My Top 10 Films of 2012

Another year of cinema is over and albeit, I still have a long list of films to plough through from 2012 (in fact many films from across a number of years) however, here is a list of my top 10 films of 2012!

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10. Twilight Breaking Dawn part 2

The final instalment of the Twilight franchise made its way onto our screens in November and it’s fair to say it was probably the best one out of the series. The end battle alone was brilliant, especially the ‘it was all a dream’ scenario that helped create it. The actors all stepped up their game (who would’ve thought Kristen Stewart would be less annoying as vampire Bella). Anyway, because of my support of the previous films, and that end battle sequence this sneaks my way onto my top 10.

“You nick-named my daughter after the Loch Ness daughter!” (Bella, Twilight Breaking Dawn part 2)

amazing-spider-man-movie-poster

9. The Amazing Spider-Man

The re-boot of the Spiderman series starring Andrew Garfield as Peter Parker was sandwiched between the other two major comic book movies of last year and was the weakest of the three movies. That certainly doesn’t mean it wasn’t brilliant though. I mean when you’re up against the juggernaut of Nolan’s Batman series and Marvel’s culmination of their master Phase 1 plan, helmed by the genius of Joss Whedon you know you have a lot to contend with. The film has a lot going for it – the chemistry of real life couple Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone (who plays Gwen Stacy) shines through on screen and Garfield is refreshing as Peter Parker, very different from Tobey Maguire’s version. Add the fact Martin Sheen brings a great performance as Uncle Ben, as well as a great supporting cast including Rhys Ifans and Denis Leary this movie brings intrigue as the mystery of Peter’s parents disappearance deepens. The sequel is set to be released in 2014 and with Jamie Foxx cast as the villain it promises to be one to see.

“We all have secrets: the ones we keep… and the ones that are kept from us.” (Peter Parker, The Amazing Spider-Man)

The Hobbit Review

8. The Hobbit

Peter Jackson returns us to the land of Middle Earth 10 years after the Lord of the Rings trilogy with Tolkein’s prequel and the tale of Bilbo Baggins’ extraordinary adventure. At first this book was going to be adapted into two films, but once filming was complete Jackson changed his mind, stating the wealth of material was enough for three films. The first instalment hit our screens, covering a mere six chapters of the novel, but encompassing a lot of other different sources along with it. It wasn’t as good as The Fellowship of the Ring, and some moments seemed a little self-indulgent, however it was entertaining and certainly took cinema-goers back to the land of Middle Earth. The next instalment comes out at the end of this year, and I’ll be waiting to see the third instalment before making a judgement on the films as a whole.

“I’m looking for someone to share in an adventure” (Gandalf, The Hobbit)

7. This Means War

This romantic comedy had everything – the fabulously gorgeous Reese Witherspoon who was in a bit of a pickle when she inadvertently starts dating two very attractive guys at the same time – it also helps that those two attractive guys are Chris Pine and Tom Hardy, best friends, who are also secret agents. The comedy is funny, sexy and an easy watch for a cosy night in!

“Sometimes falling is the best part.” (Tuck, This Means War)

6. The Hunger Games

The next big movie adaptation series after Twilight, the movie was one of the first biggest blockbusters and made a great start to the franchise. Jennifer Lawrence was brilliant as Catniss, the ‘girl on fire’, continuing her reign of Hollywood domination after X Men First Class. She was joined by Josh Hutcherson and Liam Hemsworth and star power of Stanley Tucci and Woody Harrelson. The movie sparked more intrigue into this already beloved book series, and the box office success ensured that the series got sequels, with the second film due out at the end of this year. Jennifer Lawrence has since gone to show she is not just a pretty face, capable of carrying a successful franchise, having been Oscar nominated for Silver Linings Playbook. Hopefully the next movie will live up to the first movie and help build on the franchise’s success.

