Full Disclosure On The Addams Family

They’re creepy and they’re kooky, mysterious and spooky, they’re all together ooky, the Addams Family! And their musical has finally come to the UK!

I’m a life long Addams Family fan, I’ve loved the films since I was a child, was¬†nicknamed¬†Wednesday by certain family members, and have generally been a massive fan of the iconic family for years. So when I heard that there was a musical, I had to check it out.

Sadly, for years, it didn’t come over to the UK, so I had to make do by listening to Carrie Hope Fletcher sing ‘Pulled’ (Wednesday’s big solo) on repeat for three years.

When the UK tour was announced, I raced to get tickets, especially when I found out that Wednesday was being played by Carrie. I’ve been a huge fan of her too for years, so to see the two collide was an absolute dream. A dream, that did not disappoint.

The Addams Family musical is focused on Wednesday, who has fallen in love. But she’s not in love with just anyone, she’s in love with a *shudders*¬†normal boy,¬†from¬†Ohio.¬†In fact, she’s not just in love with him, she’s¬†engaged¬†to him. The only problem is, Morticia doesn’t know, and Wednesday wants her blessing.

So, she organises a dinner, for her fiance Lucas and his family to meet her family, and gain the blessing of her parents. And that’s where things go wrong. Wednesday has driven a wedge between her parents, forcing Gomez to lie to his wife for the first time in their entire marriage, Lucas’ parents’ marriage is failing, Pugsley is scared to lose his sister, and the families, to say the least,¬†clash,¬†with sometimes hilarious, yet strangely poignant, results.

I was worried before I saw the musical that it would be too different from the films, that it wouldn’t be done well, that everybody would be wrong for their roles. That Andrew Lippa wouldn’t capture the true essence of The Addams’. But I needn’t have worried. It’s clear this musical was lovingly made. There’s changes to the characters we know and love, but that’s because they’re grown up now, with new experiences under their belts. They’re still psychopaths, still in love with death and all things dark, and most importantly, they’re a family.

Because really, that’s what The Addams Family has always been about. Family. As they sing in the opening number, it’s family first, it’s family last, it’s family by and by. It’s about learning more about each other, getting through the tough times, fighting for the ones we love, and showing just how a family should be… Even if that family is slightly odd.

Filled with brilliant one liners, darkly wonderful songs filled with lyrics such as ‘I want my love to cut you like my knife,’ and fantastic acting, The Addams Family is unmissable. Especially for those who has always wanted to do the ‘click clicks’ with an audience, wanted to be part of the clan, or just simply wanted another Addams adventure.

I wish I could see it again, and I hope that I will get the chance some day in the future. Even if I don’t, I thoroughly enjoyed the experience. It fulfilled many childhood dreams, I laughed, I clicked, I clapped, and I finally got to hear Pulled live. I’m a very (un)happy Addams fan.

Click. Click.

 

Logan’s Swan Song

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Seventeen years ago, the X-Men burst onto our screens, starting a whole near era in superhero film, one that admittedly has it’s problems thanks to timeline changes, but still a very enjoyable one. Two of the lead roles, were Wolverine, played by Hugh Jackman, and Professer Xavier, played by Patrick Stewart, who have now become iconic in these roles. Logan says goodbye to both, paying tribute to them, as well as giving them one last adventure. An adventure that’s unlike any other X-Men film before it.

Usually, the X-Men films are reasonably funny and lighthearted. But Logan is anything but lighthearted. It would fit more with the Marvel Netflix series’ than the rest of the X-Men canon. The story is dark, and gritty, not holding back on the character’s hardships, or how badly life had hit them.

Professor X is deteriorating mentally, barely able to control his powers, Logan is looking after him, working as a chauffeur to raise enough money to look after them both. There is no-one else that can help, the X-Men are gone, the mansion left unmentioned, mutants are dying out. The world thinks the professor is dead, a terrible accident killing him a year ago. And, possibly most importantly, Logan is also dying. His healing powers are failing him, poisoned by the Adamantium wrapped around his bones. Logan’s body is littered in scars, his wounds don’t heal as fast, he’s drinking to cope.

