Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

MPAA Rating: PG

Entertainment: +3 1/2

Content: -3

Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe) returns to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft for Wizards along with his best friends Ron Weasley (Rupert Grint) and Hermione Granger (Emma Watson) in this fantasy adventure film. Harry hones his skills and gains confidence as a wizard and also seems to be the sole focus of an escaped prisoner from Azkaban, named Sirius Black (Gary Oldman). Black was imprisoned for the death of Harrys parents. It is believed that Harry is destined for a similar fate, if Black finds him. The ghostly prison keepers, called Dementors, have rarely allowed someone to escape Azkaban, and they are not forgiving as they seek to punish Black for his stealthy evasion. These creatures are quite adept at scaring Harry and his fellow students as well. Faithful followers of J.K. Rowlings work will undoubtedly find The Prisoner of Azkaban to be the greatest film yet.

There are some wonderfully creative fantasy elements in Rowlings work, but each Harry Potter movie seems to get darker and more frightening and violent than its predecessor. In Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, the Dementors are faceless creatures with scary mouths and claw-type hands that feed on happy people, leaving them in great sadness with the chill of death. The pain of others becomes the Dementors power. Spirit inhabitation occurs in this film as a demonic voice is spoken through one of the teachers. Seeing the future through a crystal ball, palm reading and tea-leaf reading, as well as visualizing the past through the memories and voices of those who have died are both presented in this film. These are things that the Bible speaks against (Deuteronomy 18:1012, Leviticus 20:67). Although it is a highly entertaining and well-made film, Preview cannot recommend it because of the emphasis on divination, incantations and dark themes.

Preview Reviewer: Brian Hughes
Warner Brothers

The following categories contain objective listings of film content which contribute to the subjective numeric Content ratings posted to the left and on the Home page.

Crude Language: Few (2) times mild (hell 1, damn 1

Obscene Language: None, although British slang is used (the term bitch is used one time to describe a female dog, but American children may only recognize the derogatory meaning; bloody is used 3 times and can be interpreted in British slang as the f-word; rubbish was used 3 times and could be interpreted in British slang as the s-word. Americans do not know these words as crude or obscene, but they may offend those with a British education.)

Profanity: None

Violence: Many times mild (boy intentionally uses magic against an adult relative causing her to bloat like a balloon and fly into the sky, boy threatens to use magic against an adult family member if he doesnt leave him alone, shoving and struggling between children, children are hit in the head with stones, riders are knocked off their broomsticks and fall to the ground during a chase scene); moderate (an executioners ax is used without blood shown, a horse-bird called a hypocrite is aggressive and claws a boys arm, a tree grabs and thrashes people aggressively, a book on monsters is itself a monster and is quite aggressive leaving shredded paper all about and would bite people, children are made to face those things that they greatly fear including a giant cobra and giant black-widow spider); strong (a scary ghostlike creature called a Dementor seems to draw the spirit out of its prey, a werewolf seeks to kill characters in this film, wizards wands shoot power bolts and are used to harm others, dead rodents are used to feed the hypocrite creature)

Sex: None

Nudity: Once mild (a boy magically has his pants drop down leaving him standing in his boxer shorts)

Sexual Dialogue/Gesture: Once mild (discussion about a female dogs ability to reproduce)

Drugs: Once mild (drinking of brandy at a family dinner)

Other: Ghosts, witches, magical effects and strange creatures are used creatively in this fantasy action film, and they can inspire imagination in much the same way as fairy tales and fables; these same elements also have a dark side and produce fear in the midst of violence, evil and death; grotesque creatures (Dementors, a werewolf and shape shifters) are scary as are shrunken heads that talk; the practice of incantations, divination, spirit inhabitation and spirit stealing are portrayed in this film

Running Time: 138 minutes
Intended Audience: 10-year-old children to adults

Click HERE for a PRINTER-FRIENDLY version of this review.