“We salute your courage and your sacrifice and we wish you Happy Hunger Games!” (President Snow, The Hunger Games)

 

5. Looper

The sci-fi film starring Bruce Willis and Joseph Gordon-Levitt opened to fantastic reviews, and it deserved them; a great chemistry between Willis and Levitt, both playing the same character but older and younger versions of themselves. The intelligent writing and plot, and the other supporting cast including Emily Blunt meant that this became one of the most enjoyable movies of the year.

“Then I saw it, I saw a mom who would die for her son, a man who would kill for his wife, a boy, angry & alone, laid out in front of him the bad path. I saw it & the path was a circle, round & round. So I changed it.” (Joe, Looper)

4. Argo

As soon as I saw the trailer for this film, I knew I had to see it. Once I saw it, I thought it was amazing and saw potential for it to triumph at awards season. So far it is doing me proud, sweeping its way picking up award after award. The film itself is awesome, witty, darkly comedic and tense. My top 4 are very similar in their sheer awesomeness and I have my fingers crossed that Argo will triumph at the Oscars.

“If I’m going to make a fake movie, it’s going to be a fake hit.” (Lestor, Argo)

3. Skyfall

James Bond returned with a definite bang in the 23rd Bond film (Daniel Craig’s 3rd outing as 007), as Bond also celebrated its 50th anniversary. The movie helmed by Sam Mendes brought Bond back to its glory and cemented Craig as a Bond to remember. Add stellar performances from Judi Dench who in effect became the Bond girl of the movie and Javier Bardem as a chilling villain and you get Skyfall. Craig is already slated to return for at least another 2 Bond movies and with the same writing team behind those, surely things can only continue to be stronger for the James Bond franchise.

“Some men are coming to kill us. We’re going to kill them first.” (James Bond, Skyfall)

2. The Dark Knight Rises

My top two were very close but The Dark Knight Rises was just pipped to the number one spot. The ending to Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy was one I certainly couldn’t wait for (and the fact the film opened on my birthday also added to the excitement.) Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman and Gary Oldman returned to the film and Nolan added a couple other powerhouses including Joseph Gordon-Levitt as rookie cop John Blake, Tom Hardy as our villain Bane, completely transforming himself in the process, and the beautiful Anne Hathaway as Selina Kyle (aka Catwoman). The film albeit was not as good as The Dark Knight but quite honestly, it was always going to be tough to follow that. However, the film was still a major box office success and an amazing end to the Dark Knight trilogy that Nolan created, giving the Batman series a film to shout about, and restoring some of its darker themes.

“There’s a storm coming, Mr. Wayne. You and your friends better batten down the hatches, because when it hits, you’re all gonna wonder how you ever thought you could live so large and leave so little for the rest of us.” (Selina Kyle, The Dark Knight Rises)

1. Avengers Assemble

And finally….my number one choice. The first major superhero movie of the summer of 2012 and the culmination of Marvel’s phase one plan. As soon as it was announced that Joss Whedon was writing and directing the film, I knew it was going to be amazing and I felt proud knowing that a wider audience were finally going to see the awesomeness of Whedon’s work. Perhaps I’m biased towards him, but I honestly couldn’t care. The film incorporated Whedon’s wittiness and it matched perfectly to Robert Downey Jr. comedy finesse, add in the likes of Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johansson, and Tom Hiddelston and new to the series Mark Ruffalo (who made a fantastic Hulk) and Jeremy Renner and you have the groundings of a brilliant film. The ability for the cast, crew and Joss Whedon to tackle this mammoth task giving each one of the superhero characters fair screen time, and weave a great plot through the film just proves how awesome it is. It helped that the film did fantastically at the box office, thus giving Marvel the full green light to unleash Phase 2 with sequels for Iron Man, Captain America and Thor leading up to Avengers 2 again helmed by Whedon due out in 2015. The future certainly looks bright (and prosperous) for the Marvel franchise and I will be first in line for all of these movies.

“It’s good to meet you, Dr. Banner. Your work on anti-electron collisions is unparalleled. And I’m a huge fan of the way you lose control and turn into an enormous green rage monster.” (Tony Stark, The Avengers)

 

So there you have it, my top 10 films of 2012 – feel free to comment and let me know what your favourites were and if you agree/disagree!