To say the least, things are bleak. Things get only bleaker when a nurse calls for Logan’s help, to take her and her daughter to Eden, a safe haven for mutant kind. A company is after them, and want to kill the girl, named Laura. Logan and Xavier get dragged into the fray when they discover that Laura is not human – she’s a mutant, one with some¬†very¬†familiar powers indeed.

What follows is still bleak, but brilliant. Despite this being a superhero film, it does not follow the usual tropes. This is more a story about a man learning how to care again, facing the worst adversity he has ever faced, despite the costs to himself. The audience is swept up completely in Logan’s struggle, routing for him more than ever before.

Logan is, in essence, one of the best X-Men films ever made. It’s beautifully shot, beautifully written, and beautifully acted. A bittersweet experience, as you never want this to end, but knowing it has to. Not only will the film end, but these characters are going to be gone forever at the end too.

Yes there were things left unexplained, and there were no appearances from any other famous X-Men, they weren’t even mentioned by name. But if things had been fully explained, if others were mentioned, it would have detracted from what this film is – Logan’s swan song.

While I did not want to see Logan ever go, the same with Professor X, it would do a disservice to this film to demand they bring these character’s back, through a timeline change, or by any other means. This was the perfect ending for the character, the last five minutes nearly bringing me to tears. By far, this was Logan’s best solo film. His ultimate goodbye.

I used to say that David Tennant’s regeneration was the day my childhood ended, but now that has been surpassed. I have spent most of my life watching and loving the X-Men, despite it’s faults and mistakes. Logan though may just now be my favourite, we saw Logan in his true form, in all of his glory. I loved every second.

Thank you, Hugh Jackman and Patrick Stewart, you and your characters will be dearly missed, and never, ever replaced.

Fantastical Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them

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Harry Potter is back! Well, at least his world is back, in this brilliant new prequel, which weirdly, has barely anything to do with Harry Potter himself.

Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them follows the story of Newt Scamander, a young wizard who loves, and studies, animals, travelling to 1920’s New York. It would be a simple trip too, if it wasn’t for the fact that his magical animals kept on escaping and causing havoc in the city, which coincides with a dark force threatening to reveal the wizarding world to the Muggles (or No-Maj, as they’re called in America).

Now, I know I say this a lot, but I wasn’t sure about this film at first. Prequels can often be slightly painful to watch, and come across like studios trying desperately to get more money from a franchise. But this didn’t this came across a lot better than I was expecting to be honest. Fantastic Beasts felt more like a film set in the universe of Harry Potter, while being extremely removed from the story of Harry and Voldemort. Setting the film in the 20’s was a great idea, as it meant that there was no way to mention Harry, Ron, Hermione, Voldemort, or anybody really related to them, because none of them had been born yet. Their troubles hadn’t even begun.

This really helped to create an almost new universe, where this story could be set. It allowed Newt and his friends to be completely separate and new, there was no need to compare anybody to any previous character in this massive franchise. Everything was new, with just little points of conversation which reminded the audience exactly what they were watching.

And what they were watching was, if you’ll excuse the pun, rather magical. Newt’s shy, bumbling, animal-obsessed nature was actually quite sweet in places. From the clips I had seen previously, I was half expecting to hate Newt, but when the clips are given context, and the rest of the film allows his character to unfold, he’s actually quite lovable, and nothing we’ve really seen before in a Harry Potter film. The creatures he was trying to help were nothing short of extraordinary, and nothing like any of the things Harry ever encountered. His interactions with them spoke of true affection, which in some ways reminded me of Steve Irwin.

Newt’s friends were also great additions to the team, none of them even hinting at falling into the same slots as Harry’s gang. Not once did I look at one of the characters and say to myself ‘that’s the Ron/Hermione/Neville etc,’ all of them were entirely new, and still entirely part of the team. Even the No-Maj proved to be more than just comic relief for the other characters.

The story itself is also really all-encompassing. There’s hints of what’s going on in the wizarding world, specifying Grindelward and his terrible attacks, more information on those what happens to the magical children who slip through the cracks, and so much on the differences between the English and the American wizarding way. None of it is ‘info dumped’ either, it’s all revealed in timely places, and will doubt please every Harry Potter fan desperate for more information about the world of wizards.

