Who Am I? – Les Miserables

Les Misérables - Official Poster - from IMDB.com

Les Misérables – Official Poster – from IMDB.com

Les Misérables (2012)

Director: Tom Hooper
Writers: Claude-Michel Schönberg (book) & Alain Boublil (book) & Victor Hugo (novel) & Herbert Kretzmer (lyrics) & Alain Boublil (original: French text) & Jean-Marc Natel (original: French text) & James Fenton (additional text) & William Nicholson (screenplay)
Stars: Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe and Anne Hathaway

I have always loved musicals. I grew up watching Judy Garland, Gene Kelly, Frank Sinatra, Fred Astaire, etc, and loved everyone of them, good and bad. My favourite film is Singin’ In The Rain and will continue to be until my life’s end. I say that in order to justify my instant love of Les Misérables. I have never seen it on stage but I have had friends in the past who have raved about it.  I now understand why.

Although there are parts of the film which could be improved, *cough Russell Crowe cough*, the musical is adapted onto film brilliantly. It has a raw and gritty quality to it which makes the story feel real and grounded in history. The music is beautiful and the integration of story-telling with the music is seamless. Hugh Jackman does a great job of Jean Valjean and really carries the film and us with him on the journey of his hard life. However, the kids in the film are what really make it for me. Daniel Huttlestone (Gavroche) and Isabelle Allen (young Cosette) are incredible little talents. They come alive on screen and steal every scene they are in, especially Daniel.

The best thing about this film is that it has real heart. I cried, nay, I sobbed as Eddie Redmayne sang about how his friends would never sing again. Oh my gosh did I sob! Every moment was breathtaking and heartbreaking and heartwarming and oh just everything! It wasn’t that this was a brilliant film, or a brilliant musical, but it is a great story, well told, and in a lot of ways that is what films should be, even musicals.

4/5

Advertisements

See it in 3D – The Hobbit

The Hobbit - An Unexpected Journey - Official Poster - from IMDB.com

The Hobbit – An Unexpected Journey – Official Poster – from IMDB.com

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012)

Director: Peter Jackson
Writers: Fran Walsh (screenplay), Phillipa Boyens (screenplay), Peter Jackson (screenplay), Guillermo del Toro (screenplay), JRR Tolkien (story)
Stars: Martin Freeman, Ian McKellen, Richard Armitage, Andy Serkis.

When the Lord of The Rings films first came out ten years ago they really blew me away as the first epic adventure film that I had seen on the big screen. I still remember sitting through them, watching Legolas swing around that horse and climb up the oliphaunt and shot an arrow through its head. It was an adventure story and wondrous to behold on the big screen. However, in the opening scenes of The Hobbit my jaw dropped as the landscape and action came alive on the screen. Seeing this film in 3D is essential. Mainly because the story is padded out so much that there are moments when you can sit back and enjoy the visuals. Don’t get me wrong, sure the story of the Hobbit is great, but three films is a little excessive.

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey gives the back story to Bilbo Baggins. It is Bilbo’s story, but Jackson and his co-creators decided that they needed to give it context within the Lord of The Rings films, this is so very unnecessary even though I love seeing Elijah Wood as Frodo again. The story of Bilbo is exciting and adventurous in the book, and Jackson has brought it to life visually, but instead of making it fast paced and exciting like we are now used to, he has slowed the pace in between the big action scenes. I’m really not sure whether them stretching the short novel out into three movies is a good thing or it will just be laborious when it comes to the end of the third film but I have very mixed feelings about this first installment. I both enjoyed the ride and the visuals but also felt the length of the film and knowing there are another two to come over the next few years gave me a sense of tedium as I sat through the last half hour. The Hobbit as a story is meant to be a tale of adventure and discovery of what it means to belong for children but it hasn’t been treated this way and it loses it’s childish charm in a lot of ways because of the slowness of the telling of the film. Martin Freeman is brilliant, as is the rest of the cast, but all in all Jackson should have gone back to Tolkien’s original ideal in The Hobbit rather than trying to make it The Lord Of The Rings again. Jackson has overlooked the difference in Tolkien’s writing and purpose from The Hobbit and The Lord Of The Rings.