 

 

Criminal Minds 8.12 ‘Zugzwang’

 

 

The popular CBS crime drama Criminal Minds is now half way through its 8th season and this episode is certainly one of the highlights of the season so far as it focuses on a case that is close to one of the team’s heart. Spencer Reid (Matthew Gray Gubler) has been dating a woman that he has never seen before, communicating only through phone conversations, but he is completely in love with her. The problem is she has been tormented by a stalker and in this episode, the stalker finally catches up to her and it’s a race against time to find her.

Before I launch into the episode review, I’ll give a little background to this show. The show is based around a team of FBI behavioural analyst’s whose job is to profile ‘unsubs’ – mostly murderers but also rapists and genuine psychopaths, travelling across America, solving cases, with mostly a new one each episode. The cast has seen some changes throughout its 8 seasons, with lead Mandy Patinkin (who played Jason Gideon) publicly leaving the show after its 2nd season. Its 3rd season saw Joe Mantegna (who plays the character David Rossi) join the cast, an addition which proved popular with show’s viewers. Actress Paget Brewster (who played Emily Prentiss) joined late in the 2nd season but decided to leave after the end of the 7th season, leading to new cast member Jeanne Tripplehorn (who plays Alex Blake) joining the team. Even though we have not heard much about Blake’s past, I’m warming slowly to her character, but like all fans of the show still miss Paget Brewster.  The show is intelligent and I personally think underrated. The writers come up with fresh new cases every week, even after 8 seasons, and sometimes I do wonder how they come up with some of the truly sickening and creepy storylines. The show also gets its fair share of high profile guest actors – ex Buffy actor Nicholas Brendon has a recurring role as Garcia’s on-off boyfriend; Jane Lynch as Reid’s mother and C. Thomas Howell as one of the most remembered unsubs, the Reaper.

This leads me on to this week’s episode, which I was happy to see features another ex-Buffy actor Michelle Trachtenberg as the mysterious stalker of Reid’s girlfriend Maeve. The episode focuses on Reid, but involves the entire team coming together in one of those great character-driven episodes, where we see the team come together as like a family. This show does what I think CSI fails at – even though we have different cases each week, the audience is emotionally invested in its characters because the writers allow the time for some character development and for relationships to build between the characters. At the beginning of the episode, we not only know that Reid is distressed about the situation, we can see the team feel for him too. Michelle Trachtenberg does a fantastic job as Maeve’s stalker Diane, truly believing herself to be wronged by her when the geneticist rejected her PHD thesis. It’s touching and heart-rending to see the lengths that Reid will go to and how uncharacteristically distressed, frustrated and angry he gets. In the end, even though the team find Maeve and Diane, Diane takes her own life along with Maeve’s in one single gun-shot. As the camera flashes to each one of the team’s disappointed, shocked and distressed faces, there anguish for their friend doesn’t prepare you for Reid’s distraught –it’s heartbreaking and certainly left me with a lump in my throat. This is certainly the closest that Reid has gotten to a relationship throughout the 8 seasons and it’s simply heartbreaking to see him lose the person he loves.

The fallout of Reid’s loss will be felt in the next episode, but the underlying storyline of an unsub stalking the entire team and copying crimes the team have already solved is exciting and interesting on so many levels. I truly hope this series keeps going from strength to strength as I love tuning in to a new episode every week.

Reid: Well Maeve is a somebody and this bitch is a nobody! (Criminal Minds 8.12)

Les Misérables

The grand, orchestration opening and the image of a ship being pulled by dozens of tired and oppressed men and the opening words of “Look Down” and already I had Goosebumps. This was a musical adaptation I was extremely looking forward to, potentially more for the fact that I love anything Anne Hathaway and Hugh Jackman are in, rather than my love for the musical. I have seen the stage version of Les Misérables but that was a couple of years ago and I didn’t follow it very well. Now that I’m older I felt I could appreciate it so much more and appreciate it I did!

