Burlesque (2010)

There are some big stars in ‘Burlesque’: Cher, Christina Aguilera, Kristen Bell, Julianne Hough (‘Rock of Ages’ and ‘Footloose’), Stanley Tucci, Diana Agron (‘Glee’), Alan Cumming. The main protagonist, Ali, played by Christina Aguilera, leaves her hometown to pursue a life in singing in Hollywood, LA. She goes from working at a little café to the big city itself, she finds herself walking into a Burlesque lounge and quickly becomes determined to be one of the women up on stage. The women lip-sync and dance to the music as entertainment for the audience, the club celebrates the ability of dance and performance.

I think that everyone will agree that Christina Aguilera in a singing performance is always outstanding. Her voice is phenomenal, I would even go as far to say that she is one of the best female singers of all time, definitely in the top ten! Therefore, Aguilera in a musical is a match made in heaven, when she’s singing, she cannot be faulted. It’s just a shame when her character isn’t the best on screen. Throughout performances, the audience are captivated by her voice, but Ali as a character was a miss for me. I understand she is supposed to represent an extremely driven character, she didn’t travel all the way to Hollywood to fail and she would do anything to showcase her talents on stage and she does get there pretty rapidly. But along the way, she became a bit annoying to watch. She would do anything to get her own way, which was too much on the extreme side for me. Her character didn’t seem to have the same flow throughout the film, one minute she’d be flirty, then angry with the same person flirting back, but then annoyed when he wasn’t. Her whole character seemed to go up and down constantly which didn’t make much sense to me.

Behind the curtain of the Burlesque club is the owner trying to hold the entire show together. This character, Tess, is played by Cher. I’m sorry to say, I’m not a big fan of Cher. Yes, she’s got some brilliant tunes, such as ‘Believe’ and ‘If I Could Turn Back Time’, which will always be in my daily playlist. But with Cher on screen, I couldn’t connect to her emotionally, and just found that her acting really wasn’t that great. The next star is Kristen Bell, who I do love as an actress. Differing from her usually blonde romantic girly girl or romcom presence, Kristen Bell played the snidey, bitter performer who always loves the centre of attention and gets a little irritated when the spotlight moves away from her. Kristen Bell plays the character amazingly well and even though it was weird to see her in such a different light, she was not a mistake to have in this film at all! Then there’s Stanley Tucci who kind of plays Tess’ sidekick, although he is so much more than that. Sean (Tucci) is a brilliant character of honesty and kindness and a little comedy – he’s such an enjoyment to have on screen. Finally, Julianne Hough was an excellent choice, again, to have on screen. All of her performances are brilliant as we all know her dancing shows no faults.

The overall plot of the film is a little weak. The romance element of the film didn’t even bring the ‘fluttery heart sensation’ – I didn’t care if they ended up together or not, and usually I’m a big fan of a soppy romcom. There was also a weird twinge to the colour of the film, it felt very saturated to watch. I didn’t hate the film, there are positives and negatives. The performances are good and as I said Christina Aguilera singing is always mesmerising. It’s not a film to be remembered forever… Which is a shame as with such big stars in it, it could have been a hugely successful film.

Cats (2019)

Well this film has created a bit of controversy and whisper in the air hasn’t it?! Everyone wants to see it for themselves. “Is it really that bad?” “It must be amazing as the theatre show is renowned for its brilliance!” Well yes, the theatre show is renowned for its brilliance, but unfortunately the show has nothing to do with the film, other than a loose connection in its name.

‘Cats’ is a film which has based all of its efforts in stardom. Stardom such as Taylor Swift, Idris Elba, Rebel Wilson, Dame Judi Dench, Jennifer Hudson, Ian McKellen, James Corden, Jason Derulo. But when stardom is all the effort, other aspects of the movie are lost. What is the film about? Isn’t that the question on everyone’s lips and can anyone that has seen the film actually answer this question? Well, it’s quite difficult. But I’m going to try… We meet loads of cats, who sing and dance. All the cats start to gather to attend the Jellicle Ball where a cat becomes crowned the Jellicle cat who then can fly in a balloon into the skies to reach the Heaviside Layer to start a new life. What any of that actually means, I have no idea.

