Wednesday, 30 January 2013

This Means War (2012)

This Means War is about a woman called Lauren (played by Reese Witherspoon). She's depressed and down-in-the-dumps because she wants a serious relationship but can't find the right guy. Lauren's friend Trish (played by American comedienne Chelsea Handler) then talks Lauren into joining an online dating site. Lauren wants to get off the site but she then sees a picture of this one guy on there who's really good-looking so she decides to go on a date with him. This guy turns out to be a British man called Tuck (played by Tom Hardy). Tuck has been struggling to get dates ever since he divorced his wife. *Seriously? This film expects me to believe that a man who looks like Tom Hardy could struggle to get dates?! Ha!* After Lauren has her date with Tuck she then bumps into another man called FDR (played by Chris Pine). FDR takes a shine to Lauren and she ends up dating him as well. But what Lauren doesn't know is that Tuck and FDR are actually best friends and that they're both CIA agents. When Tuck and FDR both find out that they're dating the same woman they promise to leave Lauren alone - but instead they screw each other. They each break into Lauren's house to plant surveillance bugs and find out what her hobbies and interests are so they can win her affections.

I watched This Means War a while ago and it really is a shockingly awful film. Well, maybe it's not shockingly so since it was directed by McG; the man who was behind the Charlie's Angels and Terminator: Salvation films and was once described as "Michael Bay's untalented cousin" by Mark Kermode. Ha ha! The film really is crap though and there's so much that's wrong with it. The film requires you to make far too many suspensions of disbelief and the plot is so thin that you could poke sizeable holes in it. It really struggles to fill up the 97 minute running time. Basically the film goes from one "hilarious" sketch to the next, and there's some Eastern European bad guy who's tacked onto the very beginning and end of the film in an attempt to add some action and dramatic tension. The film is incredibly predictable too, even for a romantic comedy! For example: in the first five minutes of the film the bad guy's brother is killed and the bad guy's still on the loose. Golly gosh! Does this mean that he's going to come back at the end, kidnap the girl, and force the two spys to put aside their differences and work together to save her?! Also, Lauren intensely dislikes one of the spys at first. Surely she's not going to end up with him at the end?!

The film sucks in other ways too. The action and fighting scenes in the film are actually really boring. There are too many quick cuts, it's hard to follow what's actually happening, and there's no suspense. The script is absolutely dire too. The film is supposed to be a comedy but it's really not funny. The character who gets the most embarrassing dialogue is undoubtedly Lauren's friend Trish. She gets some absolutely atrocious lines and is one of the most annoying characters I've ever seen on screen! All of the characters are pretty unlikeable and annoying in this film though. The two blokes are supposed to have been best mates for years but they still think it's OK to screw each other over and waste their work colleagues' time and resources in order to stalk a woman. And Lauren whines and complains for almost the entire film and is happy to cheat on two men. And what's wrong with being British, Lauren?! Huh?! Huh?! Yet another problem that I have with this film is that there's no chemistry between the leading actors. OK, there's a little bit of chemistry between Tom Hardy and Chris Pine but neither of them have any chemistry with Witherspoon. Pine's sex scene with Witherspoon was embarrassing to watch.

I really couldn't understand how any of the leading actors could have agreed to do this film, especially Hardy. Reese Witherspoon and Chris Pine have done some bad films in the past after all (Four Christmases, Just My Luck). But why would Hardy want to do this film I thought? He's a brilliant actor and he'd already done Inception and Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy before This Means War. After watching This Means War though I read that Reese Witherspoon agreed to do it because she wanted to do a film that made her look sexy; and Pine and Hardy wanted to do something light and fluffy after doing a bunch of serious films. Well, that's all well and good but if you're going to do a film for those reasons then you should still make sure that the film has a good script and a good director! You're all too good for this crappy rom-com/action film! Did the film look good on paper? Did they pay the actors a ridiculous amount of cash to do the film? Who knows.

Rating: 1/5

Saturday, 26 January 2013

Doctor Who (Series Two)

As we all know Doctor Who became a massive hit when it was brought back to our television screens in 2005. The first episode alone received about 10 million viewers so the BBC immediately commissioned a second series. A special hour-long episode called The Christmas Invasion aired on Christmas Day 2005, with the second series airing from April 2006. Billie Piper would reprise her role as the Doctor's companion Rose Tyler in this second series before leaving the show but John Barrowman wouldn't return at all as Captain Jack Harkness. Instead Barrowman was given his own spin-off show called Torchwood, which first aired in October 2006. The second series of Doctor Who would also feature a different actor playing The Doctor. Just a few days after the first episode of series one was aired it was announced that Christopher Eccleston would be leaving the show after just one series. Eccleston has distanced himself from Doctor Who ever since and it seems extremely unlikely that we'll ever see him on the show again. Unless he gets a great storyline or is strapped for cash I doubt we'll be seeing him for the show's 50th anniversary later this year.

Eccleston's replacement for the role would be David Tennant. He had been the bookmakers' favourite to take over the role as soon as Eccleston had announced that he was leaving. This was partly because Tennant had already worked with Doctor Who's then-showrunner Russell T Davies before on the BBC mini-series Casanova; but it was mostly because Tennant had been a die-hard fan of Doctor Who ever since he was a child. Numerous times he'd been quoted as saying that watching Doctor Who as a child was the reason why he wanted to become an actor and that playing the Doctor was his dream role. This childhood dream came true when he got to play the 10th Doctor : ) In this post I'm going to be writing an overview of the series before moving on to write more in-depth reviews of the episodes in following posts. To sum up quickly though: there are two fantastic episodes in this series and two terrible episodes. The rest are all enjoyable, family entertainment.

David Tennant as the 10th Doctor
The Doctor
David Tennant's casting provoked mixed reactions from the fans initially. Not everyone likes change of course and Tennant wasn't a huge name at the time. He had mostly done stage work including numerous Shakespeare plays. Some fans were excited about his casting and some were apprehensive. I myself was excited. I had already seen Tennant before in Casanova and Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire and had really enjoyed his performances. And when I saw him as the Doctor I loved him! I wasn't the only one to love him either. Series two was a huge hit and proved that series one was no fluke. In fact Tennant became the most popular Doctor since Tom Baker and even became something of a national treasure.

