(Mild spoilers only for those who haven't read the book.)
To put it simply, this is a much better movie than Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. The effects are tighter, the dialogue is less hokey, and the casting is even more superb. In addition to a generally slicker production, the movie is also much more dark and violent: besides some really creepy shit that I'd rather not talk about (yeah, I'm arachnophobic), there is a fair amount of blood for a PG movie. (I heard that AOL Time-Warner was scared shitless that it would get a PG-13 rating.) I'm not looking forward to taking my 8-year-old brother to see it.

The effects, as I mentioned, are far superior to those in the first movie; however, they are still somewhat inconsistent in quality. Dobby the House Elf is a pretty damn good CG character who looks a lot like Yoda on a diet. The rest of the monsters range from stupid to stupefying: a giant spider looks like a puppet, but his minions are flawlessly animated, and while some shots of a basilisk are decent CG, others could be latex and chicken wire.

Jason Isaacs was excellent as Lucius Malfoy, Kenneth Branagh was perfect as Gilderoy Lockhart, and I look forward to seeing more of Robert Hardy as Cornelius Fudge in future movies. All the returning cast was as good as ever, especially Richard Harris, and with the exception of Daniel Radcliffe, who is a pretty poor actor.

There are some scary and some startling moments in this movie, but I generally recommend it to everyone over the age of say, six or seven. Its somewhat darker content, combined with its higher quality, made it much more enjoyable for me than the first.

I think you'll agree.

        | Nebuchadnezzar Seal of Approval |
        |               :)                |

Random note: I'm pretty sure director Columbus was supposed to have a cameo somewhere...I'm just not sure where it was. I sure didn't catch it.