Magic feeling: Harry Potter's glasses fog up whenever he gets near Ron's sister Ginny

"Oh to be young and to feel love's keen sting," says Dumbledore in Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince.

It's film number six and Harry Potter and his friends have become hormonal hobbits. Who cares about Lord Voldemort and his grisly band of death eaters and their plan to murder Dumbledore and demolish Hogwarts, when love is turning you into a gurning jackrabbit?

Hermione Granger (Emma Watson) has a crush on bungling Ron Weasley (Rupert Grint), who has fallen for a blushing young wizard; Harry's glasses fog up whenever he gets near Ron's sister Ginny (Bonnie Wright) while all the girls attending the class of new teacher Horace Slughorn (Jim Broadbent) get busy making love potions that have the toxicity of horse tranquilliser – it's about as close to Rohypnol in a teen film as you are going to get.

Director David Yates' second film is a much more confident fit than the unwieldy sprawl of 2007's Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.

The series' noirish mood deepens but the film's pacing over 153 minutes is a smooth ride. Yates' camera glides through the film with cool control and there are action sequences that are simply wizardly, though the violence is more brutal: Quiddich crunches like American football, while Draco Malfoy (Tom Felton), dressed in Armani black and looking more like a young Terrence Stamp, stomps his boot into Harry's face.

Poor Harry. Everybody keeps reminding him he is the chosen one. He starts to get cocky. Which means he's going to have a fall: the ending, in which Harry comes face to face with hubris, is unresolved and could leave the less-than-diehards feeling like it comes up short.

Helena Bonham Carter as Bellatrix Lestrange is a grandstanding gothic witch. Alan Rickman's Severus Snape slithers about the place duplicitously. While Luna Lovegood, played by Irish girl Evanna Lynch, is one slice short of a space cake.