Cats 2

I understand performance is key in a musical and ‘Cats’ does hit all the right notes. I enjoyed many of the little performances (although some did seem to go on a bit long). However, there were way too many performances crammed into one film. ‘Cats’ just then became a montage of lots of snippet performances in no particular sequence. In theatre, a performance one after another live is phenomenal and magical, but this didn’t seem to present itself as good on screen. The multiple performances seemed to get lost in translation, where I was getting a bit bored of the non-stop songs by the end, especially when there didn’t seem to have a change of tune. Nevertheless, there were some enjoyable performances, such as a bit of tapdancing, which was thoroughly entertaining. James Corden and Rebel Wilson’s performances were also fun with comedy splashed throughout. Next, the encouraging of Mr Mistoffelees’ (Laurie Davidson) magical powers was a touching performance. Lastly, we cannot forget the phenomenal voice of Jennifer Hudson which was full of emotion (but there wasn’t a need for the repeat in the same song as it is slow).

The whole film seems to be revolved around one cat in particular: Victoria (Francesca Hayward). I have no idea why everything was revolved around her and there didn’t seem to be any character background for the audience to cling to as our main protagonist. Yes, she could sing and yes, she could dance. But all the other cats seemed to be infatuated by this new cat and there wasn’t any clear reasoning why or justification for this random new obsession.

Happily, there were some giggle-worthy moments. Actors such as Rebel Wilson and James Corden have to hold some comedy element and they do indeed in this film. This, however, does not make this film a comedy, but it was a breath of fresh air with some small comedy gimmicks from these two beloved stars. They were enjoyable cats to watch on screen.

Cats 1

Overall, there were enjoyable elements of the film, but there were many other parts of the film which weren’t. The ending went on for too long. Jennifer Hudson, even though an emotional performance, was crying to the point where it looked like snot was on her face. They put DAME Judi Dench in some weird cat suit which made her look like a lion. The whole CGI effects of the film didn’t seem up to standard to make it the spectacle it was supposed to be. The plot was loose and didn’t make much sense, I was confused for the first thirty minutes and just accepted that there wasn’t going to be any logic by the middle of the film. The summary of the ‘bad guy’ of the film was silly and seemed rushed. Also, sad to say, but Taylor Swift’s character was irrelevant. On the other hand, I didn’t hate everything. Mr Mistoffelees was a character who grew and was understood, James Corden and Rebel Wilson brought some comedy elements, and some of the performances were mesmerising to watch. Nevertheless, the first thing you need to get used to is the way that these cat/humans look. I’ve watched it once and I think that is enough for me.

The Lion King (2019)

As Disney are doing remakes, I think everyone was excited to find that Disney’s next project was the classic ‘The Lion King’ from 1994. Everyone must know the story of ‘The Lion King’ – it contains one of the most distressing moments in Disney films, the death of a beloved lion king. This film only makes this moment seem more real, more heart-breaking in Simba’s pleas for help and Mufasa’s stillness in the gorge.

The Lion King 2019 - Simba and Zazu

This film is so visually pleasing, it’s a beautiful film in its special effects. It follows the 1994 version extremely accurately. Except there are a few differences, which are happily welcomed. There seems to be more of a context, a background story, between Scar and Mufasa. Additionally, there are a few new songs. The songs are taken a little more realistically, rather than animals standing upon each other like in ‘I Just Can’t Wait To Be King’ – where in the animation this was a fantastic spectacle, the new film takes a turn in adding to this realistic feel of these Pride Lands. ‘In the Jungle’ was a brilliant scene, with the animals dancing, the immense jungle in which the “outcasts” have been left with is stunning and explored during this song amongst other scenes. I cannot forget to mention the little snap of a beloved song from another Disney film, which I loved!

Now with the songs, as it is a musical, I can’t say all the songs were better than the original, however all were enjoyable. I can’t say I’m the biggest fan of Beyoncé (I know unpopular opinion), and she seemed to make the songs a lot more flowery than the classic originals. For example, I definitely prefer the original of ‘Can You Feel The Love Tonight’. Although saying this, it didn’t take anything away from the film as obviously the songs have to be sung again for a remake!

Pumbaa and Timon are excellent as usual! They hold so much comical spirit. With Seth Rogen voicing Pumbaa I wasn’t certain if I would like the outcome, but I was so wrong with this one! He was excellent. I loved the new twist to ‘Hakuna Matata’ with it’s added comical moments. Also, Pumbaa’s brilliant line of “I may run away from Hyenas, but I stand up to bullies” was fabulous. Pumbaa and Timon seem to have more to say in this film and hold a lot more as characters than just the friends Simba found when he ran away. They are brilliant characters in both the 1994 and 2019 versions.

