“Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince” opens Wednesday with a huge advance ticket sale and lots of great reviews from fans who’ve been made to wait six extra months to see it.

“Half-Blood Prince” was supposed to be released last winter. But star Daniel Radcliffe was naked on Broadway, blinding horses in “Equus.” So Warner Bros. decided to hold off until “Equus” was just a distant memory. Luckily, “Equus” didn’t even get a Tony nomination. It just faded from view.

So what about the new “Harry Potter”? It’s long, very long, and ends on a dark, slow, sad note. At last night’s screening, the kids all said they liked it, but there was little applause and no cheering. It’s a very talky movie, frankly.

On the upside: Jim Broadbent as Professor Horace Slughorn is exceptional. He may even get some awards mentions next fall. The production is top notch, of course, with great music, tremendous sets, and visual richness. On the downside: Helena Bonham Carter now plays crazy too well. She also looks like she’s about to star in “The Stevie Nicks Story” in every movie.

But you can feel the series is drawing to a close. For one thing, the young actors are about to launch into “Harry Potter 90210″ with much talk of snogging, love potions and dating. The real magic is over. If you haven’t read the books, the movies are indistinguishable. Yes, kids love this stuff. A bunch of them last night told me they’ll go back and see it again. And that’s what it’s all about. But is this one of the five extra Best Picture nominees this year? In a word: no. “Lord of the Rings” this is not.

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Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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