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Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban Review

Other Critics provided by Metacritic.com

Critics scores range from 0 to 100, with higher scores indicating more favorable reviews.

  • 5.0
    82

    out of 100

    Metascore®
    Universal acclaim
    based on a weighted average of all
    critic review scores.

  • 83

    out of 100

    Entertainment Weekly Owen Gleiberman

    Shot in spooky gradations of silver and shadow, The Prisoner of Azkaban is the first movie in the series with fear and wonder in its bones, and genuine fun, too.

    Read Full Review

  • 88

    out of 100

    USA Today Claudia Puig

    Who would think Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban could be an art film? Thanks to director Alfonso Cuaron, a dazzling storyteller with a keen eye for whimsical detail, the third film in the Potter franchise is a visual delight.

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  • 90

    out of 100

    Wall Street Journal Joe Morgenstern

    The right word for Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban is wondersful -- as in full of wonders, great and small.

  • 90

    out of 100

    The Hollywood Reporter Michael Rechtshaffen

    A deeper, darker, visually arresting and more emotionally satisfying adaptation of the J.K. Rowling literary phenomenon, achieving the neat trick of remaining faithful to the spirit of the book while at the same time being true to its cinematic self.

    Read Full Review

  • See all Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban reviews at Metacritic.com

For Families provided by Common Sense Media

OK for kids 10+

Fantastic, but kids are older, themes are darker.

What Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this third movie in the fantastic Harry Potter series is growing up with the Hogwarts crew; the themes are darker, the peril is more intense, and the images of some magical creatures are grotesque and Halloween-ish. For most of the school year, Harry believes he is marked for death and stalked by an escaped prisoner. He also battles a creature of kids' worst nightmares: the Dementors are black-robed floating beings that suck out happiness and feed on your worst fears, which is why Harry hears the sound of his mother's last scream when he sees them. While this can be tough for young and sensitive viewers, the bright spot is the Boggart lesson in Defense Against the Dark Arts. Boggarts can turn into what a person fears most, but the kids learn to yell "Ridiculous!" and turn it into something to laugh at.

  • Families can talk about Dumbledore's statement that people can bring light to even the darkest moments. What can you learn from the way Harry and his friends learn to defeat the Boggarts? The Dementors?
  • Older kids and teens could examine all of the Potter movies to see how different directors and cinematographers can take the same characters and settings and convey a different feeling. Notice how the colors and texture of the scenes and the movement of the camera help to create the mood and tell the story.

The good stuff
  • message true3

    Messages: Conquering fear is a huge theme here. Friendship, love, bravery, and loyalty are always major themes in the series. So is the idea of making good choices.

  • rolemodels true3

    Role models: Diverse cast and strong female characters.

What to watch for
  • violence false3

    Violence: Scary images for a PG-rated film. Children are in peril, often at the hands of magical creatures: Dementors (black-robed floating beings that suck the happiness out of people) attack Harry and others, making Harry hear the sound of his mother dying as he passes out; they almost administer "the kiss of death," extracting a character's soul through his mouth. A hippogriff (eagle-horse mix) is provoked and strikes a student; the same creature is executed by a hatchet (heard, not shown). A boggart in a class demonstration changes shape to match what students are most afraid of (and kids learn to fight their fears with laughter). A large dog breaks Ron's leg. Adult characters threaten to kill another. A werewolf chases Harry and Hermione. Harry believes he is marked for death and stalked by a murderer most of the school year.

  • sex false0

    Sex: Some mild flirtations between Ron and Hermione.

  • language false1

    Language: A few "bloody hells" and a "damn."

  • consumerism false3

    Consumerism: While the candy mentioned wasn't originally real, it is now: Bertie Bott's Every Flavor Beans, Chocolate Frogs, Jelly Slugs, and more. And then there are the action figures, Lego playsets, wands, Band Aids... you name it.

  • drugsalcoholtobacco false2

    Drinking, drugs and smoking: Butterbeer is introduced (a magical-world drink with a pinch of alcohol) and the kids go to a pub in Hogsmeade.

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