The Lion King 2019 - Simba and Scar

The whole movie seemed to hold a lot of modern elements in its meanings. Which should be loved by the audience in the strength of the female characters not just male on screen. Scar still creeps me out, he has to be one of the darkest villains on Disney screen. There does seem to be more violent in this film, compared the first original, which is probably why it’s actually a PG rather than a U. I really did enjoy this new remake. Loved that they kept the voice actor of Mufasa as James Earl Jones the same as the original too! ‘The Lion King’ (2019) is a visually beautiful film which holds the best elements of the original and adds some new great additions too. I don’t know whether it would beat the original classic version, because that will always hold as one of the best Disney Classics in nostalgia and perfect songs. I do prefer Rowan Atkinson as Zazu too. Nevertheless, both are enjoyable and still an emotional rollercoaster whenever Mufasa is on screen.

Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again (2018)

Ten years later, can you believe that, ten years?? Well anyway, ten years later and the screen graces us with a second Mamma Mia. This whole film is reminiscing of the first ‘Mamma Mia’ with our favourite three dads, our hilarious best friends and the classic ABBA songs. I can’t imagine anything going wrong, and happily I wasn’t disappointed. It was a brilliant, emotional, heart-felt, fun, colourful film.

If you haven’t seen the trailers (which would really surprise me as they are EVERYWHERE), then here’s a quick plot. It is quite a simple one, and not one we wouldn’t expect as it tells the story of Donna’s past. Sophie (Amanda Seyfried) falls pregnant, along the way of grand parties, storms and unexpected rejections; we are transported to the past to see what Donna got up to in travelling and falling pregnant herself with Sophie. I do have to admit, the film does start quite slow and emotional, it’s not like the first which starts high and fluctuates in the middle, this one actually more echoes a beautiful slow emotional build-up, but with fun songs along the way of course!

Film Title: Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again

The past inevitably brings in new actors and actresses and I have to admit they are all brilliant! Lily James as young Donna has to be one of the highlights of the film, she is phenomenal in her portrayal and she stays true to the Donna we know and love from the first film. Then there’s her two closest friends, Tanya and Rosie, played by Alexa Davies and Jessica Keenan Wynn retrospectively. Unlike Lily James, I haven’t heard of these two actresses before, but again they echoed are beloved aunties of Sophie down to a T. With Tanya’s strong front always seeking for a husband and Rosie’s loving honesty, they are both great characters. The past is the story of Donna falling pregnant which means we obviously need to meet the young potential fathers. Firstly, young Harry (High Skinner) a slightly awkward young adult, but during a song he becomes hilarious and lovable. Secondly, young Bill (Josh Dylan), such a pretty man, who we learn is actually quite a player as some might say. And finally, young Sam (Jeremy Irvine), the one to break poor Donna’s heart and flee back to his fiancé on the mainland. Just a quick side note: there were a few things told in the past that didn’t quite add up from the first film, in particular looks, but the actors and actresses are so perfectly matched up it doesn’t really matter anyway!

Mamma Mia 2 - Mamma Mia

Just alike to the first film, ‘Mamma Mia 2’ is scattered with oh so many ABBA songs, it is definitely a musical at heart. Song-full, we enjoy many other ABBA songs that weren’t present in the first film – considering that using all the same songs would become quite boring, although there are some classics brought back from the first, but they just add a nostalgia quality the film. Once again, all the songs make so much sense to what we are watching, they all fit in perfectly into the narrative. Songs such as: ‘When I Kissed the Teacher’ at graduation, ‘Angel Eyes’ with the classic comedy between Tanya (Christine Baranski) and Rosie (Julie Walters), ‘Knowing Me Knowing You’ over a break-up, ‘Waterloo’ with young Harry, ‘The Name of the Game’ in one of young Donna’s songs, and so many more. There were a few I didn’t know, but they were all so enjoyable and worked so well, it didn’t matter much.

Mamma Mia 2 - Dancing Queen

If you’re a fan of the first ‘Mamma Mia’ I would definitely recommend this one, if you haven’t seen it already as I know I’m a bit slow to this one. It’s fun and vibrant, but also heart-felt, I did have a little cry. The transition from past to present works so well, from moving into a room as Sophie to moving into a room as young Donna, or something similar, it works so fluently in the film and doesn’t feel clunky at all! As you may have seen from the trailers too, Cher does make an appearance, personally I wasn’t the biggest fan of her in the film as she felt like she stole a bit of the spotlight, but nevertheless she can sing and ‘Fernando’ is a great song. Like the first, ‘Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again’ is an enjoyable feel-good film, so why wouldn’t this be one to love?

Mamma Mia 2 - Cher

The Greatest Showman (2017)

Hugh Jackman, Michelle Williams, Zac Efron, Zendaya, Rebecca Ferguson and many others bring P.T Barnum’s circus to life from the 1800s. A great cast and an emotional film, and an amazing, inspirational musical. It’s a colourful, stylish, aesthetically bright film with a great story. You become warped into this lifestyle on screen.