David Tennant gave a wonderful performance as the Doctor. I liked Christopher Eccleston's Doctor but I LOVED Tennant's. His Doctor just came across as so much more likeable. He had a mischievous wit and he had a magnetic screen presence. His Doctor was also dashing, lively, adorable, quirky and energetic. Tennant had a much wider range than Eccleston too and was more of an all-rounder. He was better than Eccleston when it came to doing light-hearted, comedic scenes and he had a greater aura of eccentric intelligence. His Doctor was never as brooding and intense as Eccleston's but he could still do dark and angry scenes extremely well when he had to. David Tennant is an outstanding actor and he made for a wonderful Doctor. Occasionally the scripts let him down and I hated his regeneration scene but he was still brilliant overall. He was living his dream and his natural enthusiasm just shone through. He threw himself into the part and was clearly having a great time playing the character. Tennant won several awards for playing the Doctor but he should have won a BAFTA for the role in my opinion. At the very least he should have been nominated!

So yeah, Tennant is an exceptional actor and I think that was the main reason why he became so popular as the Doctor. But I'm not going to pretend that there aren't other reasons why he became so popular. For one thing it has to be said that David Tennant is an extremely attractive man. He's tall, dark and gorgeous and looks a decade younger than he really is. I can't believe that he's now 41! Also, his suits-and-converse look really suited him. His clothes were geeky but he still managed to look really cool with it. I think another big factor in David Tennant becoming so popular is that he's obviously a really lovely person and it comes across in interviews. He was also willing to appear as himself on TV i.e. guest-hosting Nevermind the Buzzcocks and going on Who Do You Think You Are? 

However I still firmly believe that it was Tennant's brilliant acting that caused him to be as popular as he was. Oh I'm sure his good looks, warm personality and long duration as the Doctor certainly helped but I truly believe that David Tennant is one of the finest actors working in Britain today. If it hadn't been for him I think Doctor Who could have gone disastrously wrong. As I mentioned in my series one review of the show, Doctor Who was a very flawed and inconsistent show when Russell T Davies was in charge. Yes it was still a very entertaining show but it was also a show that you felt a bit embarrassed about watching. Well, I sometimes felt embarrassed about watching it anyway! You could watch an episode of Doctor Who that was sheer brilliance one week to watching a really boring or silly episode the next. But Tennant's acting helped to keep even the worst episodes of Doctor Who watchable and he's my favourite Doctor. I liked Christopher Eccleston's Doctor. I think Matt Smith is doing an amazing job at the moment and I love him too. I've really enjoyed the classic Doctors I've seen (Tom Baker, Peter Davison and Paul McGann). But the 10th Doctor remains my favourite and I REALLY hope that Tennant will come back for the show's 50th anniversary. I reckon he'd be well up for it and I'd love to see him and Matt Smith's Doctors interacting with each other.

The only vaguely negative thing that I have to say about Tennant's Doctor is that I kind of wish they'd let him keep his native Scottish accent for the role instead of giving him a generic southern English one. They let Christopher Eccleston use his native Mancunian accent after all so why not let Tennant keep his Scottish one? Also, Tennant's Scottish accent is ridiculously sexy! Oh well, at least Tennant's English accent is really good and he did get to use his Scottish accent in Tooth and Claw.

The Companions
As I've already mentioned Billie Piper reprised her role as Rose Tyler in this series....*sigh*  I have nothing against Billie Piper, I really don't. I think she's a solid, capable actress and I think she did a genuinely great job on Doctor Who. But I can't stand Rose Tyler. Not because of Billie Piper's acting but because of the way the character was written. Rose did have some good moments in series one I must admit. I liked her "Bitchy trampoline" line to Cassandra in The End of the World. I liked her in The Unquiet Dead and Father's Day episodes. I liked the scene where Rose got semi-possessed by the TARDIS in The Parting of the Ways. However, Rose's good moments were few and far between and her character mostly annoyed me. In this series she's even even more annoying! I think Rose had a better dynamic with the 9th Doctor. Rose was willing to challenge and question the 9th Doctor's decisions in series one but her character gets really simpering with the 10th. Rose isn't so aggravating that she ruins the show but she's still an irritating character nonetheless. I know a lot of people out there really love Rose and I wouldn't judge someone for liking her character - but why?! Why do people like her character?! Throughout her time on Doctor Who Rose treated her loving mother and boyfriend Mickey like they were crap, especially Mickey. She kept stringing him along and even Billie Piper herself once admitted that Rose was a "bit of a cow" to him. Rose obviously wanted the excitement of the Doctor and the security of Mickey at the same time. Rose had a jealous, possessive streak too. She was rude and bitchy towards any woman who showed an interest in the Doctor, i.e. Sarah Jane Smith in this series and Martha Jones in series four. Rose even made the Doctor get on my nerves occasionally. And then there's the Doctor-Rose romance...

Whilst there was a bit of flirtation between Rose and the 9th Doctor in series one it was still reasonably subtle. In series two though the romantic tension between Rose and the 10th Doctor is much more blatant and obvious, at least it is on Rose's behalf anyway. It becomes obvious that she's madly, crazily, passionately in love with the Doctor. However, I don't think the Doctor reciprocates Rose's feelings for him to the same extent. I'm not saying that the Doctor didn't love Rose at all. His tears in Doomsday and his pining for Rose in series three clearly shows that he did. But I don't believe that the Doctor's love for Rose is an all-consuming passion. If so then why would he fall in love with Madame du Pompadour in The Girl in the Fireplace? Not to mention that he was much less enthusiastic at the thought of settling down with Rose than Rose was with him in The Impossible Planet. I don't really buy the 10th Doctor/Rose romance as being some great love story. I guess you could accuse me of being biased because of my dislike of Rose but I genuinely believe that Rose loved the Doctor more than he loved her.

Rose Tyler isn't the only companion of the Doctor's in this series though. Mickey Smith gets to be a temporary companion of the Doctor's too. This was a great decision. Mickey was pretty much defined as "Rose's Boyfriend" in series one. I felt sorry for him because of the way Rose treated him, but I still didn't care about him that much and I did find him a bit boring. But in this series Mickey gets more character development and he becomes more interesting and likeable. By the time he shows up again in Army of Ghosts you can see how much he's grown.

Recurring characters
I did feel some sympathy for Jackie in Aliens of London/World War Three back in series one but I mostly found Rose's mother really annoying. She was hysterical, shouty and very over-the-top. Jackie is more bearable in this series though and she gets some good character development in Love & Monsters and the Army of Ghosts/Doomsday two-parter. We get to see Rose's dad Pete Tyler in this series too. Shaun Dingwell was so good in the Father's Day episode in series one that I'm not surprised they brought him back and it was really nice to see him again.

My favourite episodes of Series Two:
  • School Reunion (by Toby Whithouse)
  • The Girl in the Fireplace (by Steven Moffat)
  • The Impossible Planet/The Satan's Pit (by Matt Jones).
My least favourite episodes of series two:
  • Love & Monsters (by Russell T Davies)
  • Fear Her (by Matthew Graham).

