Evie Totty: “It was ok.”
Please don't hate me lol. I'm not a fan of musicals. I've never read the Victor Hugo book nor have I seen the ... musical.
It was very well done. The acting was superb - Anne Hathaway will likely walk away with BSA. So yeah, the only reason I gave it 'It's ok' was because I'm not a fan of the genre so I didn't enjoy it as much as I 'should have'. If you ARE a fan of the genre story, I encourage you to go see it.
Erik Bates: “It sucked.”
Understand that this is coming from a guy whose absolute favorite musical is Les Mis. As a result, I'm incredibly torn on writing this review. Parts of it were amazing. The acting was great. The sets and cinematography were superb, as well.
Such emphasis was given to the fact that everyone was singing "live" instead of miming studio-recorded audio. This allowed for the actors to be "in the moment" of the scene. This has all the potential of being a wise choice by the director, but in practice, it practically ruined the experience for me. While the acting was allowed to flourish with this approach, the singing suffered greatly. I've seen this musical on stage twice now, and in both instances, the actors were able to convey intense emotion, and bring me to sobbing tears, and at the same time, had to sing their parts well. I felt as though, on more than one occasion (I'm looking at you on this one, Anne Hathaway), the inability to project proper emotion while singing well was excused by allowing the actors to choke sobs through passages they otherwise couldn't sing, or by (and I'm looking at you this time, Amanda Seyfried) simply cutting short notes and making your delivery sound choppy as hell. If you can't deliver a soprano performance without your upper-register sounding like a shrieking harpy, then perhaps you shouldn't be in this role.
Now remember -- this is a musical. My favorite musical. I expect nothing but the absolute best from a production of this magnitude.
Colm Wilkinson (the Bishop), who originated Jean Valjean on Broadway, and Samantha Barks (Eponine), who has played Eponine on stage and in the 25th Anniversary concert performance of the musical, were able to effectively portray their parts while not letting their musical performance suffer. It CAN be done!
There were still the tearful moments. Eddie Redmayne's performance of "Empty Chairs and Empty Tables" was moving and brought a tear to my eye, as did "A Little Fall of Rain" and "On My Own". Young Cosette and Gavroche were great. Interpretation of the script was well done. The opening scene depicting the prisoners hauling a ship into dry-dock was a much better visualization of hard labor than the "prisoners breaking imaginary rocks" imagery that the stage production gives you.
Quite possibly the biggest surprise: Russel Crowe. In my list of "they got WHO to play [insert character]?" moments, he was one that I was most shocked by. He didn't blow me away, but at least he didn't disappoint.
I'm torn between saying "it sucked" and "it was ok." The acting was great. The scenery and adaptation were great. The singing... oh, the singing. If anything ... anything... can ruin a musical, it's poor casting for lead parts, and unfortunately, that's what forces me to give Les Mis this rating.
To be clear, not everyone was terrible. My breakdown:
Hugh Jackman (Jean Valjean): B+
Russel Crowe (Javert): B+
Anne Hathaway (Fantine): C
Amanda Seyfried (Cosette): C
Sacha Baron Cohen and Helena Bonham Carter (The Thenardiers): A
Eddie Redmayne (Marius): A-
Aaron Tveit (Enjrolas): A
Samantha Barks (Eponine): A+ (she played this role on stage)
Colm Wilkinson (The Bishop): A+ (I had a giddy moment when I saw him appear on the screen.)
Erik Bates: I'd like to follow up on my review with this article I found today. Please try to ignore the incredibly annoying use of ALL CAPS. It's a very well-written piece that took me on a journey through cinema, and explained much of my feelings from this film.
Hulk vs Tom Hooper.
........... − January 10, 2013 more by Erik
Evie Totty: So basically Erik what you are saying is that this isn't a good 'first viewing' of this story.
That is actually good to know. I was sitting there going 'why is this so many folks' FAVORITE musical? What's the big deal?' − January 12, 2013 more by Evie
Scott Hardie: Great article about cinematography. "Hulk" is a good teacher, and really clarifies just why Les Misérables is screwed up. Weirdly, the article makes me want to see the movie more, so that I can understand better what he means. I'm sure I can just watch a couple of scenes on YouTube to get the idea...
...Yeah, that's messed up. :-) I would never have been able to put my finger on it by myself. − January 12, 2013 more by Scott