If you don’t like musicals, cross this one off your list, because there are a lot of songs, a hell of a lot. Every emotion is sung, but what makes that ok is that the songs are great. Talking about songs, there are some great singers, which is of course needed! The best singer without a shadow of a doubt has to be Keala Settle, who sings the best song of the film ‘This is Me’. A great inspirational song that gets stuck in your head. Keala Settle, I have to mention, has a very similar voice as Amber Riley, or as most people know her as Mercedes in ‘Glee’, up to you whether you can hear it too… I have to admit, some of the songs are much better than others, but all performances are ones to dive into. For example, Zac Efron’s and Zendaya’s trapeze act was stunning and so cleverly put together.

The Greatest Showman - Lettie Lutz

Hugh Jackman plays P.T Barnum, who when loses his job turns to a completely different lifestyle and boldly buys out a museum. Hiring those who are ignored and hated in society, he creates a family in the theatre in a phenomenal vibrant show. Following this new life with P.T aka Phineas Taylor is his real family; wife Charity (Michelle Williams), and two daughters Caroline (Austyn Johnson) and Helen (Cameron Seely). Powered by wanting to give his family a life different from his childhood, he falls in the world of riches and one he’s only dreamed of, one he’s never known before. In a tricky choreographed fun dance with shot glasses, Barnum’s circus gains a young associate, Phillip Carlyle (Zac Efron). In this dance, spot the shot glass that Hugh Jackman drinks with no drink actually in… Additionally, in the show there is the General, Tom Thumb (Sam Humphrey) who is mocked for his height, a trapeze act of Anne (Zendaya) and W.D (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II), a bearded lady with a voice so beautiful Lettie Lutz (Keala Settle), and many more to create a show like none before. Painted as “freaks” by thugs in society, this musical becomes a drama emotional and empowering in strength of originality and uniqueness.

The Greatest Showman - Barnum family

Sadly, there is something I have an issue with in this film. The editing seemed a bit lacking with the technology nowadays and with the amount of effort put into this film, I don’t understand why some parts seemed a bit fake. It’s not anything that ruined the film, because the film is more in the songs, the style and the story moral. Regardless, it wasn’t the best editing on the animals, especially the elephants – but with this point they weren’t actually anything important in the film anyway. Also, some songs did seem a bit dubbed and maybe slightly auto-tuned, which is a bit upsetting.

The film is extremely fast pace. The start revolves around the young lives of Phineas and Charity as childhood sweethearts destined not to be together since from different classes. We follow Phineas’ emotional childhood and soon as an adult. The pace doesn’t slow down there. The success of Barnum’s life races through the film quicker than anything. Soon, we have an outright successful show. But as this continues, in the background aspects start to diminish and multiple storylines become emotionally told for the audience.

The Greatest Showman - Zendaya and Carlyle

This is definitely a musical different to many others. Just as P.T Barnum presents his show as unique, as is this film. It is an emotional film, to say the least I may have nearly cried in sections. The songs and performances are inspirational and clever. I definitely became more connected to the performances and dances than the songs I do have to admit. If you think you would enjoy this film, I would definitely recommend it because as you can see it’s clearly done extremely well in cinema and society. Especially the soundtrack.

The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975)

Wow, what a bizarre, confusing, random, overdramatic film this one was… I’m lost for words at how random this film was, I just didn’t understand the whole film. To say there was much escalation would be an understatement, I’ve never seen a film with so much escalation in my life. It started odd anyway, but then by the end… I was confused how I even ended up with this ending.

The Rocky Horror Picture Show - Frank N Furter

So maybe due to the overdramatic emotions and acting, it’s supposed to be on stage and leave it on stage as a dramatic theatrical show. This would make sense, theatre is one of a kind and of course I’m a fan, but what is seen on theatre can never fully be developed to film, there has to be some adjustments, and I feel like this film was supposed to be on stage and that’s where it should be and stay. It was a theatre production first. There were occasional moments where the characters looked into the camera as well, especially the criminologist speaking to the audience, this makes the audience more personal, but also highlights the divide of the film screen – again suggesting it is probably best as a theatre show. Also, it is regarded as a parody of older sci-fi films, so this explains the overdramatic and almost forced acting, but to be honest, I struggled to find the comedy in this. Regardless, I have to admit Tim Curry does play his character well, he does execute every part of his complex character.