My favourite Guest Stars of series two:

  • Pauline Collins (in Tooth and Claw), 
  • Elisabeth Sladen and Anthony Stewart Head (in School Reunion)
  • Sophia Myles (in The Girl in the Fireplace).

Born Again
I thought I'd include the 2005 Children in Need special in this review as well. It's a little mini-episode called Born Again that directly follows the final scene from The Parting of the Ways, the series one finale. After a fairly lengthy recap of The Parting of the Ways it picks up a few minutes after that episode's final scene. Born Again feels like more a deleted scene than an actual mini-episode and it could have easily been been put in at the start of The Christmas Invasion. It would have fit in perfectly. It's still a really nice little scene though. The Doctor is full of energy and is excited about his new body and appearance. He's full of life. However, Rose is much less enthusiastic. She thinks that the Doctor must have been captured and that the man in front of her is an imposter. Both David Tennant and Billie Piper act really well in this scene. Billie Piper looks genuinely alarmed and David Tennant's acting is great already. He shows an impressive amount of range in the space of a few minutes. He goes from delight and excitement about his new appearance, to sadness at Rose's rejection, to vulnerability as the effects of the regeneration kick in, and then to slightly unhinged mania as he pilots the TARDIS back to modern-day Earth. And then we get The Christmas Invasion...

Sunday, 13 January 2013

Les Miserables (2012)

The time is now! The day is here! 

I have been looking forward to this film for so long! The stage version of Les Miserables is my favourite musical of all time and the Victor Hugo novel is one of my favourite books of all time; so my mood was of cautiously excited optimism when it was first announced that a film adaptation would be made. I love Les Mis of course but Phantom of the Opera - my second favourite musical - got a mostly rubbish adaptation in the 2004 film. Sweeney Todd is another favourite musical of mine and its film adaptation wasn't bad but the stage version is so much better. My excitement did get considerably stronger when Tom Hooper was announced as the director of Les Mis because I loved The King's Speech. And then I got even more excited with every cast member that was announced. OK, there was a big drop in excitement when it was announced from many websites that Taylor Swift was playing Eponine but balance was restored when it was announced that Samantha Barks had got the role instead. And at long last I've finally seen this film - twice! I saw it last night with two friends and tonight with my mum because she wanted someone to go to the cinema with.

So what do I think? Well, before I go into that I'm just going to explain something. This film is not the best sung version of Les Mis that you will ever hear. Both the 10th and 25th anniversary concerts feature better all-round singing and you shouldn't expect the exact same kind of singing that you get in the live stage version. The film is different to the stage version in that that there's much more of an emphasis on acting rather than perfect singing. The singing is softer and there isn't as much belting. Even the actors in this film who come from a stage background adopt this kind of singing. If I heard singing like this at the Queen's Theatre then I would probably think the cast was mediocre. But this film isn't a stage production and cinema is a very different medium to theatre. The difference between theatre and cinema isn't as big as the difference between literature and cinema but they're still very different mediums. What works on stage won't always work on film and vice versa. The singing in this film might not be of the same standard that you get in the stage version but fans shouldn't worry because most of the cast still have great voices and everyone can sing. The standard of singing in this film is far better than the standard of singing in the Phantom of the Opera and Sweeney Todd films! The live singing also worked brilliantly, especially during the more emotional scenes. I hope this approach becomes normal for musical movies in the future.

The film is mostly very faithful to the stage musical but there are some changes and it isn't an exact replica of it. The stage version is a completely sung-through musical but there is some added dialogue in this film; not much though, just the odd spoken line every now and again. There are some new lyrics in places and some songs have been moved around. I Dreamed a Dream, Stars and On My Own are sung in different places to the stage version, and the Red and Black/Do You Hear the People Sing? songs are split up so Do You Hear the People Sing? now comes after One Day More. Thenardier's solo song Dog Eat Dog is the only song from the stage version that is completely absent in this film but other songs are shortened. There were also lots of extra details that were drawn directly from the book which I'll get on to later. For now I'll give my opinions on the cast....

Jean Valjean - Hugh Jackman
I really loved Hugh Jackman's Jean Valjean and there isn't any other actor in Hollywood that I can imagine doing the role as well. His acting was brilliant. He gave a very moving performance and he clearly understood the character. Compassion, goodness and love practically exuded from his every pore! I don't think I've ever wanted to hug Valjean as much as I did when watching this film - and no it wasn't just because he's the hottest Valjean I've ever seen! I do have two minor criticisms I must admit. Firstly - through no fault of Jackman's - I wasn't really buying him as a 60-something until his death scene. I wish they'd aged him up more convincingly for the Paris scenes with Adult Cosette. Secondly, I did find his version of Bring Him Home underwhelming. Bring Him Home is one of my favourite songs from Les Mis. I know it's off-canon and I know that Valjean actually hated Marius at this point in the book - but I don't even care. The melody is just too beautiful for me not to love it! But Jackman sounded shouty when he sang it and it seemed like he was struggling with it. However, I would never trade the rest of Hugh Jackman's excellent performance just for the sake of that one song. Jackman's versions of Valjean's Soliloquy and Who Am I? were excellent and his acting in Valjean's death scene was beautifully done. I'm really pleased that he's won Oscar and BAFTA nominations for his performance in this film because he really deserves it. I thought the new song Suddenly that Valjean gets in the film was a nice touch too. One of the common criticisms of the stage musical is that you don't get much of a sense of just how much Valjean loves Cosette and how much she means to him. I thought Suddenly helped to convey that better even though I didn't actually like the tune very much. The song itself is actually pretty boring and unmemorable and I hope it doesn't get put in the stage version. It's too intimate. I don't think Suddenly will be winning the Oscar for Best Song. I think Adele will be winning that one for Skyfall.

Javert - Russell Crowe
Russell Crowe has really divided Les Mis fans with his performance in this film. Some loved him as Javert, others hated him. As for myself, well, I didn't HATE him but he was easily my least favourite out of the main cast. I can see why Tom Hooper cast him though. Crowe isn't too good-looking to play Javert and he is physically imposing. Crowe had some really good moments too I thought. I liked his acting in the scene where Javert asks Monsieur Madeleine to sack him for "mistakenly" reporting him as Jean Valjean. I was really pleased that they added in that scene from that book. I liked Crowe in the Prologue too and I was especially entertained by his Confrontation scene with Jean Valjean. That was a seriously badass scene! I think Hugh Jackman brought out the best in Crowe actually. But in other places... see I knew when I went into the film that I shouldn't Crowe to be vocally amazing. I knew he certainly wasn't going to equal Philip Quast and Crowe's singing wasn't brilliant in the film. He didn't sing as well as everyone else. His singing wasn't horrible though and he's no Pierce Brosnan. It was actually Crowe's acting that I had more of an issue with. For example, there's the scene where Gavroche tells Enjolras and the students that Javert is actually a police inspector who's spying on them. Crowe's Javert is obviously furious and he tries to fight the students and make a run for it. He's too emotional. Yet funnily enough, I felt barely any emotion coming from him at all in Javert's Suicide. He was much too subdued and restrained. Yes, I know that Javert doesn't show his emotions very easily but he does still have them! When I saw the stage version of Les Mis again fairly recently I was really tense when I saw this scene and I really cared about Javert. But I found the Javert's Suicide scene in this film much less powerful and moving. Crowe was emotional when Javert should be calm and stoical and calm and stoical when he should be emotional! What's up with that?! I don't want to be too harsh though because some performances ruin films and Crowe's performance definitely didn't. Like I say, Crowe did have some have really good moments and my two friends and mum really liked him (my mum fancies Crowe though so I think that may have played a part!) I don't think Russell Crowe is by any means terrible in this film. It's just that I didn't think he was fantastic.

