Monday, 30 May 2016

'Alice Through The Looking Glass' 2016 [MOVIE REVIEW]

[Warning. May Contain Spoilers]

Love it or hate it, Disney live action movies have been around since 1950 and to me are the most magical and impressive Disney productions. To watch Treasure Island, then Flubber and now the recent releases like Alice Through the Looking Glass and see all of the technological advances is simply astounding. The stories, of course, are just as compelling today as they were over 60 years ago, so why people are still complaining about 'live action' movies being made or live action counter parts of the animated classics, I don't get. Time and time again Disney has proved that they are top of the game, knocking it out of the park with each new movie.
That being said, how could anyone not be super jazzed to see Alice's latest adventures?! Check out the insane trailer below before reading on for my personal thoughts of the movie.

If you hadn't put two and two together, I have been a pretty big Wonderland fan for a long time - urmm...'Underland to Wonderland' anyone? I've been excited for Alice's next adventures in Underland since the sequel was announced (and I'm already looking forward to the next in the series which has been hinted at by producer Suzanne Todd) so we booked our tickets online as soon as they were available and headed down to Newcastle to see it on Saturday.
We took the opportunity to see in it 3D which was the right choice, despite the killer eye and headache that ensued, as there were many moments that really benefited from the extra effects.

When I originally heard that Tim Burton was not returning to direct (he did work on the movie as a producer however) after his masterpiece that was Alice in Wonderland in 2010, I was a little worried as to how Underland would now be perceived, but James Bobin not only managed to keep the darkly whimsical world alive, he also added his own stamp with the use of a lot more beautiful sets instead of relying on CGI as much. Reading all of the sadly negative professional reviews I am confused as to what these people were watching and whether they actually understand the whole concept of a Wonderland?
Personally, I was pleasantly surprised about the whole storyline. The trailers really didn't give too much away at all and I had wondered how the whole concept of 'Time' (the character, not the thing that goes too fast) would be included in the plot. I loved that although we didn't see as much of all of Alice's friends, the plot was focused around The Hatter and his family - the ever present Disney moral, this time being to always believe the impossible is possible.

The cast was pretty much the same as the first movie, thankfully everyone reprised their roles, with a few fab additions including Sacha Baron Cohen as 'Time'. I'd assume that most people will agree that when you think of him, you think of Ali G, Borat and Bruno...which are terribly non-Disney friendly. Therefore, I was skeptical which I needn't have been. He played a brilliant part, showcasing an alternative view to his usually comedic appearance which I think stole the show.
Johnny Depp, although evidently a seasoned actor who has shown how diverse he is, also showed a different side to the Hatter's character. The depressed and vulnerable Hatter was emotional to witness, his family orientated storyline reminding us that we only get one and to cherish our time with them.
With it being a whole 6 years since we first met Mia Wasikowska as our Alice, she has gone from being just out of her teens to a stunning, 26 year old woman, Alice growing with her as an even more headstrong, eccentric lady successful in her crazy quests.
I can't not mention how lovely it was to hear Alan Rickman's voice as Absolem one last time, even if it was only a couple lines. That and the dedication to him at the end were two moments I soaked my tissue through haha.

As I touched upon earlier and you can see in the B-Roll below, there were a lot more real sets built for this movie, all of which had such wonderful character and detail limiting the need for as many effects. Reminiscent of Diagonal alley meets Burton's Willy Wonka, it's bright and kooky, just right for a wonderful Underland. On the other hand, where CGI was involved the quality was pretty much on par with that used in the recent Jungle Book release, especially the scenes of castle where Time lives. Yes, it is more fantastical than the realistic Jungle Book but the CGI is well done non the less.

'All frosting, no cake'. 'Smoke and mirrors'. 'Little in the way of heart'. All of these have come from 'professional' reviews I've read and make me think that these people would be the type who nit picked over ever single thing that was left out of the Harry Potter movies. Focusing so much on the Lewis Carroll books rather than seeing the production as a stand-alone story, they have missed the sentimentality and beautiful friendships, among awesome effects and compelling plot. Like many others before it and I'm sure many others after it, this is not an accurate book adaptation but who wants that? Carroll's stories are classics that I for one would much rather see left untouched.

