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It quickly transpires that a dangerous and enigmatic wizard, Sirius Black, has escaped Azkaban prison and is believed to be searching for Harry. Legend has it that Black was responsible for leading Lord Voldemort to Harry's parents and ultimately to their subsequent deaths; it is also believed that he is determined to kill Harry too.
PROFANITY: A few mild profanities. SEX/NUDITY: None. VIOLENCE: Nothing too graphic, but there are numerous fights involving children and monsters. DRUGS/ALCOHOL: Some alcohol. ACTION: A number of chases and fights. COMEDY: Physical humor; wisecracks; sight gags.
The above rating is an average of the critic reviews below.
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Berardinelli, Internet CriticFull Review Good The recent bankability of fantasy has resulted in a large number of copycat possibilities entering the production pipeline. With both "The Lord of the Rings" and the "Harry Potter" movies proving to be solid box-office performers, there's little question that the genre is here to stay. ...If the filmmakers continue to keep the quality level high, there will be plenty of pleasurable hours ahead. "Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban" proves that a new director with a different perspective can freshen a series that could otherwise resort to stale repetition.
Roger EbertFull Review Very Good Is "Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban" as good as the first two films? Not quite. It doesn't have that sense of joyously leaping through a clockwork plot, and it needs to explain more than it should. But the world of Harry Potter remains delightful, amusing and sophisticated; the challenge in the films ahead will be to protect its fragile innocence and not descend into the world of conventional teen thrillers.
USA TodayFull Review Very Good 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. It also has plenty of heart. Cuaron is not afraid to make a darker film and tackle painful emotions involving the bespectacled hero.
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OPINION OVERVIEW The following is the original "What's Worth
Watching" write-up for this movie.
We collected 268 moviegoer opinions. As expected, the opinions are extremely high. Nearly everyone under age thirty rated it either "Fantastic" or "Excellent." Adults weren't too far behind. Also, gender didn't seem to make much difference. Males and females enjoyed it about the same.
It's easy to HIGHLY RECOMMEND "HARRY POTTER AND THE PRISONER OF AZKABAN."
Thirteen year-old Harry Potter (DANIEL RADCLIFFE) has reluctantly spent yet another summer with the Dursleys, his dismal relatives, "behaving himself" and not practicing any magic. That is, until Uncle Vernon's bullying sister, Aunt Marge (PAM FERRIS), comes to visit. Aunt Marge has always been particularly horrible to Harry and this time pushes him so far that he "accidentally" causes her to inflate like a monstrous balloon and drift away!
Fearing punishment from his Aunt and Uncle (and repercussions from Hogwarts and the Ministry of Magic, which strictly forbids students from using magic in the non-magic world), Harry escapes into the night.
He is promptly picked up by the Knight Bus, a fantastic triple-decker purple vehicle that whisks him off to the Leaky Cauldron pub. Upon arrival, Harry is met by the Minister of Magic, Cornelius Fudge, who inexplicably doesn't punish the teenager for his errant wizardry and instead insists that he spend the night at the Leaky Cauldron before heading back to Hogwarts for his third year of study.
It quickly transpires that a dangerous and enigmatic wizard, Sirius Black (GARY OLDMAN), has escaped Azkaban prison and is believed to be searching for Harry. Legend has it that Black was responsible for leading Lord Voldemort to Harry's parents and ultimately to their subsequent deaths; it is also believed that he is determined to kill Harry too.
To make matters worse, Hogwarts is playing host to the Dementors, the terrifying Azkaban guards who are stationed at the school in an attempt to protect the students from Black. The Dementors suck the souls from their victims and, unfortunately for Harry, they seem to have more of an effect on him than the rest of his classmates. Their ominous presence chills the young wizard to the bone, rendering him virtually helpless, until Professor Lupin (DAVID THEWLIS), the new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher, trains Harry in how to use the Patronus Charm to shield himself from the Dementors' paralyzing effects.
Meanwhile, Harry's third year at Hogwarts is filled with exciting new creatures like Buckbeak, a magical half-horse, half-eagle creature called a "Hippogriff"; eerie encounters with Divination Professor Sibyll Trelawney (EMMA THOMPSON) and the omen of death known as the "Grim"; and breathtaking adventures, including clandestine visits to the wizarding village of Hogsmeade, deciphering secrets hidden in the enchanted Marauder's Map, and a terrifying trip to the Shrieking Shack (the most haunted dwelling in Britain).