Fantine - Anne Hathaway
Wow! Anne Hathaway is absolutely magnificent in this film and she gives a flawless performance. Out of all of the actors in this film, Anne Hathaway has received the most critical acclaim and media attention and now I've seen her I can completely understand why. She thoroughly deserves all of the praise she's won. It's not that no-one else gives a great performance in the film. That's not the case at all! It's just that Anne Hathaway is the best singer out of the big-name Hollywood actors and also because Fantine's story is just so desperately sad and heartbreaking. Moving the I Dreamed a Dream song around really was a brilliant decision. In the stage version Fantine sings the song after she's been sacked from the factory and before she becomes a prostitute. But in this film the song has been moved back to its original position on the French concept album and Fantine now sings it after she's become a prostitute. Again, this was a brilliant move! It makes the song even more tragic than it already is, and it actually makes more sense in this position because this is when Fantine is at her lowest ebb. Hathaway's version of I Dreamed a Dream is beautifully acted and sung and it's an incredibly powerful scene. She strikes exactly the right balance between singing softly and belting, and how she was able to sing so well with tears streaming down her face I'll never know. Hathaway is brilliant in all of her scenes too. She has a beautiful voice and I'm even more annoyed that she didn't get the role of Christine in Phantom of the Opera now! Hathaway is incredible in Les Mis. She throws herself into the role with total commitment. She even had her hair cut off for real and lost 25 pounds for the role. If Hathaway doesn't win the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress I'll be shocked and appalled!

Young Cosette - Isabelle Allen
She was so cute! She was adorable, her version of Castle on a Cloud was lovely and she really did look like she could be a younger version of Amanda Seyfried. Some excellent casting went on here! You get to see more of Young Cosette in this film than you do in the stage version as well and that was really nice. You see her briefly in Come to Me, she's sleeping on Valjean's lap in Suddenly, and you see her when she and Valjean are being chased by Javert in Paris. I hope I'll get to see Isabelle Allen in other things and I do love the fact that it's her face that's on the official posters. It really ties-in with the iconic Emile Bayard illustrations that the stage musical utilised.

The Thenardiers - Sacha Baron Cohen and Helena Bonham Carter
I really enjoyed them especially Helena Bonham Carter. She was so much better at playing Madame Thenardier than she was at playing Mrs Lovett in Sweeney Todd! She was very funny, she was more flamboyant than she was in Sweeney Todd, she was conniving and she was a little bit creepy. She still isn't a very strong singer of course but that really didn't matter. The role of Madame Thenardier doesn't require a strong singer. Sacha Baron Cohen was great too. He's a really funny guy and some of his lines felt improvised. He's also a pretty good singer and his Master of the House was hilarious and very entertaining. I loved it when he called Young Cosette "Courgette"! I've read that he was the second choice for the role. Geoffrey Rush was offered the role first apparently but he turned the role down because he thought he'd be too old. Although I am intrigued as to whether Geoffrey Rush would have been better at playing Thenardier than Javert I definitely think Sacha Baron Cohen was the better choice for the role. I think he could have done with being a bit more menacing in Attack at Rue Plumet admittedly but because I found him so hilarious in general I'm perfectly willing to let that go. He and Helena Bonham Carter definitely brought in the comic relief that this film needed. I was really pleased whenever they showed up, unlike their book counterparts whom I hate.

Gavroche - Daniel Huttlestone
This kid was fantastic! He was very cute but he still looked tough enough to play Gavroche and you could buy him as a Parisian street urchin. He had a great voice, his acting was terrific, he wasn't at all annoying, and he had some brilliant interactions with the adult actors. In this film it's now Gavroche who delivers Marius's letter to Cosette - just like in the book - and Huttlestone's scene with Hugh Jackman was an especially nice bit of comic relief. Like Isabelle Allen, I really hope I'll get to see Daniel Huttlestone in other things because he's clearly a great child actor and he's fantastic in this film. I loved him. You could tell that the film-makers obviously loved him as well because Gavroche got a lot more screentime than he usually gets on stage.

Marius - Eddie Redmayne
I watched an ITV documentary on the film recently and there was a scene where Eddie Redmayne was being interviewed by Michael Ball. They had a good laugh about Musical Marius being a drip, and then Redmayne said that both he and Tom Hooper wanted to make Marius's character in the film closer to the Marius of Victor Hugo's book. They definitely did! Redmayne was brilliant in this film and his Marius was everything I'd want from a screen Marius. His acting was brilliant and he clearly understood the character. His Marius was very likeable. I think Redmayne did a really good job of conveying Marius's shy, socially awkward side in A Heart Full of Love. I loved his adorable little stutter! But Marius's badass side comes through in this film as well. He rides a horse, he stabs a man with a freakin' sword, and he saves the Barricade by threatening to blow it up with dynamite - just like in the book! Awesome! I don't know why they had one of the students act angry about this though because in the book they were all really pleased : S I really loved that we got to see Marius's grandfather in this film as well. Sure Monsieur Gillenormand only gets a few lines but nevertheless it was still really nice to see him. I think all of these things helped to give Marius some much-needed depth and strength as a character. Marius is a pretty bland character in the stage version but he's far more interesting in Victor Hugo's book - in that he's actually one of my favourite characters. I was so pleased that they made Marius more book-like in this film! Also, Eddie Redmayne had great chemistry with both Amanda Seyfried and Samantha Barks. He's a great singer too! He has a beautiful, classical-sounding tenor voice and he could actually hold his own against Samantha Barks and Aaron Tveit. This was very important because you could tell that these actors were professional singers. I think Redmayne could be one too. I think - if he wanted to - that he could have his pick of West End singing roles after his performance in this film. He has a fantastic voice. And I haven't even mentioned Empty Chairs at Empty Tables yet! It's one of my favourite songs in the musical anyway but Redmayne's version of that song was wonderful and heartbreaking. Even without the ghosts of the students it's still an extremely powerful scene. Again, how he and Anne Hathaway were able to sing their big solos with tears streaming down their faces I'll never know! And they sang them so well too! Redmayne definitely gave one of my favourite performances in this film and his Marius is now my favourite. He looks absolutely nothing like Book Marius of course but neither does Michael Ball and I still love him in the 10th anniversary concert. Funnily enough the guy who played Grantaire in this film - George Blagden - actually looked a lot more like Book Marius. He had dark curly hair and he was really good-looking! Redmayne is still really attractive though. Admittedly he's more striking than conventionally handsome so I can sort of understand why he wouldn't be to everyone's taste. One friend didn't find him attractive at all. I think he's flipping gorgeous though!