The story spans across decades and is split into three sections – the first sees the protagonist Jean Valjean (Hugh Jackman) finishing his 19 year stint in prison after stealing a loaf of bread for himself and his sister’s family. Hugh Jackman really does look totally unrecognisable in the first 20 minutes of so – he lost a lot of weight and for the opening scene in the prison he didn’t drink any water for 36 hours beforehand to make him look as old and weary as possible. He is released from prison and from his jailer Javert (Russell Crowe). The first interaction between Russell Crowe and Hugh Jackman was fantastic and that standard was kept up throughout the entire movie. Their scenes together oozed hatred and tension and were electrifying to watch. The two characters are the two constants across the film. Valjean is at his lowest ebb – an ex-convict, he is met with prejudice and rejection at every turn until a chance encounter with a priest reignites his faith in God and in himself (personally his soliloquy is one of my favourite in this movie and left me feeling breathless with that last note).

The second section starts and it has been eight years since Valjean was released from prison and he is now a respectable businessman and at this point we meet Fantine (Anne Hathaway) perhaps the biggest ‘miserable’ in this musical. She has a small child that is living with innkeepers and she sends money to them, but after an altercation with the creepy foreman she is fired. In desperation she sells her possessions, her hair and even her teeth, turning to prostitution to make ends meet. Her performance of ‘I Dreamed A Dream’ is raw and heartbreaking. The anger at the way her life has turned out and the sadness radiates off her expressions and her vocals portray the same desperation and realness to Fantine’s plight. All in all she is on screen for around 15 minutes but her performance is breathtaking and after already picking up the Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actress I truly hope to see her stood on that Oscar stage with the award in her hand.

Fantine dies of exhaustion and disease, but before this she is found by Valjean and he promises to look after her child, Cosette. Whilst all this is going on, Valjean crosses paths with Jalvert again and a game of cat and mouse between the two characters is initiated, ongoing throughout the entire film. Valjean rescues Cosette from her life with the crooked innkeepers, (played by Sacha Baron Cohen and Helena Bonham Carter brilliantly, offering dark comedic humour whenever they pop up through the film) we jump nine years into the future where Valjean is older and greyer, and Cosette is a young woman (now played by Amanda Seyfried). The streets of Paris are filled with revolutionaries and we meet Eddie Redmayne’s Marius, who falls in love with the beautiful Cosette; this turns out to be extremely unfortunate for Eponine (played by Samantha Barks who some may remember from Andrew Llyoyd Webber’s search for Nancy) who is in fact in love with the young revolutionary. The three are locked in an agonizing love triangle, and Barks and Redmayne give a fantastic performance, both sounding beautiful and giving true emotions. Even though I am a fan of Seyfried, I have to say her portrayal of Cosette didn’t do a lot for me and as a character I wasn’t as emotionally invested in her as I was for other characters.

In the end, the revolutionaries all die horrible deaths at the barricade (including Eponine) with Marius escaping with the help of Valjean. Jalvert commits suicide and Marius and Cosette reunite and wed. Valjean retreats to die alone, but just before he dies, Marius and Cosette find him and he dies, the movie ending with a heart-warming rendition of ‘Do you Hear the People Sing’ from those that died through the film. The director Tom Hooper does a marvellous job brining everything together; the live music really makes the performances more real and gives it extra emotion. The one criticism I can give is the sets within the streets of Paris seem very small and you can almost sense the fact they are soundstages. However, once you get past this the movie takes you on a rollercoaster and hopefully revolutionises movie musicals, encouraging more to take the same approach as Hooper and allow the actors to sing live. You leave the movie feeling emotionally drained and I would recommend this movie for anyone that is a fan of a good musical.

 

Jean Valjean: My name is Jean Valjean.

Jalvert: And I am Jalvert. Do not forget my name. Do not forget ME….24601 (Les Misérables)

Tis the Season for Awards

For the longest time now the months of January and February have brought one of my favourite times of year – film awards season! It all kicks off properly this Sunday with the Golden Globes, but this past week has seen the nominations for the BAFTA’s and the Oscars come out so I thought it was appropriate to run down the main contenders for the tops awards across the board.

