Plugged In exists to shine a light on the world of popular entertainment while giving you and your family the essential tools you need to understand, navigate and impact the culture in which we live. Through reviews, articles and discussions, we want to spark intellectual thought, spiritual growth and a desire to follow the command of Colossians 2:8: "See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ."


Family uses Plugged In as a ‘significant compass’

"I am at a loss for words to adequately express how much it means to my husband and me to know that there is an organization like Focus that is rooting for us. Just today I was reading Psalm 37 and thinking about how your ministry provides ways to 'dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.' We have two teenagers and an 8-year-old in our household...Plugged In has become a significant compass for our family. All three of our kids are dedicated to their walk with Christ but they still encounter challenges. Thanks for all of your research and persistence in helping us navigate through stormy waters."

Plugged In helps college student stand-up for his belief

"Thanks for the great job you do in posting movie and television reviews online. I’m a college freshman and I recently had a confrontational disagreement with my English professor regarding an R-rated film. It is her favorite movie and she wanted to show it in class. I went to your Web site to research the film’s content. Although I had not seen the movie myself, I was able to make an educated argument against it based on the concerns you outlined. The prof said that she was impressed by my stand and decided to poll the whole class and give us a choice. We overwhelmingly voted to watch a G-rated movie instead! I’ve learned that I can trust your site and I will be using it a lot in the future.”

Plugged In brings ‘Sanity and Order’ to Non-believer

“Even though I don’t consider myself a Christian, I find your Plugged In Web site useful and thought-provoking. No one reviews movies like you do. Instead of being judgmental, you put entertainment ‘on trial.’ After presenting the evidence, you allow the jury of your readers to decide for themselves what they should do. In my opinion, you bring sanity and order to the wild world of modern day entertainment. Keep up the good work!”

Mom thinks Plugged In is the ‘BEST Christian media review site’

"Our family doesn't go to the movies until we go online and check out your assessment of a given film. I think this is the BEST Christian media review website that I've found, and I recommend it to my family and friends. Keep up the good work!"


Our hope is that whether you're a parent, youth leader or teen, the information and tools at Plugged In will help you and your family make appropriate media decisions. We are privileged to do the work we do, and are continually thankful for the generosity and support from you, our loyal readers, listeners and friends.

We hope this review was both interesting and useful. Please share it with family and friends who would benefit from it as well.

Game Review

Snap to it, LEGO-boy! Don't fall to pieces on me. Hey! Leggo my LEGO.

There. Now that I've purged myself of those weak LEGO quips, I won't have to try to cram any more into the rest of this review. Fear not, you cubish-quip haters! We're going to get right down to the nuts and blocks of LEGO Harry Potter: Years 1-4.

If you've ever played any of LEGO's movie-adaptation games (among others, we've reviewed  LEGO Indiana Jones: The Original Adventures and LEGO Star Wars II: The Original Trilogy), you have a pretty good idea how all of them work. The games condense their subject matter (in this case, the first four Harry Potter installments) into a series of comedically wordless cutscenes that keep the story moving forward as the game unfolds.

Here, the opening moments show a LEGO version of Professor Dumbledore dropping baby Harry off at the Dursley home. And then, poof, Harry is older and his adoptive family is being deluged with a truckload of invitations to Hogwarts—flying in from every window, chimney and letter slot. Voilà! Instant intro to young Harry's wand-waving school life.

Yes, it does help to actually know who Dumbledore is—and who Harry, Ron and Hermione are, for that matter—but the game lets you get by pretty well even if you don't. (If that's possible after a gazillion books and a bazillion movie tickets have been snapped up all around the globe over the last decade!) The LEGO characters never speak, but melodramatic movements such as the wringing of plastic hands or Hermione's painted-on disapproving frown can, amazingly, speak volumes.