Cosette - Amanda Seyfried
Amanda Seyfried is beautiful and - despite the fact that she's a blonde and not a brunette - she definitely looks the part. She's beautiful in a very doll-like, slightly angelic way. Even though Samantha Barks's Eponine is stunning you could see why Marius found Seyfried's Cosette more so. I really enjoyed Amanda Seyfried's performance in this film. I'd heard some bad things about her singing before I went into the film. I thought Amanda Seyfried would be really good in this film initially because she sang really well in Mamma Mia! She was about the only actor in that film who did! I was also pretty impressed with her voice in that brief promotional featurette they released ages ago. But I heard some negative comments about Amanda Seyfried's voice before I went into this film and I was beginning to think that maybe she wouldn't be so good after all. But, no, she was really good. I actually really liked her voice. Yes she did sound a bit wispy at times and I've definitely heard better-sung Cosettes from the stage version, but her voice still sounded lovely and was perfectly fine for a movie musical. I was impressed that she was able to hit Cosette's high notes as well as she did and I think she'd have made a really good Johanna in the Sweeney Todd film. I really enjoyed her acting too. She had really good chemistry with both Eddie Redmayne and Hugh Jackman. She and Eddie Redmayne made for a really cute couple, and Cosette's relationship with Valjean was very well-done and believable in the film. Seyfried's acting at Valjean's death scene in particular was lovely and moving. I really liked Amanda Seyfried in this film and I thought she did an excellent job. Her Cosette wasn't a whiny, ungrateful brat that you wanted to slap like the Cosette of the 1998 film. Her Cosette wasn't nauseatingly sweet and passive like some of the stage Cosettes are. Seyfried's Cosette was sweet but not sickeningly so and she did come across as pretty likeable. I especially liked an added scene that they put in this film. After Valjean confesses his past to Valjean and leaves there's a new scene that's almost like a reprisal of Every Day. Cosette is upset and hurt that Valjean has left and now Marius is the one who's saying "Don't worry, it will all be OK. I still love you and I'll always be there for you". I thought this was a lovely touch and it made Cosette more sympathetic and endearing. Cosette's character is quite bland in the stage version and, to be honest, she's still a bit bland in this film. However she's much less so and this film really respects her character.

Eponine - Samantha Barks
Samantha Barks is the only adult actor from the main cast who has actually been in the stage version of Les Mis before. She played the role of Eponine for a year at the Queen's Theatre, London and she also took part in the 25th anniversary concert at the O2 Arena. Unsurprisingly Barks's singing voice is excellent in this film! Anyone who comes into this film who's also seen Barks play Eponine live - as I have 
: ) - will know that her singing isn't quite the same in this film. Her singing is softer and she tones down the belting somewhat. Her voice is still beautiful though and her renditions of On My Own and A Little Fall of Rain are beautiful. She's one of the film's strongest singers and you can tell she's a professional. Barks's acting was great too. She had screen presence and she's clearly improved from the 25th anniversary concert. She never plays Eponine as being the mentally unstable character of the book but there's more of a toughness about her. Barks had genuine chemistry with Eddie Redmayne as well, but at the same time her Eponine and Redmayne's Marius weren't too matey with each other and I really appreciated that. Their characters are closer than they are in Hugo's book but there was still some distance between them and they're obviously not best friends, which is how some actors portray their relationship in the stage version. Barks doesn't overact in the film either and I think she does a brilliant job. I loved Samantha Barks's performance in this film. Thank God we got to see her as Eponine in this film and not Taylor Swift! That would have been horrible! I'm quite intrigued as to what Samantha Barks will do next. Will she go back to the West End or will she want to do more films? Because I think she has the potential to be a big film star. She has a beautiful, powerful singing voice. She can act. She's stunning. If Wicked gets turned into a film within the next few years I'm absolutely convinced that she'd be considered for the role of Elphaba. I think she'd be fantastic! 

Enjolras - Aaron Tveit
I loved Aaron Tveit in this film! His singing voice isn't as booming and powerful as you'd expect from an Enjolras but he still sounded excellent and you could tell that he was a Broadway singer. I loved his voice. I also appreciated the fact that he looked tough enough to play the character and that he was a very attractive blonde : ) I really liked Tveit's acting too. He had charisma and a quiet dignity about him which is very much like Book Enjolras. The Enjolras of this film is the most book-accurate portrayal I've ever seen! Tveit doesn't get as much of a chance to shine as the other actors in the main cast though sadly. This is because some of Enjolras's solo lines in Red and Black and Do You Hear the People Sing? are turned into ensemble lines that all of the students sing. Enjolras doesn't interact with Grantaire very much in this film either, apart from a few odd glances every now and again and their death scene. That was a bit of a shame. I know from reading the script that there were some more interactions between them but they must have got left on the cutting room floor. Maybe we'll get this in deleted scenes on the DVD bonus features or in that rumoured extended edition DVD.....? Fingers crossed!

The Ensemble - I really loved the fact that a lot of West End stars made cameo appearances in this film. It was such a nice thrill whenever I recognised someone. I spotted Frances Ruffelle (the original Eponine) and Nancy Sullivan playing prostitutes in Lovely Ladies. Bertie Carvel played Bamatabois in Fantine's Arrest. Killian Donnelly and Fra Fee played revolutionary students. Fra Fee played Courfeyrac and he actually got a fair bit of screentime because Courfeyrac got the relationship with Gavroche in the film that Grantaire usually gets with him in the stage version. I loved seeing Gina Beck as a random woman in Turning and Hadley Fraser - who was sporting a very impressive moustache! - as the Army Officer. My favourite West End cameo though came from Colm Wilkinson. He originated the role of Jean Valjean on the West End and Broadway and got to play the character again for the 10th anniversary concert. He played the Bishop in this film and he gave an excellent performance. Even though he's 68 now he's still a great voice and he hit the Bishop's low notes much better than I thought he would. His acting was great and I loved that we got to see him at Valjean's death scene too! It made so much more sense for the Bishop to be there instead of Eponine! Why would Eponine appear at Valjean's death scene anyway?! Valjean never even speaks to her in the book, and in the stage musical Eponine is disguised as a boy when she hands him Marius's letter to Cosette. I doubt Valjean would have even recognised her when she appeared as a girl!