 

Lincoln

Steven Spielberg’s biopic about US President Abraham Lincoln is certainly one of the frontrunners for best film – it’s nominated for Best Picture across the major awards and Daniel Day-Lewis’ powerhouse performance as President Lincoln is quite possibly the one to beat in the Best Actor category. Sally Field and Tommy Lee Jones are also nominated in the Best Supporting categories. Spielberg has been a bit hit and miss with getting nominations for Best Director – he hit jackpot with an Oscar nod and Golden Globe, but was left out of the BAFTA nominations. However, I feel Lincoln will have a healthy awards season and tonight’s Globes could be the start of that.

Zero Dark Thirty

Kathryn Bigelow’s drama about the search for Osama Bin Laden, the biggest man hunt seen in recent years is also a very high possibility for Best Picture. It star Jessica Chastain is certainly one of the frontrunners for Best Actress given her stellar performance and Kathryn Bigelow could also potentially walk away with an award of two for her direction of the film. Sadly though, she won’t be winning her second Oscar as she was surprisingly snubbed in this year’s nominations.

 

Argo

Ben Afflek’s true story drama based around the Iranian hostage situation in the late 70’s could snake in and take Best Picture as it has started to pick up momentum in some of the smaller awards ceremonies. Alan Arkin has picked up an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor and Aflek has gotten several nominations for Best Director and even picked up a BAFTA Best Actor nomination. However, shockingly he is also not in the running for Best Director at the Oscars, a snub which perhaps comes down to the fact he is an actor turned director. However, I really hope this film does well – It’s such an awesome film and it deserves some recognition.

 

 

Silver Linings Playbook

David O. Russell’s comedy starring Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper had great critical reviews when it first came out and also stands a good chance at picking up some Best Picture awards, particulary at tonight’s Globes as the Best Film is split into drama and comedy – with the only film surely standing in its way being Les Misérables. Lawrence and Cooper both stand a good chance at Best Actor/Actress, particularly tonight at the Golden Globes when the categories are split.

 

 

 

Les Misérables

Tom Hooper’s movie based on the musical has also picked up Best Picture nominations across the board but Hooper has failed to pick up a lot of Best Director nominations. It stands a chance in the Best Song category with ‘Suddenly’ the new song specifically wrote for the film (and this award). Anne Hathaway is certainly the frontrunner in the Best Supporting Actress category for her amazing performance in this film, and Hugh Jackman has also picked up several nominations for Best Actor, including an Oscar nod. He certainly gives the performance of his career and he stands an even bigger shot of picking up the Globe with the categories again split into drama and comedy/musical.

 

 

 

Life of Pi

Ang Lee’s film looks visually stunning, and having picked up nominations from across the board he’s certainly in the race. However, I think this film will probably take some of the less dominant awards such as Cinematography and Visual Effects.

 

 

 

 

 

The Master

It seems nominations for this film have favoured the actors more so with Joaquin Pheonix, Amy Adams and Phillip Seymour Hoffman getting nominations left, right and centre for their roles in this film. Hoffman is probably the most likely to pick up something as Adams will be mostly up against the juggernaut train that is Anne Hathaway and Phoenix will be up again heavyweights Day-Lewis and Bradley Cooper.

 

 

 

Django Unchained

Tarantino’s latest film has had a mixed bag in this awards season – despite Leonardo DiCaprio giving a wonderful performance he failed to pick up a lot of nominations, with the Academy snubbing him in the Best Supporting Actor category in favour of his co-star Christoph Waltz. Tarantino himself also failed to get a nomination from the Academy for Best Director, but nonetheless he could still pick up a few wins in over ceremonies.

 

 

There is the main contenders for this year’s awards – as the season goes on, and we build to the finale that is the Academy Awards, we’ll have more of an inclination about who and what will take the big awards. I know I’ll certainly be keeping a close eye on everything.

The People’s Choice Awards: The Winners….

