Action replaced by wizard angst

Like any die-hard fan of the Harry Potter franchise, I’ve counted down, lined up and dressed up for the midnight screenings of the previous six films.

I’ve also been severely disappointed with the onscreen adaptations of most of them.

I’ll admit that the last few instalments have been visually impressive and delivered entertaining action scenes.

There have even been admirable performances from the adult cast, most notably Helena Bonham Carter and Gary Oldman.

And yet as I sat in the theatre last Thursday night, eagerly staring at Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part I on the giant screen in front of me, I was once again let down.

After the first film (2001’s Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone) I reconciled with the fact that it is absolutely impossible to include every detail of a book in a screenplay.

It sucked that they left out some of the series’ most endearing characters like Winky and Firenze, but as I said, I’ve come to terms with the omissions made in previous films.

So if it wasn’t technical accuracy that bothered me about The Deathly Hallows, what was it?

Well, for starters, I wasn’t expecting to see multiple shirtless Daniel Radcliffes in a single frame.

Yes, the Polyjuice Potion scene at the start was able to deliver some laughs, but more than anything, I just felt uncomfortable staring at a topless version of the kid that I’ve grown up watching on the silver screen for the last nine years.

And then there’s the angst. Oh God, the angst.

I understand that wizards are not immune to whiney teenage despair, but it seemed to me throughout the film that the angst levels in Harry, Ron and Hermione were out of control.

Ron Weasley (Rupert Grint) fills the part of the brooding ginger — always short-tempered and melodramatic.

His anguish comes to a climax when he attempts to destroy Salazar Slytherin’s locket.

The horcrux plays on Ron’s wildest fears, conjuring up a vision of a naked Harry and Hermione making out.

Though mostly factually accurate, the scene just came across as incredibly cheesy, eliciting laughter from more than a few audience members.

Hermione Granger (Emma Watson) is equally angsty, constantly torn between her two male friends and rarely appearing onscreen without tears in her eyes.

To be fair, Potter (Daniel Radcliffe) himself comes off as more awkward than angst-ridden, but it doesn’t make the viewing experience any more enjoyable.

Stumbling over silly one-liners, in addition to the world’s most awkward and unnecessary dance sequence with Hermione made me cringe on more than a couple occasions.

The melodramatic lives of the ex-Hogwarts students wouldn’t even have been so unbearable to watch had the story been supplemented with more action.

Other than the Death Eaters’ early attack on the Order of the Phoenix as they transport Harry to safety — a scene that seemed to borrow immensely and somewhat unfittingly from Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight — there were relatively few fast-paced sequences.

The scene where Snatchers chase the trio through a forest picked up the pace a bit, but was unable to recreate the greatness of the battle scenes in The Order of the Phoenix or The Half-Blood Prince.

Moreover, as one of two instalments, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part I fails to stand on its own as a film.

I couldn’t help but leave the cinema feeling like I’d only watched half a movie.

This may be an overly harsh assessment of the film.

Everyone’s favourite house elf Dobby stole the show, and the animated sequence telling the “Tale of the Three Brothers” was executed masterfully.

Who knows, maybe in a couple years I’ll even look back and find the awkward child actors charming.

But as for now, all I’ll be doing is re-reading the book and preparing myself for the probably inevitable disappointment of The Deathly Hallows Part II.