I did feel sorry for George Blagden in this film though. I did really love his Grantaire but Blagden still doesn't get all that much screentime in this film. I was gutted that they took out Grantaire's solo verse in Drink With Me as well. It's my favourite part in the whole song and I would have much rather had them cut out Marius's verse instead! Also Blagden has a gorgeous voice -  please check out this link: And by not having the Drink With Me verse we don't get to see much tension between Grantaire and Enjolras. Grantaire's death scene with Enjolras wasn't as moving as I'd hoped it would be and I think it's because their relationship wasn't really touched on. The significance of the scene didn't come across.

Okay, I've covered the cast so I'll move on to other aspects of the film. Well, it certainly looked excellent and the production values were top-notch. It had a very authentically gritty look and feel. You see haggard-looking prostitutes and beggars with bad skin. You get a bloody but not too gory battle and some disturbingly realistic-looking sewage! Hooper really made the most of the cinematic medium too. The film is shot really well and Hooper made use of things that simply can't be done in the theatre. There are tracking shots and some big panorama shots. The opening scene with Valjean and the other convicts towing the ship in the water looked terrific as did the final scene with the massive barricade. You get a lot of close-ups of the actor's faces in this film as well. This was great because unless you're sitting very close to the front you simply can't see the expressions on the actor's faces in that much detail at the theatre. The close-ups really added to the emotion of the film. The sound mixing and editing was brilliant in this film too. I could clearly hear every single word that the actors were singing and the One Day More scene was brilliantly edited. It was amazing to watch!

I was of course thrilled by the added-in book details in this film too! Although the film is clearly based directly on the stage musical rather than the book itself, it still draws a lot of inspiration from Victor Hugo's novel. A lot of things from the book that aren't in the stage version have been included in this film. I really admire Tom Hooper for that because he could have simply decided to just make a faithful adaptation of the stage musical and no-one would have really complained. But he decided to go above and beyond the call of duty by including extra details drawn from the book and I loved that. The stage musical is already very faithful to the book anyway in my opinion, and because of the extra book details this film is now the most accurate adaptation of Victor Hugo's novel I've ever seen! I've already mentioned a few added-in book details already but there are lots of others that I haven't mentioned yet. Fantine sells her teeth in this film. Bamatabois shoves snow down Fantine's dress. Valjean isn't imprisoned on the Orion in this film but the way he escapes from Javert in The Confrontation was clearly a reference to how he escapes from the ship in the book. Valjean takes Young Cosette away from the Thenardiers' Inn at Christmas time and he buys her a doll. Valjean and Young Cosette sneak into the convent to hide from Javert and meet Fauchelevant. Gavroche's elephant is in this film. Eponine hides Cosette's letter to Marius. You see the Cafe Musain. The students gatecrash General Lamarque's funeral. Eponine saves Marius's life by taking a bullet for him. Valjean actually feels upset and threatened by Marius when he finds out that Cosette is in love with him (although he certainly gets over it much more quickly). Enjolras and Grantaire get shot by a firing squad like they do in the book. And there was an obvious reference to Thenardier "saving" the life of Marius's father in the sewer scene. Yay for these extra book details!

In fact the film does actually improve upon the stage musical in many ways. There are the extra book details for one thing and Cosette and Marius's characters are much better developed. There was also more historical backstory so I think newcomers to the film would have a slightly easier time understanding what was going on than someone going to see the stage version for the first time. For example: Gavroche got a great new verse in Look Down about how France got rid of the king and now there's a new king who's no better. It was also mentioned at one point that there are more Barricades in Paris than just the one that we see, that it's not just 20 odd students fighting the whole French army. The runaway cart scene is much better done in this film than it's done on stage as well; we didn't get someone shouting "Look out, it's a runaway cart!" and awkward slow motion. Also, in the Prologue scene Javert asks Valjean to perform a feat of strength so you know what Javert is thinking of when Valjean saves Fauchelevant. I Dreamed a Dream, On My Own and Do You Hear the People Sing? all made more sense in their new positions. I was very happy that Turning was cut down considerably. Those inaccurate lyrics about the students being silly, naive schoolboys who had never held guns before and didn't really know what they were doing were completely gone. I liked that the Thenardiers didn't even get any pity money from Marius at the wedding scene. After Marius punches Thenardier they're forcibly evicted. Their singing is defiant then rather than celebratory and I found that funnier. I preferred the ending as well. There's a massive barricade in Heaven with all of the characters who died singing. It's even more beautiful, uplifting and inspiring than the ending in the stage musical!

Is this film perfect? No, I don't think it is. I've pointed out a few flaws already but there are others. I thought that showing Fantine having sex between Lovely Ladies and I Dreamed a Dream was unnecessary but thankfully it was a very short scene. Also, some of the cuts that they made in this film were jarring and disappointed me. I understand that some cuts had to be made of course, and that they did need to make room for the extra book details, but I was still disappointed with some of them. I was sad that they took out Eponine's opening lines in On My Own - "And now I'm all alone again..." - because I've always loved these lines and it felt quite weird to have the song simply start with "On my own". They also took out my favourite lyrics from A Little Fall of Rain: "I'll sleep in your embrace at last/The rain that brings you here is heaven-blessed/The skies begin to clear and I'm at rest". I love these lyrics! I've already mentioned that Grantaire's verse being taken out of Drink With Me made me sad. Attack at Rue Plumet was cut to pieces and it started with "Who is this hussy?" rather than "This is his lair/I've seen the old fox around". That was another cut that felt really weird. Also, I've never really been a huge fan of Dog Eat Dog but it would have still been nice to have seen it all the same. The song shows the sinister, evil side of Thenardier's character. I'm hoping that there will be an extended edition DVD release of the film. There's an online fan petition for one - which I've signed - and Tom Hooper has mentioned that they shot a whole 4 hours worth of material for the film. He's said that he'd only consider putting 15 or 20 minutes back in though. As for me I'd at least like the extended edition to include Dog Eat Dog, more Enjolras and Grantaire scenes, and longer versions of Attack at Rue PlumetOn My Own and A Little Fall of Rain - just to make the film that little bit better.