So last night saw the People’s Choice Awards winners announced. There were some very deserving winners, some unsuspected winners, some questionable winners and some downright, WRONG winners – can anyone guess who I may mean by this?

Yes you’ve guessed it: the TWI-HARDS!!! Okay, yes I am biased, as a loyal Potterhead I am slightly distraught that we were not accepting the award BUT at least there was a tiny link to HP with Robert Pattinson being involved. Even still, we should have won.

The other big shocker for me was the winner of Best Movie Franchise, going to The Hunger Games…er hello?! They only have 1 film out, they haven’t been around very long, you can’t buy everything in the form of the Hunger Games, and to top it off, THEY DON’T HAVE A THEME PARK. I would have been quite happy if HP lost to Twilight, I can see how that franchise could be top of the list – I even own a Twilight bed spread, but I mean The Hunger Games? Come on, get real?!

Some other, very deserving winners included the beautiful Jenifer Aniston for Favorite Comedic Movie Actress; Big Bang Theory for Favorite Network TV Comedy and Ellen DeGeneres for Favorite Daytime TV host. In the music realm Katy Perry wiped the floor, claiming 4 awards, including her Katycats winning Favorite Fan Following and Taylor Swift scooped up Favorite Country Artist – I mean really, who else was going to win that one?

I accept I am bias as to who I love, but in the end aren’t we all? Take a look at the winners and decide for yourself.

Favorite Comedic Movie Actress: Jennifer Aniston

Favorite Comedic Movie Actor: Adam Sandler

Favorite Comedic Movie : Ted

Favorite Movie Actress: Jennifer Lawrence

Favorite Movie Actor: Robert Downey Jr.

Favorite Movie Icon: Meryl Streep

Favorite Movie: The Hunger Games

Favorite Movie Franchise: The Hunger Games

Favorite Action Movie Star: Chris Hemsworth

Favorite Action Movie: The Hunger Games

Favorite Dramatic Movie Actress: Emma Watson

Favorite Dramatic Movie Actor: Zac Efron

Favorite Dramatic Movie: Perks of Being a Wallflower

Favorite Movie Fan Following: Twi-hards, Twilight

Favorite Comedic TV Actress: Lea Michele

Favorite Comedic TV Actor: Chris Colfer

Favorite Cable TV Comedy: A wkward

Favorite Network TV Comedy: The Big Bang Theory

Favorite New TV Comedy: The New Normal

Favorite Dramatic TV Actress: Ellen Pompeo

Favorite Dramatic TV Actor: Nathan Fillion

Favorite Network TV Drama: Grey’s Anatomy

Favorite Cable TV Drama: Leverage

Favorite New TV Drama: Beauty and the Beast

Favorite TV Crime Drama: Castle

Favorite Premium Cable TV Show: True Blood

Favorite Sci-Fi/Fantasy TV Show: Supernatural

Favorite Competition TV Show: The X Factor

Favorite Celebrity Judge: Demi Lovato

Favorite TV Fan Following: SPNFamily, Supernatural

Favorite Daytime TV Host: Ellen DeGeneres

Favorite Late Night Talk-Show Host: Jimmy Fallon

Favorite New Talk-Show Host: Steve Harvey

Favorite Male Artist: Jason Mraz

Favorite Female Artist: Katy Perry

Favorite Country Artist: Taylor Swift

Favorite Pop Artist: Katy Perry

Favorite R&B Artist: Rihanna

Favorite Hip-Hop Artist: Nicki Minaj

Favorite Band: Maroon 5

Favorite Breakout Artist: The Wanted

Favorite Album: Up All Night , One Direction

Favorite Song: “What Makes You Beautiful,” One Direction

Favorite Music Video: “Part of Me,” Katy Perry

Favorite Music Fan Following: KatyCats, Katy Perry

Favorite Superhero: Robert Downey Jr., Iron Man

Favorite Face of Heroism: Jennifer Lawrence, The Hunger Games

People’s Voice Award: Christina Aguilera

Favorite Onscreen Chemistry: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, The Hunger Games

Favorite Humanitarian: Sandra Bullock

 

Doctor Who: The Snowmen Christmas Special

After the first half of Season 7 aired with the departure of Amy Pond and Rory Williams, Doctor Who returned for its Christmas Special with the official introduction of Jenna-Louise Coleman as the new companion – Cara.

