Iron Man 3. Thunderous explosions, dizzying falls and much destruction of property figure in this third installment of the movies based on the comic book character Tony Stark, the rich inventor of the Iron Man warrior suit. Teens will savor the witty mayhem. The villains now looking to destroy Stark are a scientist gone power mad, Aldrich Killian, and his apparent boss, the Mandarin, a creepy terrorist with a ponytail. After his near-death experiences in “The Avengers,” Stark has trouble sleeping. Though in a happy romance with his corporate whiz Pepper Potts, he’s frustrated that the government won’t let him in on efforts to stop the Mandarin, who already has killed many innocents. Scientist Killian has a process that can transform his thugs into indestructible fighters. When injured, their bodies turn molten, then regenerate. The action is big and bold in 3-D, but the best fun emerges from little smart-alecky scenes between Stark and a kid named Harley whom he befriends after crash-landing near a small town.
THE BOTTOM LINE: Most of the mayhem, from explosions to fistfights, is thunderous and destructive but not graphic. A group of people are sucked out of a damaged Air Force One and seem to free-fall to their deaths. A key character falls into a raging fire. Another chugs a lot of beer. There is very little profanity. Tony Stark engages in lots of mildly naughty verbal sexual innuendo. A flashback implies he spends the night with a fellow scientist, Maya.
Midnight’s Children. With its heady blend of history, drama, atmospherics and magic, “Midnight’s Children,” which takes place in India and Pakistan between 1917 and 1977, will be a lot for most high-schoolers to take in. It contains too much mature material for middle-schoolers. But for those interested in history and other cultures, the film tells an often transporting tale of a protagonist and a family buffeted by history and love lost and found. It is based on author Salman Rushdie’s beloved 1981 novel. The narrator and protagonist is Saleem Sinai, born at the stroke of midnight in August 1947, when India threw off British colonial rule and split from the largely Muslim regions, which became Pakistan. Saleem tells the roiling tale of his Indian Muslim family, starting with his grandparents in 1917. He explains that he was born to a beggar couple but was switched at birth by a nurse. Throughout his upper-middle-class childhood, Saleem communes magically in his head with other children born at the hour of independence.
THE BOTTOM LINE: The film depicts war violence such as bombings, torturous interrogations and the brutal bulldozing of a slum full of people in a fairly intense, yet nongraphic way. There are muted sexual situations and brief semi-nudity.
The Reluctant Fundamentalist. Part thriller, part character study, this film deals in mature themes but is a relatively understated R-rated film. High-schoolers 16 and older interested in the wider world and America’s place in it may find the film intriguing. A wary young Pakistani college professor named Changez meets in a Lahore cafe with Bobby, a U.S. journalist. A visiting American professor at the university where Changez teaches has been kidnapped by Islamist radicals, and Bobby wants information. What unfolds is the convoluted story, told by Changez in flashback, of how he went to Princeton, was hired as a financial analyst at a big Wall Street firm and had big success downsizing companies. Then the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, happen. Changez gets hassled and humiliated by police on New York streets, by security at the airport and others. The film cuts back and forth between his long backstory and the interview with Bobby. Misunderstandings lead to violence and regret at the film’s climax.