The only thing that slightly¬†disappointed me in this film was the effects. Not that the CGI wasn’t amazing, because it was truly amazing, but because there seemed to be very little practical effects. With the original Harry Potter movies, creatures like Buckbeak were robots, or puppets, or actors with make up on. In this film, all of it is CGI, which was slightly disappointing. Of course, I understand that with some of these creatures, it just was not possible to make a puppet, or whatever else, that would look realistic. But some scenes I thought would have been greatly improved by some real life effects, to really ground the film in reality.

Other than that though, this film is brilliant, and perfect for every Harry Potter fan out there. With some very fantastic beasts, great characters, subtle grounding in the original world, and some whip-lash inducing plot twists, Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them is a wonderful film. Between this and the Cursed Child play, Harry Potter is proving to be more than just The Boy Who Lived, his entire universe is slowly turning into The World That Stops Surprising. And I for one, am incredibly excited for what’s coming next.

Doctor Strange Mind Trip

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Anybody who knows me will tell you the same thing – I love Marvel, and I love Benedict Cumberbatch. So as you can imagine, Doctor Strange has caused a lot of excitement for me. And by a lot of excitement, I mean it’s been a huge part of my life ever since the casting was announced on this film. My favourite actor, and my favourite franchise combining? What could be more perfect? (Well, a McFly song somewhere in the film would have been wonderful, but hey, two out of three isn’t bad)

Never before in my life have I followed the production of a film so closely as I have done for Doctor Strange, so you can imagine how excited I was to finally see the film yesterday, after two long years of waiting.

And all I can say is¬†wow,¬†just¬†wow.¬†This film is brilliant, in so many ways. It’s an origins story, which could seem outdated and boring by now, but this film does it in a slightly different way.

I’ll start from the beginning. Doctor Stephen Strange is the best neurosurgeon around, he’s at the top of his game, working only on the hardest (but curable) cases he can find. He’s arrogant,¬†rich, and only out for himself. He has to be right, constantly, and does not hold back when he finds someone stupid. But it all changes when he has a violent car crash, which crushes his hands, leaving him with nerve damaged hands which constantly shake, and unable to do surgery.

After hearing that there’s someone out there who can cure him, he goes in search of The Ancient One, and that’s when his entire world is turned on it’s head. He’s introduced to magic and the mystic arts, and after some false starts, starts to train and learn everything he can about them, slowly becoming entrenched in this world of magic, albeit reluctantly.

Sounds like a normal Marvel origin story, right? Wrong. Because unlike Iron Man, Captain America or Thor, Stephen Strange doesn’t¬†want¬†to be a hero. He just wants to be a surgeon again, he doesn’t want to kill others to save the world, or anything like that. He wants to save lives in the operating theater, like he’s been doing his entire life. There’s several arguments throughout the film over this, and in the beginning he only fights when he¬†has¬†to, not because he wants to. It’s only towards the end of the film when he¬†changes his mind, unlike all of our other heroes in this universe.

Another thing that stands out in this film is¬†how¬†Doctor Strange battles. He doesn’t have a special suit, isn’t enhanced in any way, isn’t a Demi-God, or battling alongside aliens. He’s completely human, a human with magic, and mystical objects which help, sometimes hilariously, along the way, but he’s still¬†human.¬†And he gets hurt, a¬†lot,¬†in this film. Not just in training with The Ancient One (Tilda Swinton) and Baron Mordo (Chiwetel Ejiofor), but in actual fights with the enemy.

His powers sometimes fail him, he loses important objects he needs to battle, he doesn’t fully understand the mystical powers that are working around him. For once, we saw a hero actually get¬†beaten,¬†several times over in fact, and in ways that made everyone wince in sympathy in the cinema.

It was a refreshing thing to see, and made the character more realistic in my opinion. I’m sure others are getting slightly tired of the hero winning battles without much issue their first time round, so to actually have someone get seriously beaten really grounded the audience in reality, despite all the magical things going on.

