Thanks the power of open-source newer releases of popular apps are routinely back-ported to older releases, then packaged and distributed through PPAs and custom repositories for easy installation.
VLC is no exception. A number of third-party PPAs provide recent builds to Ubuntu 12.04 users. These are not officially endorsed, supported or otherwise backed by the Videolan team and using them is done so at your own risk.
There’s also the question of whether installing ‘newer’ software – and thus less tested, buggier software – on a system that has been designed to be as dependable as possible is something you really want to do.
Parental advice out of the way, if the odd bug wouldn’t signal the end of your world you can grab VLC 2.1.x from the following PPA, maintained by a user called ‘djcj’.
Open a new Terminal and enter the following commands carefully, and type your user password where required.
sudo add-apt-repository ppa:djcj/vlc-stable
sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get install vlc