Posts Tagged With: Reviews

Les Misérables – A Review

Finally, I got to see the musical Les Misérables! I had wanted so see it since I came here, but I waited for somebody to accompany me for too long. I have only two weeks to go, so I decided to go alone. I went to the early show and I had the perfect seat: Upper Circle, front row in the centre.  I had to lean forward, but that was quite comfortable.

I love the music, the story and the characters; it was a very powerful performance. I tried very hard not to cry, but of course I failed miserably –just like the girl sitting next to me. We were sobbing in unison at the end. Even though I know the story and I had watched the movie a few months ago, it was still so very touching and I was excited to see how they would perform certain things – for example Javert’s last song.

Compared to the movie cast, I liked most of the actors equally. The only one I preferred in the movie was Russell Crowe as Javert, he was just amazing. Eddie Redmayne was an amazing Marius, but I liked the singing voice of the musical actor better. The costumes were stunning and the backgrounds were incredible. They had a turning stage in the form of a circle. So you got to see what was happening in front of the barricades or behind in turns. Compared to the Phantom of the Opera, it was even better in terms of stage setting. All the different sets were very realistic and believable, no matter whether it was the House of the Innkeepers or the sewer system.

The show was almost sold out I think, which is just another sign for how much people love Les Mis. The actors got standing ovations at the end and it was well deserved. Les Misérables now officially is my favourite musical of all times, placing Wicked as second. I can only recommend everybody to go see it if you haven’t – or see it again if you have. It is well worth the money and time. You should also go and buy the DVD or Bluray of the movie, which will be released tomorrow (13th of May)!

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The Phantom of the Opera – A Review

I had always loved the movie and the music, so I was excited to go to this musical. I went with my friend who was here for the weekend, but unfortunately we were running late – so that we were quite literally running to the theatre to get there on time. We barely made it, but we had to stumble to our seats in darkness, for the musical was about to start. So we didn’t get to enjoy the whole experience of waiting in anticipation for the show.

But in any case, we still enjoyed the musical. We had seats rather high up in the Grand circle, and we couldn’t see the left corner of the stage. Since the important stuff always happens in the center, I didn’t mind. They had great costumes and I wanted to get backstage and steal half of the dresses the actresses wore. Wonderfully coloured and sparkling and all. Really lovely.  I also admired the background setting; they had some kind of 3D-drawing of the beams and curtains and all that. It created a great atmosphere. And the candles in the basement where the Phantom lives, that was rather impressive! I liked the overall setting.

What I didn’t particularly like were the actors. Christine was beautiful, but her voice was not right. She completely ruined “Think of me”, which is one of my favourite songs, and that was disappointing. She hit the notes all right, but the emotion was somehow lacking. The Phantom was also not that great. He seemed to be rather short, same height as Christine, which didn’t impress me. He is supposed to be tall and intimidating, not that smallish. His voice wasn’t as resonant as I had hoped. The others were fine and I wouldn’t complain about them. I guess I just had the voices of the actors in the movie in my mind and they were simply different.

Overall, I enjoyed the show, despite those small drawbacks. I had a lovely evening with one of my favourite stories when it comes to musicals (and of course with my favourite friend from my hometown!). I recommend the show to everybody who likes the classical type of musicals.

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The Host – A Review

If you have not read the book or seen the movie, be warned that this review contains spoilers.

Friday morning, I went to see the Host with two of my friends. I had read the book (the German version) a few years back and was anticipating this movie. I had followed the casting process before and was not completely happy with the outcome, but I still wanted to see how they had portrayed the story. I enjoyed the book very much (even though I was very reserved, considering it is the author of that bloody twilight series), so I hoped for a good movie.

The cinema was empty, since we were there around noon. We were watching the subtitles version, which bothered me slightly at the beginning, but faded into the background after a while.

My overall impression was very positive; they stuck to most of the story and changed only a few details (as far as I could tell, I have to reread the book to be certain), but I felt that some depth was missing. The movie seemed a bit rushed, even though it is about two hours long. The relationships between the characters seemed shallow and not too convincing, especially between Wanda and Ian. In the book, I was completely taken by it – in the movie, it felt awkward. I was a bit disappointed.

Of course, I realize that in a book, you have more time to explain all that happens on a deeper level, but still. There were a few other details that didn’t quite fit. The seekers have shiny transportation. Meaning: silver cars, motorcycles, trucks and helicopters. That’s fine, but they are not only shiny, but they are also self-cleaning: you can drive them through the desert and they are spotless afterwards. Amazing, right? Mum, Dad, I want such a car, too!