Even the magic seems sort-of grounded in reality. Of course, it’s as trippy as the old Steve Ditko comics, and it takes you on a wild ride through the weirdest of dimensions, but the characters make this all seem rather normal, because it’s normal to them. It’s their way of life, their way of protecting the world, and has been for centuries. The way it’s been done gives the audience just a glimpse at what’s out there, what Doctor Strange will go on to accomplish as the Sorcerer Supreme, while still making it accessible, and not making the whole thing seem too… well,¬†strange.¬†

All in all, Doctor Strange is possibly now my favourite Marvel film (sorry Civil War), it had all of Marvel’s hallmarks – great wit, engaging characters,¬†amazing¬†end credit scene (stay right to the end of the credits, there’s two end credit scenes) – but it was different from the classic origin stories we know and love.

It’s needless to say, but the acting was also superb, the casting on point, and the costuming/effects were done beautifully. Everything came together perfectly, setting up a sequel in the future, expanding the MCU even further, and changing up everything. It’s a must see film for any superhero fan, and hell, even if you’re not a superhero fan, go and see it anyway, because it’s possibly the best film I’ve seen all year.

To say the least, it was worth the two year wait.

Happy World Book Day!

I love books, always have done, ever since I was a small kid. I was lucky enough to be brought up by a Mum who is a true bookworm, and so was always being read to, and reading by myself. It was to a point where I was reading on twenty minute car journey’s (without feeling sick, might I add), and I ran out of room on my shelves, so had to get rid of a load (which hurt, a lot). I read so much that by the time I was ten, I had run out of children’s books to read and so started on Kathy Reiches – and I’m really not joking on that one either. At ten, I was reading Kathy Reiches’ Bones series.
As a high schooler, I read nearly the entire Angus, Thongs, And Perfect Snogging books in two weeks, which inspired several more trips to Waterstones to pick up book-to-film/film-to-book adaptions. I had to slow down a bit for my GCSE’s and A levels (and to start writing too, of course), but I still kept at it really quite diligently.
Even now, I’m a big fan of books, I want to be an author when I graduate, so of course I love books. As I write this, I’m listening to a song called Boys In Books Are Better by Carrie Hope Fletcher, because I relate to it so much. If you haven’t heard that song, here’s the link:

But what is it about books that I love so much? Well, that’s a hard question, because there’s so much.¬†
There’s the escapism element, for a start. I love getting lost in a story line, being completely and utterly swept up in it all. I tend to read teen fiction and things about the supernatural, I love getting so lost in it, I forget that vampires/werewolves/whichever mythical creature is involved isn’t real.¬†
Falling for the characters is another reason, because as Carrie above says, boys in books really are better. Who wants a real guy when you can read about Finnick Odair or Draco Malfoy? (I’m a Slytherin, what can I say?)¬†Nobody! Fictional men may not be perfect, they may have their flaws, but damn it I love them anyway (even when most of them are dead… and not coming back).¬†
Finding strength in characters too, I have always looked up to strong female characters. So while I fall for Kili, Draco and Shane Collins, I’m also looking up to Katniss, Eve Rosser and Valkyrie Cain. I love to read about these brilliant outcasts, who come in and save the world. Sometimes I like to imagine that I’d be as amazing as them in the same situation, even when I know that I’d die within five minutes. It’s fun to pretend for a little while, after all.¬†
Before I spend the next six years telling you all the reasons why I love books, I should probably wrap this up. Basically, I love it all. Books are an incredible thing. They provide hours of entertainment, introduce us to new concepts, inspire us, and so much more. And all of it with just words, just 26 letters, rearranged again and again, to make sentences, which make paragraphs, which makes stories. Honestly, where would we be without stories? Without Harry Potter, without Bilbo Baggins, without Skullduggery Pleasant? Nowhere, we would be bored, we wouldn’t know what adventure and bravery was.¬†
But with books, we can sail the high seas, fight the Capital, stop Valentine. We fall in love, solve mysteries and crimes, travel to far off places – some of which don’t even exist. We can do all of that and more. For someone like me, who’s socially awkward and doesn’t like to leave the house all too often, a book is a godsend.¬†
So what is it that I love about books? Everything, really. I love it all. Books are magical things, and if everybody spent more time reading them, I think we would all be that little bit more magical ourselves.