In conclusion, Alice's literal race against time to travel to the past and help find out what happened to the Hatter's family is full of discoveries and life lessons. We see more of the characters backgrounds, why they are how they are and are introduced to different sides of them.
I love the sporadic return to reality (whatever reality may be...:P) with the mini adventure breaking up our intense time in Underland.
My main advice to anyone hoping to see this is to not take children. Yes, the rating may be PG but with a dark and serious tone, mild threat and a the odd curse word as well as a deep story, I think younger viewers would find it hard to follow or stay interested in. Even slightly scary. The brand 'Disney' seems to be getting more and more misconstrued as people automaticaly think of the animated classics, rather than other movies that are written and made for adults not kids.
Oh and don't listen to negative reviews. Always watch something and decide for yourself!

Have you seen Alice Through the Looking Glass yet? What were your thoughts on it? If not, will you be going to see it?

Sunday, 29 May 2016

Weekly Reflections // Week 86

May 22nd - 28th

Favorite Photo

Top Thankful or Happy Moments.
Walking into the middle of the river (while tide was out) to photograph the new visitor; a black swan!
A sunny walk to the garden centre & play with the football for Bman.
Getting rid of my chest pains.
Alice Through the Looking Glass in 3D with Mam and Laura.
Obligatory CeX visit and DVD haul!
Baker hugs & Netflix after a long day away.

What I've Watched. 
[!] Alice Through the Looking Glass 1987     ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
[!] Harry Potter and the Order of the Pheonix     ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
[!] Man of the House 1995     ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
[!] A Kid in King Arthur's Court     ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
[!] Alice Through the Looking Glass 2016     ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Other Articles etc of Interest.
Posts from the Past.
Favorite post from this week - When Kerri Came to Town
This week in 2015 -  'Tomorrowland' 2015 [Movie Review]
This week in 2014 - My Cousin; The Dancer.
This week in 2013 - TAG! - The Disney Tag

Friday, 27 May 2016

My Disney Media Collection

As you can tell by the title (duh) this is my Disney media collection. Books, DVDs and VHS, and I wasn't sure whether I should put this collection together as a video or a blog post. The last time I shared a section of my Disney merchandise I filmed it - you can see my Disney Soft Toy Collection video here - but I have long since stopped making videos and at this moment in time don't think I'll have the confidence to sit down and do it again. Therefore, you have it in blog post form and I hope it'll do.

Jumping right in, the first part of this collection is my VHS tapes. I was brought up with Disney, therefore, the majority of these are my own from my childhood though a couple are additions from recent years. Someone in my local area had been clearing their attic and was getting rid of a few titles that I didn't already own so I snapped them up. Not many people understand why I actively take on movies that I can't really watch anymore (what with having no VCR) and to be honest I have no answer to my collecting habits bar the fact I just want them haha.
I do aim to collect all of the animated classics as well as those live action classics that are sadly not available on DVD (*cough* Song of the South *cough*) but will not be paying much, if anything, for them if I can help it.

Next, DVDs. I was so overjoyed to finally complete my 53 animated classics collection last year, which was all done on a budget. Only around 5-10%  of all movies I buy now are bought full price so although I could have maybe got them all a lot sooner if I wanted, it made finishing off that shelf extra exciting when it was done money consciously.
I've, surprisingly, had many questions regarding living life this way so perhaps I'll do a separate post on how to be a Disney fan without having a money tree :P

While I had the odd live-action/non-classic already, I only consciously started to build that part of my collection after completing the afor mentioned. I tend to like to do things in sections, it's actually kind of an obsessive type of how I check that I've locked things a million times.
Pixar movies have usually been added when taking advantage of the likes of HMV's '5 for £20' deals or as gifts and obviously there isn't a huge amount of those so the collection was pretty easy and cheap to complete. The last few that I needed were found in charity shops or bought 2nd hand via Amazon.

Of course, when there are well over 300 productions with more and more being released by the year, I don't expect this to be an overnight thing. To me, this is a hobby and the whole searching for my missing pieces is as much fun as organizing them by date they came out and watching them :)

Books make up the last and smallest part of my media collection. I had a lot more as a kid but who knew one day I'd become a hoarder of Disney memorabilia?! These are the handful I have and am not actively adding to this collection as of now. That doesn't mean that I wouldn't grab one if I saw it for super cheap!

So yeah, that's it folks! I hope it wasn't too boring to pass as a reasonable blog post and I'll look forward to looking back on this in a year or so and see how my collection has grown. I'd love to hear about your media collections so feel free to leave lots of links in the comments.
Oh, last but not least, I have a good non-Disney stash of DVDs and books too. Let me know if that would be something of interest to you and I'll whip up that post in a couple months.

[Since taking these photos I have new additions already, so maybe I'll do a part 2 in 6 months to a years time]

Wednesday, 25 May 2016

YouTube Videos You Need To See #28

Enjoy yet more amazing videos that I've favorited over the past month or so! I hope they make you smile, inspire you and make you happy!!