Fire Burn and Cauldron Chuckle
It's in between these cute story placeholders that the gameplay happens. The majority of it is exploring the environment and piecing together LEGO blocks in various puzzle-solving exercises. Accompanied by the movies' evocative soundtrack, you begin play as either Harry, Ron or Hermione as they're being sent on missions to such locales as the village of Hogsmeade, the Hogwarts school's halls and dungeons, or the Forbidden Forest. Each place has its share of objects that can be pulled, cranked, puzzled out or zapped with a wand to yield scores of scattering LEGO studs.

These collectable studs substitute for currency and can be used to buy everything from new playable characters (including Dumbledore and the evil magician Voldemort) to goofy spells not generally taught at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry (such as turning somebody's hair into flowers).

That brings us to the magic part of this cubed equation. Just because these little guys' world snaps together doesn't mean the plastic tubs they came from aren't half full of wizarding tricks—the majority of which are focused on the wands each character carries. Point the wand. Push a button. Make the magic happen. (The absence of talking removes the possibility of incantations.)

The list of wand-centric spells you learn includes most of the Latin-sounding enchantments from the books and films, including the levitating Wingardium Leviosa, the immobilizing Immobilus and the comical Riddikulus. In addition to those wand zaps, each character has his or her own special magical strength. Harry can use his father's invisibility cloak to slip by guards, for instance. Ron can control his pet rat, Scabbers, sending it skittering through pipes and mazes. Hermione can open special bookcases to, um, fulfill her book-loving desires, I guess.

Through it all, the game's creators make every effort to disarm and downplay the darker magical scariness—such as the creepy dementors and cobwebby graveyards—by playing out the shuddery goings-on in as goofy and amusing a way as possible. For example, in one scene Ron lets a ghostly boggart out of its box and it transforms into a giant spider with a key in its mouth—that you need. Ron zaps the critter with a Riddikulus spell and suddenly it's wearing roller skates, its legs slip-sliding in every direction.

That humor, though, sometimes crosses over into toilet-lite territory. When Harry and Ron confront a giant troll in the dormitory bathroom, the big guy is just coming out of a stall with a gaseous cloud trailing behind him. And, later, Hagrid is spied shoveling brown LEGO blocks from behind a unicorn.

Do LEGOs Muddle the Message for Muggles?
Combat is also given the endearingly blocky treatment. In fact, it's kept to a minimum even by LEGO video game standards. When there's a big boss battle to blast through, the worst outcome—for your hero or the bad guy—is to break up into a shower of LEGO blocks.

In one of the most harrowing parts of the movie series, Harry's friend Cedric is killed by Voldemort. In the game's reenactment, Cedric crumbles into a pile of blocks. At first Cedric's father is upset, but then the ever-wise Dumbledore pulls out a diagram showing how to reassemble a LEGO person. And all is well in LEGOLAND once more.

As we've said in past reviews, then, the most potentially problematic part of a LEGO game isn't any nasty content in the title itself, but the possibility that it could send young gamers back to the source material. The Harry Potter movies and books, though widely popular, glamorize a certain stylized form of witchcraft and celebrate the occultisms that are tied to it. That alone can be more than enough reason for parents to steer their kids clear of this campy plastic version. And if that is the case for your family, you'll have no trouble understanding the argument that can be made about what happens when you cutesy up witches and wizards: Maybe LEGO hasn't really disarmed them at all, but has instead merely trivialized them, trying to turn something that's actually quite dark and sinister into something fun and frivolous.

Positive Elements

Spiritual Content

Sexual Content

Violent Content

Crude or Profane Language

Drug and Alcohol Content

Other Negative Elements


Pro-social Content

Objectionable Content

Summary Advisory

Plot Summary

Christian Beliefs

Other Belief Systems

Authority Roles



Discussion Topics

Additional Comments/Notes

Episode Reviews



Readability Age Range







Record Label


Wii, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PC


Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment


June 29, 2010

On Video

Year Published



Bob Hoose Trent Hoose

We hope this review was both interesting and useful. Please share it with family and friends who would benefit from it as well.

Get weekly e-news, Culture Clips & more!