Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince a sensational piece of gothic suspense

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      Starring Daniel Radcliffe, Michael Gambon, and Emma Watson. Rated PG. Now playing.

      “These girls, they’re going to kill me,” complains Ron Weasley after a bout of near-fatal attraction in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. Don’t worry, there’s no death by snogging in this sixth—and possibly best—film in the series based on J.K. Rowling’s tales of her boy wizard. Where peril does lurk, more sinister than ever, is in ominously rustling fields of grass, in a dark underground lake, and down the shadowy corridors of Hogwarts. Yes, the danger feels all grown-up and all the more frightening in this Potter. So is anyone surprised that some growing up has happened elsewhere too?

      Watch the trailer for Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.

      Well, yeah—at first it’s a tad startling to see the turrets of everybody’s favourite academy of magic looking like the parking lot at Make-out Point. Happily, we don’t see any creepy tongue between, say, Weasley (Rupert Grint) and Hermione Granger (Emma Watson) or the various other young ladies trying to put a spell on him, literally. This is tongue-planted-in-cheek teen romance: chaste, funny, equipped with love potions.

      Although Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) still likes Ginny Weasley (Bonnie Wright), adolescent angst isn’t yet his biggest problem. Professor Albus Dumbledore (a scene-snatching Michael Gambon) recruits him for a quest that may hold the keys to destroying that deadliest of wizards, Voldemort. Standing in his path is the deceptively dotty professor Horace Slughorn (Jim Broadbent), good/evil switch-hitter Professor Severus Snape (Alan Rickman, ever blackly snide), and perma-foe Draco Malfoy (Tom Felton). The death eaters and water zombies don’t help either.

      Thanks to stunning CGI work, Harry’s world has never looked more beautiful or more menacing. But director David Yates and predominant Potter scribe Steve Kloves have surpassed their landscape in crafting this rather sensational piece of gothic suspense, complete with killer one-liners. Growing up is grand if it means hearing Dumbledore tell Harry “You need a shave.”