I liked the way they portrayed the souls. Those little wormlike thinks with their tentacles. That’s pretty much how I imagined it. I was, however, not pleased with Wanda in the end. She was supposed to be blond! Why did they change that to brunette? It makes no sense!  That really disappointed me.

Cinematography and all that was fine, they had some lovely landscape shots in there and the cave system was beautifully done. So all in all, I enjoyed the movie, but it will not be my favourite. It didn’t move me as much as the book did, but it is a movie that you can watch while slouching on the sofa.

Unfortunately, my friend mentioned a certain Stargate story that is very, very close to this one and was published quite a long time before the Host. That made the whole book and movie kind of lame. Who likes people who just copy? I don’t. I still like the book, but I don’t see it as a creative piece of art anymore.

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My book review blog

My book review blog

Hey guys, I have started another blog for book reviews. I wanted to do this for a very long time and now I finally did it! Feel free to visit me there.

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Lincoln – A Review

If you have not yet seen the movie Lincoln, please be aware that this review might contain spoilers.

Watching this movie was a very spontaneous idea and I didn’t have much time to contemplate whether I actually want to see it or not. I have seen the trailer several times and the short sequences they showed during the BAFTA awarding session. It seemed intriguing, but my lack of knowledge of the Civil War and Abolition of Slavery deterred me from being overly interested in this movie. I have heard from several people that this movie had brilliant actors but that the overall story was rather boring. With that in mind, I went to see it.

It was not boring at all. Yes, it is a movie with rather few action scenes. There is not much blood gushing about or explosions tearing human flesh apart. It is not a movie about the Civil War. It is a movie about humanity: about emotions, hope, despair and the pressure of being the leader of a nation. It is also a movie about politics. But even though I don’t care much for politics and never understood what is going on behind the doors of Congresses or Parliaments, this movie kept me interested and wondering what would happen next. It was delightful to see the genius but also childish mind of Lincoln, conveying wise and grave truths through little stories, playing with his son while waiting for the results of the vote that would change the world.

It is a confusing movie, as well. There are so many characters and it was hard for me to keep up with who was who. That might seem boring to other people, because boring is easier to say than “too intellectual for me to keep up”. There are brilliant dialogues, even though I didn’t always understand what they talked about.

I very much liked the alternating sides of Lincoln the father and husband and Lincoln the president. It is a portrayal of a man who carried the weight of the world on his shoulders – and the weight of a family on top of that.

The end was quite abrupt, I have to say. I would have liked to see more of the people’s reaction to Lincoln’s death. Not in any cheesy way, but I was a bit disappointed that they showed only the younger son and the wife grieving. What happened to the firstborn?

In conclusion, I was clearly not disappointed and didn’t find the movie boring. The actors were indeed splendid and Daniel Day-Lewis very much deserves the BAFTA award for Best Actor. It is a challenging movie that requires you to use your mind while watching it. I guess since quite a few people are not used to doing this in the cinema, the movie is deprived of the credit it deserves.

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Life of Pi – A Review

If you have not yet seen the movie Life of Pi, you might not want to read this review, it contains spoiler!

This is not one of the movies I had anticipated and wanted to watch for a long time, but the trailer was rather fascinating and since it won some of the BAFTA awards, I figured it was time to see it. We didn’t book in advance and we were late (not my fault, though, I was waiting for 30 minutes for the others to arrive), so there were only seats in the front row left. I very much dislike this perspective, especially since we were seated to the right; it was all a bit disproportioned.

But let’s come to the movie itself. It’s a very strong movie, with amazing digital effects and I am sure it was inspired by Disney’s Fantasia: the colorful jellyfish which are glowing in the night, the huge whale that is jumping over the boat, the swirling states and visions between reality and dream. Those picturesque moments alternate with the harsh reality of surviving and not being eaten by a tiger. The tiger is truly stunning, both fiercely beautiful and terrifying.

There are parts in the movie that I thought were too much, too unrealistic. The most prominent of those is the island where Pi and the tiger land on during their journey. I don’t know if it is a myth among Hindus or in India, maybe there was a meaning behind this, but for me that was just weird.

I very much liked the ending. There are two stories Pi tells and the spectator can decide for him- or herself which one is preferred and believed the truth. It is in some way like Inception where you have to decide in the end whether you believe Leo DiCaprio is in the reality or a dream. So in Life of Pi, you have to choose to either believe the rather fantastic story of a journey with a tiger or the more rational one. I haven’t decided yet. Maybe because I am both a rational and imaginative person and I just can’t decide for one or the other. Maybe I believe in both.

