We went to see the new Batman movie and I noticed small children in the row in front of us. I would guess they were between the ages of 4-8. It really bothered me because the movie was pretty violent. Should children that age see that movie?
No, Ne, Niet, Ni, Non, Neit, Nein. The Dark Knight Rises is rated PG-13 for a reason. The reason is that developmentally, children, especially the ages that you mentioned, often cannot tell the difference between fantasy and reality. They get scared. Images stay in their heads. They fully expect to see the bad guys in their driveway when they get home. They have nightmares.
I know, I know--all you have to do is watch TV for an evening between 8 and 9 p.m. and you get to see all the violence there is. The difference is that movies are in your face, larger than life--the washing machine isn't going in the background, your brother isn't bonking you with a toy. It's dark, suddenly lots of bad things are possible and dad is no match for a guy that an army can't kill.
Bottom line: Get a sitter. Wait until you can get the DVD and watch it at home with the little ones are asleep. It is just not okay to take a small child to a scary movie. It's either selfish or lazy but either way, there is no good excuse for doing it.