Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince is the sixth installment in the Potter series, but this franchise is no longer child’s play.

Filled with heightened stakes, raging hormones, mini make-out sessions, the death of a beloved character and scenes that will have the audience jumping out of their seats, the Half-Blood Prince is a dark, deeply cinematic outing that matures with its original audience and has great appeal for even non-Potter fans.

In case you weren’t one of the multi-millions to read J.K. Rowling’s book, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince begins as Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) embarks on his sixth year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. With the Death Eaters on the loose following the return of the dark lord, Lord Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes, though he doesn’t make an appearance in this film), Hogwarts is no longer a place of sanctuary. Dumbledore (Michael Gambon) has been on a mission to discover the key to Voldemort’s destruction, and it all seems to lie in the return of former Hogwarts Potions Professor, Horace Slughorn (Jim Broadbent in his first Potter outing).

OK, on second thought, maybe for those without a bevy of Potter knowledge, it seems rather convoluted but I have to admit, I am not a major Potter fan. I’ve never read any of the books and have seen most of the movies on TV, yet I was still able not only to follow this film but to invest in it and get lost in the enchantment of Rowling’s world as conceived by director David Yates and screenwriter Steve Kloves.

Yates, who also helmed The Order of the Phoenix and is currently lensing the two-part finale, The Deathly Hallows, is a director capable of tremendous scope and beauty. His approach is operatically sinister with long sweeping shots and cameras peering down claustrophobic alleys and hallways. The film is beautiful to behold and paced with an even, steady driving force by Kloves.

Radcliffe, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint have matured in their roles with ease and grace. Radcliffe’s ability to captivate an audience was apparent from the first film, but age and experience have ripened him into a capable and compelling leading man.

While some might find the film to be filler on the way to The Deathly Hallows, Yates and company made a movie that will delight Potter fans and earn them legions of new followers.