In any case, I liked the movie. It is not my favorite and I wasn’t completely overwhelmed by awe, but it was great to watch, especially with the 3D effects. It is a movie where you can be pensive and contemplate about life and faith, but it is also a movie where you can just sit back and enjoy the photography and the action. The young actor, Suraj Sharma, is amazing and the BAFTAs for Cinematography and Special Visual Effects are well deserved. So if you have nothing to do on the weekend, why not go watch Life of Pi?

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Billy Elliot Musical: A Review

This is my personal review of the Billy Elliot Musical. If you have not yet seen the Musical or the movie and plan on enjoying it in the future, please do not read further. This text contains spoilers.

Yesterday I went to see the Billy Elliot Musical at the Victoria Palace Theatre, which was quite an experience. Let me start with the venue. The Theatre itself is a very beautiful and old building, from the inside as well as the outside. We had tickets on the Dress Circle, which is on the upper level. The seats had a very good view on the stage, not exactly in the centre but a bit to the right. I tried to take some pictures, but the lightning conditions were unfavourable.

I have seen the movie several times (though never the ending), so I knew what the story was about and I had some expectations. I have to say that what we witnessed was completely different from my expectations and it left me speechless at parts. Unfortunately, not in a very positive way.

The show started out nice enough, introducing Billy and his neighbourhood and the general setting of the story, in the middle of the miners’ strike in 1984. In the first half, there were already quite a few comical aspects to the story that I found odd. The girls in the ballet class are all frilly girls who can’t dance but giggle and scream with high pitched voices. Billy has a best friend who cross-dresses and quite obviously is gay. This is however portrayed so extravagantly that it just seems ridiculous (huge, man-sized dresses dancing around them in a glittery rain).

During the short break, I discussed what we’ve seen so far with my neighbours. We were all not really sure what to make of it yet. I liked the music and the dancing in general. The singing wasn’t particularly enchanting, but I always love parts when there is polyphonic singing and choirs.

The second part started off with a Christmas party. Everybody was hopping around in elf costumes or as Father Christmas. The little girls were angels with glittering wings. The whole lot was singing “Merry Christmas, Margaret Thatcher”. While I know who she was and what the scene was supposed to tell me, it was just too much for me. I watched flabbergasted. They had puppets which showed the fight between police and miners and a huuuuuuge Margaret Thatcher puppet wobbling around in the background. For a minute I thought I was in the wrong show. But then Billy showed up and I sadly realised that this was part of it…

There were some more nice scenes in the second part and Billy had some astounding and fantastic dance solos. And yes, I laughed at some of the jokes as well. But as my friend pointed out later, it was pretty predictable. The dialogue between Billy’s father and the father of another auditioning boy for example: miner versus wealthy upper class man. They each had problems understanding the other man’s accent, pretending they got it and then asking “Pardon? What?”

At the audition was another ridiculed gay man, some helper who took care of the music and who walked with those “typical” gay gestures. Yes, very funny, haha. Maybe I really don’t know much about the time and society at that time, but it saddened and angered me to see that the “gays” in the show were there for pure amusement and had no depth to them. The same applies for the grandmother. I remember that in the movie she is encouraging Billy because she herself wanted to be a dancer once. In the Musical, she was pretty much just a doddering old woman who ate moulded pastries.

The show ends with Billy going away to the Royal Ballet School. It does not show what he accomplishes as it does in the movie (apparently, because I never saw that part). I believe it is somehow implied in the second half when Billy dances with an older version of himself during practise. Like a vision of what he might become. It also ends with him giving a kiss to his best friend, which is completely weird because Billy is NOT gay. This however leaves the spectator with the image of “all ballet boys are/become gay”.

So in summary I can say I was not satisfied with the show. I acknowledge the overall performance and respectfully raise my hat to the young actor who played Billy. It is simply amazing what he did and does. Dancing, singing and acting for almost 3 hours straight and that at the age of thirteen. We were privileged to see his premiere performance in London, as he had only recently come over from Broadway.

I am very glad that I saw it nonetheless. It was an experience and I daresay I won’t forget it. Not all musicals can appeal to all spectators. And now I will rewatch Billy Elliot the movie for the fourth time and finally see the ending as well. It has been two years since I last saw it and it might just be that my memory betrays me and the movie is not as serious as I remember it. Maybe the show is not as far from the movie as I believe. I hope that this review does not discourage anybody to see the Musical. Most people I talked to loved it and would gladly go and see it again and I have to stress that I wasn’t completely disappointed. It is still a nice show to watch and particularly the setting was very impressive.

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