The episode opens with a nice new title sequence (with a spot of Matt Smith’s face in it) and reconfigured music, to prepare for this year’s 50th Anniversary.  We see a Doctor that still carries the painful memories of The Angels Take Manhattan and Clara almost steps into the shoes of the Doctor for the episode – she isn’t surprised by what she finds something we don’t see in new companions. She leads the Doctor out of his sadness and into the mystery that unfolds over the hour regarding the snow. She also leads a double life, adding to her character’s mystery. By the time the Doctor has allowed himself to let her in, she is cruelly taking away and you can see the hurt returning as he loses yet another person who he has let in. By the end of the episode however, he has figured out that Clara is in fact the same girl from Asylum of the Daleks (thanks to a few carefully placed lines from Moffat). The special ends with a tantalising teaser of what’s to come for the rest of Season 7, which should air around March/April of 2013.

This Christmas Special was certainly a cracker under the tree – I’ve always thought the Christmas Specials have never been as good since the Christmas Invasion (maybe because that’s when my true love affair with David Tennant started?) However, this year’s had me hooked from the beginning thanks to a few choice gems thrown in: first off Richard E. Grant was deliciously creepy and it is such a shame we can’t see more of him. But it looks the true baddie of the episode the Great Intelligence will be back (and hopefully we’ll get Ian McKellon’s iconic booming voice back!) It is also fair to say that a new spin off could be well on the way thanks to the epic comedy and partnership of Madame Vastra, Jenny and Strax. Matt Smith is still on form, but it truly is Jenna that steals this episode. She’s just as incredible as she was in the opening of Season 7 – she’s charming, inquisitive, funny and not afraid to stand up to the Doctor. I cannot wait to watch her every week, and I think she will be a companion to remember.

With this year bringing the 50th Anniversary of Doctor Who, the latter half of this series will lead to some interesting questions and storylines for the Anniversary special in November. Possible storylines are already being speculated on, but Moffat and the Who team are keeping things very tight. With the possibility of previous Doctor’s and companions returning, and what monsters/villains will come out of the woodwork, I am very intrigued as to the next instalment of Doctor Who.

 

Clara: (about the TARDIS) It’s smaller on the outside (Doctor Who)

Raven Boys….

A couple of years ago I was browsing the shelves of Waterstones searching for a book with an attractive cover and I came across Maggie Stiefvater’s SHIVER. Twilight had just finished and I was a bit worried about reading something with another werewolf in it… I mean they can all get quite tedious after a while – but I thought I’d take the challenge and see what was inside.

So two years-ish later, I am on her 7th book and I’m still wanting more! I must admit, the first three books were so amazing I was expecting big things from her next series, and things did slide, so I was very apprehensive when I took this – however I was always waiting/trusting that she would bring herself back up to the same level as the Shiver trilogy. And fiannally she has!

Raven Boys was epic. I picked the book up, started turning pages and didn’t stop until I’d finished it! I was gripped throughout. Straight away I was in love with Blue, I wanted the Raven boys to be my friends, to hang out with me; I wanted to be part of their gang – it’s been a long time since I wanted to be in a book!

The ONLY downside was the very last chapter. Now, bearing in mind I was unaware that a sequel is to follow, I was very disappointed in the end. I felt as though Maggie had just given up on her story. Nothing was explained, things that I thought were going to happen didn’t, I felt as though half of the book was missing.

Chapter 47 – we were in the middle of the forest being told the King we’d been searching for was ours. Chapter 48 – we’re burying, digging up and reburying Noah’s bones?! It was very strange, I would have rather been left hanging on chapter 47. It does make sense that there is another book coming out, and it was the first thing I thought when I finished it, but it was a rather peculiar way to finish the story.