The Best Type of 'Misleading' Title! Praise Mother Earth!!

Love When Celebs Can Have Fun Like This.

This is CRAZY, But I Love It! 

A Good News Story About An Amazing Teen.

A Real Life Disney Story if Ever There Was One <3

Behind the Scenes With the Talented Performers From the Best Musical Ever.

Drown Out the Preachers!

Amazing Deaf Dog Learns Signing & Gets a Family!

Brilliant Video to Understand What Autism Can Be Like.

I Love How Johnny Depp is Always Up For Some Fun!

Monday, 23 May 2016

When Kerri Came to Town

 Get ready for a load of photo spam! This post is just purely a dumping ground for some of the shots I took when my friend Kerri (of Life as Unusuals) came to visit and explore my town with me, as I wanted to share a range of photos from throughout the day which are pretty random.
There will be a separate post in coming weeks about our visit to The Barracks but, for now, I'll let you have a nosey through our nature and history walk. 

[Click the image above to see it larger]

It was so lovely to finally meet Kerri. Someone who I have become great friends with over the past year and before she even met me, had booked to come on holiday to Disneyland Paris with us this winter. I really don't cope well, like at all, in social situations, meeting people or whatever (which is why I turn down every invite to blogger events haha), but when I met Kerri at the station it was a little surreal how relaxed it was.
We had a walk through the coronation garden where the public hangings used to take place, through the remains of our castle and along the river toward my house. After a quick turn around, we fed the ducks before walking anti-clockwise around the town walls toward the Barracks. I was a little overly excited to meet 2 male Chaffinches as well as a female! It's been a long time since I've seen any, the last actually being in Kielder. 

Thank you Kerri for making the journey all the way up here! I look forward to seeing you again in 190 days ;)

Sunday, 22 May 2016

Weekly Reflections // Week 85

May 15th - 21st

Favorite Photo

Top Thankful or Happy Moments.
Baker's first dip in the sea this year.
The council finally emptying the bin by the ducks!
Things coming together for our next charity event
Breakfast with Mam
A little Wood Pigeon garden guest
Jake being the spider-getter
Full House marathon-ing
After 4 years, finally having better internet
Cake for breakfast
A 2nd hand hunt

What I've Watched. 
[!] Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone     ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
[!] Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets     ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
[!] Halloweentown High     ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
[!] Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban     ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
[!] Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire     ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
[!] Twitches     ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
[!] Twitches Too     ⭐️⭐️⭐️

Other Articles etc of Interest.
This week in 2014 -  Take a Peek into My Memory Box...
This week in 2013 - My Top 5 - 90s TV Shows

Friday, 20 May 2016

Mary Poppins the Musical, Festival Theatre, Edinburgh

Considering I'm not exactly a theatre/musical/stage show fan, I have indeed attended my 2nd within 6 months now haha! My Mam and I saw The Lion King at the Lyceum Theatre, London for her birthday in December - something we'd wanted to see for years (see the review here) - but we didn't expect to be back in a theatre until the Aladdin musical starts to tour...and that'll be a long time.
It was just on a whim that we decided to book for Mary Poppins when I saw an advert pop up on my Facebook. After all, it is one of my all time favourite live action movies, with some of the best songs in a film ever. (Oh, and the tickets were pretty reasonably priced too.)

The day came around pretty fast and what with it being in one of the only cities I actually like (read - can cope with), Edinburgh, I was extra excited. Despite having passed the theatre on past occasions, I'd never really paid much attention or realised that it was, in fact, a doesn't really look like one after all. I have to admit that I am more inclined to traditional buildings so the modern glass frontage doesn't appeal to me, still, the inside was as breathtaking as I'd hoped.

At this point, I have to tell you about our seats...or more so who was seated next to us. Not only did we have the angriest woman alive in front of us with her two rude and nosey kids, I had an overly enthusiastic man with no regard for other people's personal space or boundaries to my left. It was bad enough that he kept trying to tell anyone within earshot what happened in the show (which annoyed me because although I already knew, they are better as surprises!) but he was also shouting to his mother who was sat 3 rows in front, right up until it started.
It didn't stop there, though! Oh no. For the entirety of the show he clapped, cheered and kept shouting 'oh yes, that's good. I like that!'...and I don't mean when everyone else was clapping and cheering, this was at moments where the rest of the audience were silent.
I personally just thought it was rather rude and what with my issues with being in public/social situations it made my time at the theatre pretty uncomfortable. I will not let that affect my review at all, however, so after that rather long tangent, let's get on with it.

