Ice Age: Continental Drift (PG). Continuing the “Ice Age” tradition of wreaking havoc with science, this fourth episode implies that the continents we have today broke apart from a single land mass over a few days. The prehistoric squirrel Scrat seems to cause the breakup after trying to crack open his acorn. It’s an amusing gimmick, though what follows in this animated 3-D confection is harrowing enough at times to push the PG envelope. Manny the Woolly Mammoth, his mate, Ellie, their daughter, Peaches, the saber-toothed tiger Diego and the sloth Sid are doing okay. But when the land breaks up, Manny, Sid and Diego are separated from Ellie and Peaches. A huge storm carries the guys out to sea on an ice floe. They encounter the bloodthirsty orangutan Captain Gutt and his saber-toothed enforcer.
THE BOTTOM LINE: For children younger than 7, there are a lot of potentially disturbing images, especially in 3-D: the land and icebergs breaking apart; the storm and capsizing waves; and sea sirens who turn into monsters. The violence and threats by Captain Gutt and crew seem intense for a PG. The pirates use sharp weapons made from shells. There are mild curses, such as “holy crab!” and “screw-up.” Mild sexual tension is implied. Sid eats a bad berry and is paralyzed briefly. A funny short before the movie, “The Simpsons: The Longest Daycare” (PG), features a scowling bully.
Katy Perry: Part of Me (PG). Tween and teen girls are the most likely audience for this neon-colored 3-D “documentary.” The film includes apparently candid moments in the life of Katy Perry during her 2011 world tour. She had invited the filmmakers along on the tour but couldn’t have known that her unlikely long-distance marriage to British comic Russell Brand would disintegrate. We get glimpses of Brand and see Perry weeping. She seems nice, and we see home movies of young Katy singing gospel and learn about her childhood with Pentecostal evangelist parents.
THE BOTTOM LINE: Perry and her entourage are never shown behaving badly or imbibing. There is brief toilet humor.
The Dark Knight Rises. 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 will surely transfix high-schoolers. The PG-13 rating seems wrong. Much about the movie strays into R territory with a dark, apocalyptic tone. Having taken the blame for crimes committed in the last film, Bruce Wayne and his crime-fighting persona have gone underground. Gotham City is corrupt. Wayne’s butler, Alfred, urges him to get back into the world, not as Batman, but as himself. So he goes to a charity ball and allies with philanthropist Miranda Tate to power Gotham with clean fusion energy. A hulking, vengeful masked villain named Bane and his thugs hijack a plane and a Russian nuclear physicist and head for Gotham. They steal the fusion reactor. Soon Wayne has little choice but to don the bat suit and fire 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. 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 badly disfigured face. There is one subtly implied overnight tryst.
The Amazing Spider-Man. Most teens will get thrills, though some middle-schoolers may find the mayhem a little daunting. Peter is a science-loving high school student who has lived with his Uncle Ben and Aunt May since his parents disappeared. A genetically modified spider bites Peter, and he develops super-strength. When his beloved uncle is killed by a robber, Peter starts going after bad guys (the Lizard among them) incognito and invents the Spider-Man persona.
The bottom line: The rubbery Lizard isn’t particularly horrible, even in 3-D. The climactic high-flying battles are more harrowing. There are head-banging fights and harsh bullying. Uncle Ben’s death is upsetting. The script features rare strong language and mild sexual innuendo. A few scenes with spiders and lizards will not thrill phobics.
Trishna. Explicit sexual situations, and the sense that some of them amount to little more than rape, 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, based on Thomas Hardy’s “Tess of the D’Urbervilles” (now set in 21st-century India). Trishna is a beautiful young woman from a poor family. She attracts the attentions of the callow Jay. He gets her a job as a waitress at one of his father’s 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. Jay finds Trishna and takes her back with him. They live together and he introduces her to his Bollywood friends. Jay’s “love” turns controlling and brutal.
THE BOTTOM LINE: Explicit sexual situations, brief nudity, an abortion (not shown) and disturbing scenes of violence and suicide earn the R rating. An accident is realistic, though the wounds are not graphic.
Horwitz is a freelance writer.