finish (or is it?) to the "Batman" trilogy by director Christopher Nolan will surely transfix high-schoolers, despite its nearly three-hour length. As with "The Dark Knight" (PG-13, 2008), the PG-13 rating seems wrong. Much about the movie strays into R territory -- not with graphic violence, but with a dark, apocalyptic tone. Nolan and his star Christian Bale aren't comic-booking; they're saying existential things about the modern world. Having taken the blame as Batman for crimes committed by Harvey Dent/Two-Face (Aaron Eckhart) in the last film, Bruce Wayne (Bale) and his crime-fighting persona have gone underground and into a depressive funk. Gotham City is corrupt, despite the best efforts of police Commissioner Gordon (Gary Oldman). Wayne's butler Alfred (Michael Caine) urges him to get back into the world, not as Batman, but as himself. So Wayne goes to a charity ball and allies with philanthropist Miranda Tate (Marion Cotillard) to power Gotham with clean fusion energy. A hulking, vengeful masked villain named Bane (Tom Hardy) and his thugs hijack a plane and a Russian nuclear physicist, and head for Gotham. They steal the fusion reactor. Meanwhile, jewel thief Selina Kyle/Catwoman (Anne Hathaway) steals not only Wayne's mother's pearls, but his own fingerprints, which she sells to his business rivals who are in league with Bane. Soon Wayne, collaborating with the president of his company, Lucius Fox (Morgan Freeman), dons the bat suit and fires up the Batmobile.
THE BOTTOM LINE: The film is too full of realistic death and destruction for most middle-schoolers. SPOILER ALERT: A terrorist act causes buildings, bridges and streets to explode, trapping Gothamites on their island and threatening nuclear annihilation. Other action sequences include bone-crushing fights and heavy gun battles as well as explosions and chases. The villain Bane wears a creepy black rubber mask over his nose and mouth. Scenes in an underground prison somewhere in the Middle East are gruesome without being graphic. Flashbacks of the villain Two-Face show part of his face badly disfigured. The language is generally non-profane. There is one subtly implied overnight tryst.
-- A CLASSIC TALE OF SOCIAL AND SEXUAL EXPLOITATION, SET IN MODERN INDIA:
"TRISHNA" R, Limited Release -- British director Michael Winterbottom has updated Thomas Hardy's 1891 novel "Tess of the D'Urbervilles" and transplanted the somber story to 21st- century India with moving results. Explicit sexual situations, and the sense that some of them amount to little more than rape of a woman afraid to say "no," make "Trishna" a true R and too adult for under-17s. Still, college students who appreciate literature and fine acting may be touched by this tale of insurmountable class difference, passivity and exploitation. It's relentlessly grim, but gripping. Trishna (Freida Pinto of "Slumdog Millionaire," R, 2008; "Rise of the Planet of the Apes," PG-13, 2011) is a beautiful and innocent young woman from a poor family. She attracts the attentions of Jay (Riz Ahmed), a callow, British-educated young Indian man. Jay gets her a job as a waitress at one of his father's (Roshan Seth) luxury hotels and treats her kindly at first. Soon, though, he seduces her. Filled with shame, she flees to her parents' home, learns she's pregnant, and gets an abortion. Her father stops speaking to her. Jay comes to find Trishna and takes her back to Mombai with him, unaware of the abortion. They live together and he introduces her to his Bollywood friends. Jay's "love" turns controlling and brutal -- a kind of enslavement for Trishna.
THE BOTTOM LINE: Explicit sexual situations, brief nudity, an implied abortion and disturbing scenes of violence and suicide earn the R rating. A truck accident is realistic, though the wounds are not graphic.
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-- FINE FOR KIDS 7 AND OLDER:
(c) 2012, Washington Post Writers Group.