However, this film is still amazing and beautiful and wonderful and it lived up to my expectations! Even though I've only seen it twice I can now say that it's one of my favourite films of all time and I'll definitely be buying it on DVD! Now I love the book, the stage version and the film! The film is a brilliant combination between the book and the stage musical and Tom Hooper clearly respected, understood and loved them both. I'll be forever grateful to him for directing this film. The film may not be perfect or flawless and I'm sure that they'll be times in the future when I'll want to watch this film on DVD and other times when I'll fancy watching my beloved 10th anniversary concert instead, on those occasions when I'll want belting and more powerful vocals and Philip Quast's Javert. But I loved the vast majority of the cast in this film and it gets so, so, so much right that it feels almost wrong to nitpick it. Things could have gone so badly wrong in this film! There could have been terrible casting, a script that removed lots of the songs, stupid changes for no good reason, bad orchestrations, autotuning... but that didn't happen. I absolutely adored this film and my friends and mum loved it too. The reviews I've read from fans have been mostly extremely positive and it seems that the general public has responded really well to this film as well.  I know people who haven't read the book and haven't seen the stage version that still loved this film. I'm so happy : )

Rating: 5/5

Tuesday, 1 January 2013

The Highlights of 2012

So the end of the 1st day of 2013 is almost over and I feel like reflecting on my personal highlights of 2012...

My Birthday
My 24th birthday was enjoyable but I preferred my 23rd. For my 24th I went to a bar called Bennetts with some friends from my church - and that was really nice - and then some of us went to a nightclub. My reason for going clubbing was because I had recently worked out that it had been two years since I'd last been clubbing and I felt like I was missing out. But when I went to the club and something amazing happened. It was like one of those lightbulb-flash-above-the-head moments that you see in cartoons. I realised that I hate clubbing and that I always have! I'd been in denial for years! I put this down to Survival mode because it's very difficult to admit that you hate clubbing at university. Clubbing was just something that I had to "suck up" because it was something that the majority of people around me did. If I'd actually admitted that I hadn't liked clubbing most of the people that I hung around with back then would have probably assumed that I was either boring and antisocial or that I mustn't like alcohol. This isn't at all true. I really enjoy doing things with friends. I like hanging out in cafes. I like movie nights-in. I like shopping with friends. I enjoy nice walks in the park. I'm not teetotal either. I will happily have a drink in bars and pubs. I will happily have a nice meal and a glass of wine with friends. I enjoy small house parties. But clubbing just isn't what I'd call fun. Sleazy, drunk men trying to grind up against you, overpriced drinks, sticky floors, a dance floor that smells of sweat, music so loud that you can't talk to your friends properly, and a friend who wants to take endless photos? No thanks!

So I didn't actually the nightclub part of it but I learned an important life lesson and that counts for something right? This year I'm going to see Les Miserables (!) for my birthday with friends and I imagine we'll have dinner too. So looking forward to that!

Various Theatre trips
I'm a bit of a theatre geek so the various shows I saw are definitely a highlight of 2012. I saw no bad ones. In London I saw Sweeney Todd and Les Miserables (for the second time). I also saw the touring production of Oliver! in Birmingham (where I'm from) and I saw the Phantom of the Opera 25th anniversary tour in Bristol.

I've already reviewed these shows on my Blog so I'm the only one that I'm going to comment on in any depth is Les Miserables. I had a great time seeing it and it was a brilliant experience. I saw it in November and with two friends. The cast were mostly excellent. It had a stronger all-round cast than the one I saw almost two years ago. The best performers were Danielle Hope, Geronimo Rauch, Sierrra Boggess and Tam Mutu. The performer that I was most looking forward to seeing was Sierra Boggess because I adore her as Christine Daae in the Phantom of the Opera 25th anniversary concert. I thought Boggess was excellent as Fantine. She has a beautiful voice and even though she's a soprano she can really belt it out. I liked her so much more than Caroline Sheen, who played Fantine when I last saw the show. I know some people like Caroline Sheen but I really didn't care for her voice. I prefer Boggess as Christine but I still enjoyed her Fantine and I'm really glad that I got to see her live. Danielle Hope was much better than I thought she'd be as Eponine. I wasn't blown away by her version of On My Own like I was when I heard Samantha Barks sing it live, but Hope still sang the song well and I really liked her acting. The role of Jean Valjean was played by Geronimo Rauch. He's Argentinian and I know he got rave reviews when he played Valjean in the Spanish production of Les Mis: Los Miserables. I really enjoyed Rauch's Valjean. He had a physical edge to him and that made him a lot more convincing as a convict in the prologue scenes than, say, Alfie Boe in the 25th anniversary concert. Rauch had a great voice and he sang with a lot of power and passion. His Spanish accent sometimes came out when he was singing but it didn't come out so much that it became distracting and over-the-top. The kids who played Young Cosette and Gavroche were good too and I really liked the Madame Thenardier. I think Linzi Hateley played her. The highlight for me though was Tam Mutu as Javert (Sierra Boggess's real-life fiancĂ©). He was amazing! I absolutely loved his portrayal of Javert's character! He came across as very driven and strong and he was stern but not too stern. You could see that he had emotions. He obviously wasn't playing Javert as a villain and he came across as very likeable. He had a strong, physical presence though and he didn't come across as a soft wussy. He has a brilliant singing voice too and he nailed Stars and Javert's Suicide, especially the latter. It was a really powerful scene and it was my favourite song in this particular production. There's a live recording of him singing it below. As for the rest of the cast, they were all fine. Not brilliant but fine.

I have theatre plans for 2013 of course. I really want to see Wicked in London again. It's one of my favourite musicals but I've only seen it once and that was way back in 2010. How time flies! Recently it was announced that the show will be touring the UK in late 2013 and early 2014. I'm sure I'll be seeing it if it comes to Birmingham but if I can afford it I'd like to see it in London before then, mainly because I've heard such good things about Gina Beck and Louise Dearman. Apparently Miss Saigon is supposed to be coming back to the West End in late 2013 and my mum has said she'll come with me if it does. I would love to see Miss Saigon even though I'm not hugely familiar with all of the songs. I should download the cast recording. Spamalot is another show I'm interested in too. I still haven't seen a proper comedy musical yet.

There are more local shows that I want to see as well. I've already booked to see the 25th anniversary Phantom of the Opera tour. I'll be seeing that at the Birmingham Hippodrome in March. I've also booked to see The Mousetrap at the Birmingham Alexandra theatre in February. I'm looking forward to that even if it is starring Bruno Langley. I'm an Agatha Christie fan and if a play's been running for 60 years then it must be doing something right. I really want to see War Horse as well. I keep checking the Hippodrome website to see when they'll finally going to release tickets to the general public.

