It’s been almost eight years since the first of the Harry Potter tales was consigned to celluloid. Over those eight years, the quality of the films has remained pretty much steady. This is the sixth and penultimate iteration in the series, and as such serves as a prelude to what is sure to be a climactic final instalment. A large part of that stall setting comes in the form of the romantic attachments and general hormonal nature of the characters, depicted by a cast now around its twenties.

How you feel the pubescent dynamics – between Harry (Daniel Radcliffe), Ron (Rupert Grint), Hermione (Emma Watson), Ginny (Bonnie Wright) and Lavender Brown (Jesse Cave) – work isn’t necessarily essential to the enjoyment you’ll get from the story, as the narrative maintains as much pace as ever across the series of books. Voldemort’s (Ralph Fiennes) efforts to dominate and destroy both the muggle and wizard world are becoming ever more desperate and making the previously secure Hogwarts increasingly dangerous. The teaming of Dumbledore and Potter is one that we’ve seen before, but the Half Blood Price sees the pair link together in a more dynamic capacity to weaken Voldemort.

This iteration deals greatly with the origins and motivations of Voldemort. Having split his soul in the pursuit of immortality, the forces of good are tasked to identify and find six horcruxes, many of which are referenced or seen in the previous films. With the aid of a new character to the series, Horace Slughorn (Jim Broadbent), Dumbledore and Potter move a step closer to the final battle with Voldemort, but not without cost to all at Hogwarts.

Rowling’s sixth book has a multitude of revelations for those who haven’t read the tome, including the identity of the titular Half Blood Prince and the machinations of Draco Malfoy (Tom Felton). The more human side of the story covering the interplay of burgeoning romances doesn’t interfere with what is essentially an action extravaganza, making it a great all round viewing experience.

While the special effects, comical interludes and smiles are all present, the Half Blood Prince shows us a darker side of Hogwarts in the run up to the final piece of J.K. Rowling’s modern classic. Young adults will no doubt find the cleverly woven character relationships somewhat closer to their hearts than most, but not to the detriment of the overall story. The Half Blood Prince can be seen not only as part of a seven-strong series of books, but as a prologue to the Deathly Hallows. Obviously a must see for the fans, and one which, if you were disappointed by the lengthy delays last year, nothing will keep you from enjoying.