Daniel Radcliffe

REVIEW: Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (2001)

On the run up the release of Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald I’m rewatching and reviewing all the Harry Potter films, including Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, as they’re films that made up a big part of my childhood but I’ve never reviewed them before.

Orphaned Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe) discovers he’s a wizard and joins the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry where he makes new friends and rivals and learns that there’s an evil that haunts the magical world.

It’s hard to talk about the Harry Potter films individually when you’ve seen the entire series and have read the books. You know where all these characters end up and The Philosopher’s Stone sets up so many character arcs and mentions so many people or items that will become more important later on in the grand scheme of things, and it does it all so well. With hindsight I appreciate The Philosopher’s Stone a lot, it’s a perfect introduction to this whole new magical world, taking the time to explain things while still having a compelling mystery at its core.

While he’s learning magic and potions, Harry meets Ron (Rupert Grint) and Hermione (Emma Watson) who soon become his best friends. When they’re not in classes the three of them stumble across a massive three-headed dog and soon get involved in a secret hidden in their school. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone works so well because one of its main story elements is the adults don’t or won’t believe the children, so they are the ones who have to go on a potentially dangerous adventure to save the day. Everyone has been a child so it’s a situation we can all relate to.

The main young trio Radcliffe, Grint and Hermione Watson give fine performances but it’s the adult cast that’s built around them that manages to be great but at the same time never overshadows their child co-stars. Richard Harris as Dumbledore is brilliant, he’s wise and calm but it’s clear he’s powerful and respected. Maggie Smith and Robbie Coltrane, as Professor McGonagall and Hagrid respectively, both bring warmth and humour to their roles. It’s Alan Rickman as Professor Snape that really stands out though. He plays Snape with such nuance that he’s an intriguing character from the outset.

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone is so bright and colourful which you appreciate more when you think about how dark, both in tone and colour palette, the latter films get. While some of the special effects have not aged so well, the Quidditch match is still thrilling to watch. The score is beautiful, and it’s funny going back to the beginning because these musical cues have become so iconic, and who knew this music would be here to stay.

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone is a great family film. It’s funny, exciting and has a compelling mystery at its heart. It’s a great starting point for adapting the books. 5/5.

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REVIEW: The Cripple of Inishmaan

Today I went to London’s West End and saw a play. This was the first time I’ve ever gone to the theatre to see something that was neither a musical nor a Shakespeare play. I’m pretty sure The Cripple of Inishmaan was one of the best plays to see with that sort of background.

The Cripple of Inishmaan is currently playing in the Noel Theatre until 31st August and its nine person cast is headed by Daniel Radcliffe. While obviously Daniel Radcliffe probably pulled in a whole different generation of theatre goers, he wasn’t the reason I went to see this play.

The Cripple of Inishmaan was written by Martin McDonagh, the writer and director of the films In Bruges and Seven Psychopaths which are two of my favourite films. I love the humour and the characters in both and I thought that if his plays were anything like his films, I’m gonna love it.

And love it I did. It is seriously funny. It’s got running gags (I’m never going to look at a cow the same way again), physical humour, and crazy characters that bounce of each other making what could be a tragic situation even more hilarious.

Granted there were those moments of quiet, which was played very well, but I spent the majority of the plays running time with a huge smile on my face.

The set design was simple but effective (it had a rotating centre piece which reminded me a lot of when I saw Mama Mia! on Broadway)  and that coupled with the music and how the cast moved around the set gave the impression of a very small community.

The entire cast was amazing, I especially liked Sarah Green as Helen McCormick who was probably my favourite character. Of course I have to talk a little about Daniel Radcliffe. This was the first thing I’ve seen him in that wasn’t Harry Potter and while I never really had any doubts, this role proves that he can act. He can do a pretty decent Irish accent and the way he moved his body was fantastic and so believable.

I congratulate the entire cast and crew for a fantastic play and I’m left here hoping that another of Martin McDonagh’s plays will return to the West End very soon.