The Lake District
In June I went on a little holiday with my mum to the Lake District. We were there for four days and stayed at a B&B in Windermere. I can't remember the name of the B&B now unfortunately because it was really nice and I'd like to give it a recommendation. We also visited Ambleside and Grasmere while we were there and went on a walk around one day. It's so beautiful there. Even though we had only had one proper sunny day we still had a great time. I have Sherlock to thank for this episode. My mum and I were watching The Hounds of Baskerville episode when we got the idea of a trip to the country : ) Some photos of the trip are below:

Learning French
I saved up for lessons at a language college. I've only been doing it for about four months now and I really enjoy it. I've got an ambition to learn a few languages but I'm concentrating on one for now. If I get any good I might do some blog posts in French.

Trips to Lincoln and Cardiff
I went to visit friends in these cities, Michaela in Lincoln and Helen in Cardiff. I've known Michaela since school and Helen is a friend from university, the only one I'm in touch with these days. I saw more of Cardiff than Lincoln and I like the city more (sorry Michaela!) Cardiff has some lovely Victorian arcades and it's a really great city. I'd have liked to have gone inside the castle but Helen's not into castles. We had a look around the city centre and the bay though. I got to go inside the gift shop at the Doctor Who exhibition though. But I did enjoy my time in Lincoln more because I was feeling down before I came and Michaela cheered me up. (is that better?!) A couple of photos from Cardiff:

Meeting Matt & Kayleigh. 
They're my new work colleagues and they're a married couple. They're both ridiculously nice and they've really helped to work a better environment. Everyone loves them. I do miss my old work colleague Susan (she's in Dundee now) but we've been writing letters to each other.

And now for some questions...

What was your greatest musical discovery of 2012?
I love Ben Howard! I've been pretty much listening to his Kingdom Come album none-stop. I've also - much to my surprise - recently gotten into the short-lived Lord of the Rings musical. It has some seriously great songs!

How did you spend Christmas of 2012?
With my family : )

What did you do for New Years' Eve, 2012?
It was a very quiet one for me. I just chilled at home in my pyjamas with junk food and watched TV. I don't make a big deal out of New Years' Eve.

What was the best book you read in 2012?
Books I read this year... Well, I absolutely loved Hunger Games and Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins but I was sorely disappointed with Mockingjay. I really enjoyed King Arthur and His Knights of the Round Table by Roger Lancelyn Green and The Mystery of the Yellow Room by Gaston Leroux. The Silmarillion by J.R.R. Tolkien was hard work but ultimately rewarding. Disturbingly I don't think I actually read all that much in 2012! New books anyway. I know I re-read some old favourites. I'm going to make more of an effort to read more in 2013.

What was your favourite TV show of 2012?
Sherlock. Waiting for the next series is going to kill me! A Scandal in Belgravia was really enjoyable even I wasn't keen on how they portrayed Sherlock and Irene Adler's relationship. Steven Moffat suggested that Sherlock had romantic feelings for Irene. Sure it was only implied and they left it reasonably open-ended but I'd have preferred it if they hadn't. Sherlock Holmes is asexual in the books. The Hounds of Baskerville and The Reichenbach Fall were incredible episodes though. Martin Freeman actually moved me to tears in his final scenes. And then of course there's Merlin: a show that I thought was crap a few years ago! How wrong was I?! I also adore Once Upon a Time and I'm currently going through Doctor Who boxsets. I must say I prefer the show now Steven Moffat's taken over. David Tennant is still my favourite Doctor but Russell T Davies just isn't that good a writer and the show was really inconsistent when he was in charge. For every Blink there was a Fear Her.

What were the best films you saw in 2012?
Hmm, films that I know I definitely saw this year....

Hunger Games - extremely faithful to the book and Jennifer Lawrence gives a flawless performance. She IS Katniss Everdeen!
Avengers Assemble - enjoyed this far more than I thought I would. It's funny and it looks absolutely incredible. Joss Whedon delivers for the big screen! I also loved Thor mainly because of Loki. Who wouldn't love a bad boy prince who's all misunderstood and really just wants to be loved?! And he looks like Tom Hiddleston too!
The Dark Knight Rises - awesome! All of the actors were outstanding. Anne Hathaway kicked ass as Catwoman. A brilliant end to The Dark Knight Trilogy, one of the few trilogies I can think of where all of the films are brilliant! Christopher Nolan = Genius.
Tangled - the best Disney film since The Hunchback of Notre Dame (I'm not counting the Pixar films). It's funny, it's touching, it has everything that we love about Disney! And I've never fancied a cartoon character more than I have with Flynn Rider!
Scott Pilgrim vs the World - Hilariously entertaining and such great fun! I loved it more than Hot Fuzz! (they were both directed by Edgar Wright).
Monty Python and the Holy Grail - We're Knights of the Round Table! We dance whenever we're able! We do routines and chorus scenes, the footwork impec-cable!
Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows - a VAST improvement on the first Guy Ritchie/Sherlock Holmes film. It still can't hold a candle to the BBC series but it's great fun and I'm actually kind of looking forward to the next film now (Gasp!)
The Hobbit - absolutely fantastic fun. I've loved the book since childhood and I believe the film did it justice.
Hugo - Saw this on Christmas Day. Martin Scorsese directs a family film and actually does a brilliant job. Asa Butterfield and Chloe Grace Moretz give two of the best performances I've ever seen from child actors. The film is a big love letter to cinema. I cinema and I loved this film.

What are the films you're most looking forward to seeing in 2013?
Les Mis! Also the next Hobbit film, Catching Fire and Thor 2. I think I might see Life of Pi too even though it's been ages since I last read the book.

Any new years' resolutions for 2013?
There's one but it probably won't be kept. To go to bed earlier and get up earlier. I tend to get up in the morning at the last possible minute and I then have to rush around in the morning and throw clothes on. It would be really nice to actually take my time in the morning and pick clothes at my own leisure. And not have to stress about missing the bus or it being on time!

What's a valuable life lesson that you've learned this year?
I've always had issues with self-confidence and self-esteem so a big lesson I learned is that God has a much higher opinion of me than I do of myself. I can be very hard on myself and I worry about things that I don't need to worry about.

Five Things I want to do in 2013:
Get a new job/career. I still really like the people who I work with but I am looking to move on and find a new career... only I don't know what I want to do as a career! A bit of an issue!
See more plays and musicals. I want to see at least three this year, hopefully more.
Go on holiday or go travelling for a bit. My mum's asked me if I want to go to New York and I'd love to go but it all depends on whether we can both afford it. Even if I can't go to New York I still want to go on holiday somewhere.
Read more new books. Looking back I don't think I actually read that many books in 2012, which is very troubling to me! I have to read so much more! Will aim for at least 3-4 books a month.
Spend more money on clothes. I've actually been told by my family that I spend far too little on clothes so I have an excuse!