Unlike The Lion King, I was going into Mary Poppins with little prior knowledge and no recommendations or stories from other people. I'd watched the under-a-minute teasers on Facebook/YouTube, which of course looked bright and beautiful but that was it.
From the get go the scenes and props were top notch! The magic/ 'effects' were fabulously fun and the style of it all was whimsical and different while still fitting into the period in which the story is set.
The use of props including Mary's famous umbrella, measuring tape and, of course, bag is excellent from beginning to end - I loved that these were included, as not everything from the original classic story were...which I'll touch upon later.
As for the cast, well! Zizi Strallen as Mary had been raved about in reviews but what with Julie Andrews being who I associate as being Mary, I was skeptical. I needn't of been. She was practically perfect!! In fact, the casting on a whole was equally as brilliant as that of the Lion King. Vocalists, dancers, actors - top notch. Obviously, though, I mean it is a West End Disney show!
I found that some of the characters had the direction switched a little and I wasn't the biggest fan of that. The children were naughtier and Winifred more uptight or worrisome which correlated with the personality of the mother shown in 'Saving Mr Banks', as opposed to the strong and lively lady that Glynis Johns brought to life in 1964. My personal favorite characters were Bert portrayed by Matt Lee, Mrs Brill (the cook) portrayed by Wendy Ferguson and George Banks who was played by Milo Twomey.

I guess I'd better talk about the story itself? If you are like me and adore the Walt Disney adaptation of the legendary PL Travers books, do not go into this expecting to see that. Before you say 'duhh', I didn't expect to see animated penguins or whatever but I'll admit to being disappointed when some of my pinnacle moments had been axed completely, replaced with wacky, modern scenes. Don't get me wrong it's all still astoundingly done, I just would have (selfishly) liked to see the moments so close to my heart.
If you know me, you might be aware of my extreme emotions and how I cry very easily. Well, you won't believe me when I say I didn't cry until we saw the bird woman!! That is how different this production is, reducing the sentimentality.

Overall, Cameron Mackintosh has created an exciting and ever magical show, bringing it right into the present day, merging some of the songs and characters we know and love with catchy new numbers and different characters to get to know. The dance sequences are choreographed exquisitely, my favorite being the Step in Time rooftop part.
I've tried my best not to mention many specifics in an aim not to ruin anything so if you do plan to see this show while it is on tour, I urge you not to look at too much information before you go so as not to ruin special moments.
Let me know if you have been or are going and your thoughts!

Wednesday, 18 May 2016

My Life in Photos // April 2016

For April's day in photos I almost took you on my little solo adventure to the cinema, but as last month's post was a city trip I decided against it. So this day was Monday the 18th and it was a fun filled day of housework, walkies and checking the parents house while they were away on holiday!
Let me know what you think of these posts and if there's any kind of day, in particular, you'd like to follow me around.

1 // Sun is up and so am I. Off to work, listening to many different birds talking in the trees.
2 // Doing anything has been difficult with my wrist pain but especially hoovering at work!
3 // My blog posts all auto-post, but I was so excited about my Jungle Book review that I had to pop on the laptop and double check it!
4 // Before I sit down and can't get back up again, I'd better get some washing on, the kitchen cleaned and the hoovering done.

5 // Baker helped me get the last few fat balls out for our birdy friends, just look how lovely a day it is!
6 // Time to hang the washing out :) Thank goodness for a dry, sunny and breezy day.
7 // As I missed breakfast we decided on brunch. I had a peanut butter sandwich and Baker had some peanut butter too.
8 // Some basic make-up and clothing on ready for our day properly.

9 // (Apologies for the over exposure) I took this photo without really being able to see as it was so lovely and sunny out! 
10 // We walked up to check on my parent's house and Baker had lunch. Then we had a play in the garden with his ball while I knicked one of Mam and Dad's ice creams :P
11 // It was nice to have a quick catch up with Claire before we headed home.
12 // Just another view of my beautiful town! I have walked from just beside that furthest away bridge to the top of this hill and now we have to go back again.

13 // Almost home and Baker loves to watch the big boats in the docks. 
14 // Just in the door and straight onto Hangouts to chat with Mam and Dad!
15 // And finally, a much-needed seat on the sofa while I watched a movie and put the finishing touches to some work.
16 // 9pm and the sun is still awake but I'm off to bed.

This was one of the best days I've had lately. Despite trying to always uphold a positive vibe and choosing happiness, I have actually been rather down lately, a day like today was just what I needed.
What has been your best day recently?? Tell me about it!