Despite this, Maggie Stiefvater is still one of my favourite writers, and I wait in anticipation for the sequel to this fantastic novel.

the-raven-boys-book-cover

The Hobbit Review

Peter Jackson brings us back into the world of Tolkein 10 years after The Fellowship of the Ring was first released. New Zealand still looks amazing on screen – the familiar surroundings of Hobbiton, the great hilly plains, Rivendell and those amazing set pieces are still a integral part of Jackson’s interpretation of Tolkein.

Along with some familiar faces from the Lord of the Rings series such as Ian McKellon, Hugo Weaving, Cate Blanchett and Christopher Lee (as well as a cameo from Elijah Wood and Ian Holm) we get the perfectly cast Martin Freeman as Bilbo Baggins, the reluctant hobbit who’s catapulted into the adventure of a lifetime. He’s a perfect representation of a hobbit, completely down-to-earth, positive and inquisitive – a contrast to an always moody Frodo. We also have the gang of dwarves, loveable and loud, each with their own personality and character. We have the delicious and delectable Richard Armitage as Thorin, the leader of the dwarves: to me Armitage is the Viggo Mortesen/Aragorn of these movies – he has a great story arc and doesn’t disappoint. After being a fan of his for a while, I’m glad he’s been given a big stage such as this to shine on. The company of dwarves, Gandalf and Bilbo are trying to take back Erebor, the true home of the dwarves from the dragon Smaug. We get a glimpse of it in the beginning of the movie and even if it was only on screen for 5 minutes, the shots of Erebor look spectacular. James Nesbitt and Aidan Turner also star as two of the 12 dwarf company and also Slyvester McCoy stars as the eccentric, but loveable wizard Radagast, putting in a spirited performance (who didn’t think Sebastian the hedgehog was cute).

The first 40 minutes or so of the film for me, dragged a little – even though it was nice to see Elijah Wood back in his Frodo outfit I thought it was a little indulgent and unnecessary. Although I suppose thinking back to Fellowship of the Ring the first part of that is certainly not as exciting as the rest of it.  The introduction of the dwarves and their songs, and also the opening tale of Smaug taking over Erebor were the highlights for me, and it isn’t really until the sequence with the trolls that the movie picks up the pace building the excitement and tension, turning it into a movie of epic proportions – those shots of the company running across the plain from the pack of Orcs are stunning. The feeling of epic crops up constantly in the movie, from those mountain battle scenes, to the scenes in the cavernous home of the Orcs. Throughout the movie you get the feeling of love and care from the dwarf company – they are constantly bantering, and joking around and I really enjoyed the interaction with the different personalities coming through.

One sequence that had to be a stand out was the ‘Riddles in the Dark’ scene which saw the return of Andy Serkis as Gollum. Serkis slips right back into the role and despite the scene only lasting around 10 minutes it was a stand out for the film. It’s tension-building, it’s character driven and wonderfully performed, showing the film does not need to rely on huge action pieces.

Fans of Lord of the Rings that have not necessarily read The Hobbit can certainly get their geek moments with mentions of the mines of Moria, the moment that Bilbo gets the ring, the sword that glows when orcs are near that Frodo inherits, Mr Bilbo’s trolls, (I’m pretty sure we see Weathertop), and the mention of the Witch King and his sword.

Even though I haven’t read The Hobbit (I plan to) I can’t imagine there are many deleted or extended scenes. This film only covers the first six chapters of the novel, with Jackson choosing to flesh out the story using various sources of Tolkein material, to give the story the feel of it being a prequel to Rings trilogy. It will be interesting to see the rest of the trilogy unfold and I think only after we have seen the full 3 films, we will know whether the trilogy was fully necessary or more of an indulgence. Even so, I think it is definitely worth sitting through the 2 hour 50 minutes to see this film – even if you haven’t read the book, it’s easy enough to follow and especially if you’re a fan of LOTR you should certainly see this film.

Thorin: I cannot guarantee his safety.
Gandalf: Understood.
Thorin: Nor will I be responsible for his fate.
Gandalf: Agreed.    (The Hobbit)