3/5

Hope, Wonder, Fun, Delight – Rise of the Guardians

Rise Of The Guardians - Official Poster - from IMDB.com

Rise Of The Guardians – Official Poster – from IMDB.com

Rise of the Guardians (2012)

Director: Peter Ramsey
Writers: David Lindsay-Abaire (screenplay), William Joyce (book)
Stars: Hugh Jackman, Chris Pine, Alec Baldwin and Isla Fisher

There is something wonderful about children’s films. They are delightful to get swept up in, especially when they are good. Rise Of The Guardians is a joy to watch. It’s not the best animated film ever but it has everything it needs to make you smile and laugh as well as teach you lessons about what is good to believe in. The morals infused in every character are at the forefront of this story as we travel with Jack Frost (voiced by Chris Pine) as he discovers who he truly is and why he is chosen to be a guardian of the children of the world.

Jack joins North (Santa, voiced by Alec Baldwin), Tooth (The Tooth Fairy, voiced by Isla Fisher), Sandman (not voiced, but wonderfully animated!), and Bunny (The Easter Bunny, voiced by Hugh Jackman), as they battle Pitch (The Boogeyman, voiced by Jude Law) who has taken it upon himself to torture and torment children with fear and nightmares. There is a great narrative progression through this film and it throws you around through the tunnels of children’s belief and their determination to believe in the core of each of these folklores. It is uplifting and cheery and has some great characters, although a little underdeveloped for my liking.

With Christmas creeping up incredibly quickly this is a great film for the family to see together as it refocuses both children and parents on what the festive seasons we celebrate in western culture represent. The wonder and delight of children are what we really aim for at Christmas, but we also love to reawaken that childish fun in ourselves over the Christmas and New Year period. Rise of The Guardians is not just a Christmas film but it certainly does hold all those little goodies that make Christmas movies so great and what make children films so beautiful.

3.7/5

Swing, batter, batter, yawn – Trouble With The Curve

Trouble With The Curve – Official Poster – from IMDB.com

Trouble With The Curve (2012)

Director: Robert Lorenz
Writer: Randy Brown
Stars: Clint Eastwood, Amy Adams, Justin Timberlake and John Goodman

You would think that after starring in and directing some of the most acclaimed films of the last few decades, Clint Eastwood would be able to tell whether or not a movie was worth making or not. There are dozens of sports films out there, there are dozens of romcoms and dramas out there, and as I step into another film that I haven’t really heard of I hear myself asking “Is it really necessary that we have another one enter the world?”

The thing with RomComs and Dramas is that each one, although it may be formulaic and predictable, will appeal to its audience members in different ways. Trouble With The Curve is a story of an old hat baseball scout who is trying to stay in the game whilst his eyesight is failing and his bosses try and squeeze him out. Gus (Clint Eastwood) is joined by his daughter, Mickey (Amy Adams), on a last hurrah as a baseball scout before his eyes go. Their relationship is rocky to say the least. Mickey is a hotshot lawyer but has mountains of daddy issues and really just wants to do what he does. Their relationship is strained and their communication skills need serious work. But it’s a sweet kind of relationship that forms over the film, as you know it will. And it is the predictability of this film that makes it feel longer than it actually is. It is sweet at points and you do come to like the characters enough to want the happy ending for them, but you know from the opening moments of the film that it is approaching and it takes a lot of energy to care about the characters when you know their problems will be gone in an hours time.

John Goodman provides a stand out supporting role as always and Matthew Lillard, although he plays an incredible annoying and dislikable character, does it splendidly and so must be commended on making his audience hate him. Amy Adams plays a wonderfully strong female character which I love but is pushed down somewhat by the forced love interest of Justin Timberlake. Timberlake may be an okay actor but I felt the love interest was commercial and crowd appeasing more than anything else.

2.5/5