50 Things I Learnt From Watching the Harry Potter Films for the First Time (Part 1)

First, a confession. Up until a week ago I had never seen a single scene from a Harry Potter movie. I had never read the books. I didn’t know which house I was in. Imagine if the dementors had sucked away all your knowledge of Harry Potter and left you a meaningless and empty husk. That was me. But now I am reborn! I’m half way through the Harry Potter films and I’ve learnt a lot. Read all about it here…

Harry Potter and the Philosophers Stone

Continue reading “50 Things I Learnt From Watching the Harry Potter Films for the First Time (Part 1)”

Edge of Tomorrow – 7/10.

Groundhog Day with aliens…


Tom Cruise’s star has faded massively in recent years due to his erratic behaviour and beliefs and a number of high profile box office failures. Whilst Edge of Tomorrow is not going to change that (it too was a box office disappointment) it shows signs of a recovery for Cruise at least as well as another strong turn from Emily Blunt.

There are certainly better actors than Tom Cruise but there are few better leading men and with sequels to Mission Impossible, Jack Reacher and Top Gun (!) all in the pipeline, Cruise is showing no signs of slowing down now.

For all this talk of Tom Cruise it is his co-star Emily Blunt who gives the best performance in Edge of Tomorrow alongside strong support from Brendan Gleeson and Bill Paxton. Showing she is just as at home with gruelling action sequences as with more emotional fare, Blunt is on a role at the moment with a potential star turn in The Girl On The Train coming up next year as well.

Another strong performance from Emily Blunt

Edge of Tomorrow is based on a manga style book and takes elements from Starship Troopers, Source Code, Looper, and many others to provide an exciting film with a premise that surprisingly remains fresh throughout despite it’s repetitive nature, repetitive nature, repetitive nature…

There has been a lot of films made recently with a similar theme such as Elysium, Pacific Rim and another Tom Cruise vehicle Oblivion but Edge of Tomorrow is probably the best of the lot and it deserves to have been seen by more people than it eventually was.

28 Days Later – 8.5/10

Even one girls horrific acting doesn’t make Danny Boyle’s bleakest work any less nightmarish…


Zombie films had gone seriously out of fashion during the 90’s but Danny Boyle brought the classic genre back with a bang in 2002 with 28 Days Later. Whilst the ‘infected’ in Boyle’s horror masterpiece are not technically zombies as they don’t die and come back to life, in every other sense they are the same as the army of the undead made so popular by George A. Romero’s classic Night of the Living Dead franchise. What Danny Boyle did is move away from shuffling, groaning corpses to sprinting and screaming lunatics crashing through your front room window. It is such a simple idea to have the zombies running rather than stumbling but it reinvigorated the genre and paved the way for Zack Snyder’s Dawn of the Dead remake as well as the Resident Evil franchise, World War Z, Zombieland and many others.

28 Days Later is more than just a zombie film though, taking in isolation and man’s inhumanity or ‘people killing people’ as it is described so succinctly by the always reliable Christopher Ecclestone, there is a haunting quality that lingers long after the final credits. It is Cillian Murphy in the main role who really impresses, seeing his character completely transformed in the third act whilst still maintaining a believable performance. In support Brendan Gleeson and Naomie Harris are both a little over the top and this grates at times but much worse is newcomer Megan Burns as Gleeson’s daughter Hannah. Almost every one of Burns’ lines is delivered so robotically it is hard to watch and it is no surprise she never acted again after 28 Days Later.

Megan Burns stinks the place out as Hannah.

In the opening ‘Hello’ sequence and the climactic ‘In a Heartbeat’ conclusion, Danny Boyle has crafted two of the most perfect scenes in the history of horror and it is these bookends that ensure that 28 Days Later will always be considered a horror classic.

Calvary – 8/10.

Brendan Gleeson gives a career best performance in a little film with big ideas.

Kelly Reilly and Brendan Gleeson in Calvary

David Lynch’s seminal TV show Twin Peaks helped to introduce the idea of a town or city becoming almost a living breathing character. Brendan Gleeson’s fatherly priest James is continually surprised and stumped by the actions of the inhabitants of the strange little town he has found himself in. It is this sense of the bizarre and unease that drive Calvary forward with enough interesting characters to fill a whole TV show.

Aside from the beautiful Irish countryside and Gleeson’s remarkable performance it is the dialogue that really sets Calvary aside from similar works. Big philosophical ideas are presented as casual chats between acquaintances and the many subliminal messages are hidden beneath the eccentricities of the characters and the wit and humour inherent throughout the script.

Another big plus is the supporting cast with comedians Chris O’ Dowd and Dylan Moran stepping out of their comfort zones in spectacular fashion. Moran in particular is superb, stealing almost every scene he is in with a restrained and vulnerable performance. Kelly Reilly also gives a very strong performance as the cynical counter weight to Gleeson’s warm optimism

Calvary is poetic, beautiful and laugh out loud funny and I instantly wanted to watch it again after the credits rolled. One of the best films of 2014.

In Bruges – 8.5/10

Film Title: In Bruges

It is so easy to say ‘the real star of In Bruges is Bruges itself’ but… you know… the real star of In Bruges IS Bruges itself. The Venice of the North is such a picturesque and eye catching place that every scene pops off the screen. The cast are also on sparkling form. Colin Farrell, thankfully not asked to put on an accent, is hilarious as the bewildered and grief stricken Ray handling both the humour and the heavier scenes with aplomb. This is the other main strength of In Bruges. Many other films struggle to shift gears from comedy to more serious fare, often losing focus but director Martin McDonagh does a great job holding things together. Brendan Gleeson is cuddly and enjoyable as ever but it is Ralph Fiennes who impresses most as menacing cockney gangster Harry (or ‘Arry to use the parlance of our times).

In Bruges is another one of those films that doesn’t look anything special on paper but is a surprising gem if you give it a chance. You can’t really argue with *SPOILER* Colin Farrell karate chopping a dwarf can you?