The Rocky Horror Picture Show - all

I would try to explain the plot, but to be honest, I don’t really understand how I can. For starters, there is a newly-engaged couple, Brad (Barry Bostwick) and Janet (Susan Sarandon); when their car breaks down in the pouring rain, they turn to the one place nearby. A big castle. But they didn’t know that those in the castle were going to strip them down and keep them there. Why not? Things just escalate from there, into random. I get the characters and I think I understand what the film was trying to do? No, I’m not sure. You meet all the new characters, fine fine, then suddenly there’s other things revealed, which in case of spoiling and I wish not to, I will just leave there, but these things are just so random and bizarre… Anyway, jumping from this story is a criminologist narrating, as he is in the future from what we are witnessing. I have to admit, this bit I actually did like, I liked that he was there to turn back to narrate other parts not entirely explained, or just add a bit of comedy in the ‘Time Warp’ song. That was done well.

The Rocky Horror Picture Show - Rocky

Ok, so this film is a musical. And I’m sorry to say, this didn’t even stand out. I wasn’t a fan of the singing, I wasn’t fan of many of the songs, some I couldn’t even hear the lyrics. The one song I enjoyed and was happy with a character who could actually sing was killed off – I’m not ruining it as you don’t know who that is. And then finally, there were just too many songs. They were clumped together too much, there wasn’t enough break between some songs.

As you can probably tell, I wasn’t a fan. If you didn’t get that drift, then I definitely was not a fan. It was just all to random and bizarre. Everything escalated into strange. Another thing I should mention that this is definitely not a film for younger ages, a bit too inappropriate. I didn’t understand the comedy and I didn’t like the songs. So for a comedy musical film, I would say no. Maybe that’s just me though, because apparently this is one of the musical classics… At least I can say I’ve seen it once, probably won’t be able to say I’ve seen it for a second time however.

Hairspray (2007)

One of my favourite musicals, an enjoyable song-full film! Great people, great songs, great performances, great dancers – what more is there to ask for? Great storyline? Yes. Original musical standing out from others? Definitely. Bit of comedy? That too! Even some romance! Again, I ask what more do you need. This is definitely one of the best musicals out there. Up with the likes of ‘Mamma Mia!’, ‘Grease’, ‘Chitty Chitty Bang Bang’, ‘Chicago’.

Hairspray - Corny Collins Show

To begin with, the numerous recognisable actors and actresses has to be mentioned! First of all, John Travolta, although in a very different costume from his numerous other characters, but still amazing as ever. To say the least, there’s no Danny Zuko in this film. Then there’s Queen Latifah, Michelle Pfeiffer and Christopher Walken! Not forgetting, James Marsden (‘X-Men’, ‘27 Dresses’), Amanda Bynes (‘She’s the Man’, ‘The Duff’) and Brittany Snow (‘John Tucker Must Die’, ‘Pitch Perfect’). And of course High School Musical’s Zac Efron! Then introducing the perfectly selected Nikki Blonsky as Tracy Turnblad and Elijah Kelley as Seaweed. All actors play their parts brilliantly, all perfectly selected for their roles. Also helps that they all can sing and dance great as well!

As it is a musical, there are of course numerous songs within the film. Like I’ve already said, all of the songs are great. I don’t think there is a song that I don’t like in this musical, they all are enjoyable, especially the ones where they really put a show on with the performances and dancing. It’s definitely not a disappointment in that aspect, in any aspect, but happily this musical stands out as a musical. Oh and I cannot forget to mention the power Nikki Blonsky puts into her songs, the deep attitude definitely is noticed and appreciated amongst the songs.

Hairspray - Tracy and Edna

So I guess I should quickly go over the plot if you’ve never seen the film. Set in 1962 Baltimore, revolving around Corny Collins television show are apparently “the nicest kids in town”, when Tracy makes her dream to get on the show, she struggles as Velma Von Tussle and her daughter Amber ridicule at her weight. Nevertheless, she is persistent in participating in the Miss Teenage Hairspray pageant. As it’s set in America’s 1960s, segregation between black and white people is throughout the film, the film is a celebration of integration and the struggle of bringing it to, but eventually seeing all as equal as it should have always been.

So as you can probably guess, I love this film! It’s a great feel-good film, a film to get you singing and dancing along. To say the least, I know all the songs, I guess that makes it more enjoyable. But if you’ve never seen the film and like musicals, because I appreciate they are of certain taste, then I encourage for you to watch this one! You won’t regret it. There’s comedy, there’s romance, there’s quick-pace moments and there’s moving moments. Everyone is great and played perfectly, it’s a really great film to escape into for an hour or so.

Hairspray - Link and Amber

Anyway, “you can’t stop the beat!”